Rihanna - Anti album art

Context. Context. Context. My first mistake was paying attention to comments about the album, before actually listening to it. Still, nothing prepared me for the music I found here. Like everyone else, I subconsciously took into account, Rihanna’s development over the years, pre-ANTI.

Interesting observation: I haven’t seen anyone who’s indifferent to this album after listening to it. In one camp, is Rihanna NAVY. They will defend whatever she puts out with their lives, so they’re really not pertinent to this conversation. I’m more interested in the people who think the album is trash.

Over time, Rihanna’s music has become more and more pop, so naturally, everyone expected a collection of bangers, not unlike “female, better be in possession of my currency”. Instead, this album is a violation of everything we know about her. And as is usual with most people, when an artist makes such a drastic deviation, the natural reaction is for them to start throwing tantrums. Er…Kanye – Yeezus. Kid Cudi – Speeding Bullet 2 Heaven. Skrillex – Recess. Need I say more?

The most impressive part of the compilation for me though, was Rihanna herself. She hit notes, and completed vocal runs that would have given any singer a tough time. I honestly didn’t know she had it in her, and like my friend, Dami, Editor-in-chief of Zikoko.com said, “Her vocal coach is the bomb”.

The song arrangement is also very noteworthy. Most of her other albums feel like a folder of randomly selected, really good songs. This is the first one I can describe as a homogenous body of work, although I have no idea what genre to classify it in.

Even though the album has smidgens of brilliance here and there, some songs she chose to put on it are complete codswallop. If I wasn’t streaming via Apple Music, I’d have deleted some of the chaff, so they don’t spoil the wheat. But, alas.

At the end of the day, because of how subversive it is, and how schizophrenic it gets, I think this body of work can be described by only one word: ANTI.

This is what rebellion sounds like.

Composition/Instrumentation: ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩
Vocals: ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩
Song arrangement: ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩

(I will only comment where I think it’s necessary. If not, the rating will suffice.)

1. Consideration (feat. SZA) ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩

2. James Joint ✭✩✩✩✩✩✩✩
I’m not sure why this song is here, but okay. 16 songs must be complete.

3. Kiss It Better ✭✭✭✭✭✭✩✩

4. Work (feat. Drake) ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩
Context. Context. Context. When this song was released as a single from the album, a few days ago, I fucking hated it.

Now that I’ve listened to it in the context of the album? Well, take a look at that rating.

5. Desperado ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✭
Choppy vocals, over an Indie Rock instrumental. I fell in love with this song the second it came on. ‘Nuff said.

6. Woo ✭✭✩✩✩✩✩✩
Refer to track 2, above. Expected much better from Travi$ Scott.

7. Needed Me ✭✭✭✭✩✩✩✩

8. Yeah, I Said It ✭✭✭✭✩✩✩✩
The liner notes say that Timbaland co-produced this one, but I just. cannot. hear. it. The instrumentation is rather boilerplate, and while the song doesn’t offend me in any way, it also doesn’t do much to please me.

9. Same Ol’ Mistakes ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩✩
For some odd reason, this track reminds me of Gooey, by Glass Animals. I like Gooey, by Glass Animals. My favourite thing about it though, is the airy reverb that most of the vocals are drowned in. The bass line is a close second.

10. Never Ending ✭✭✩✩✩✩✩✩

11. Love On The Brain ✭✭✭✭✭✩✩
Is it just me, or does this song remind you of Beyonce in certain bits? Oh well, it’s brilliant.

12. Higher ✭✭✭✭✭✭✭✩
My God. Bless her vocal cords, after this.

13. Close To You ✭✭✭✭✩✩✩✩

None of the extra songs in the deluxe version is particularly noteworthy. They’re here as a formality.

14. Goodnight Gotham ✭✭✭✭✩✩✩✩

15. Pose ✭✭✩✩✩✩✩✩

16. Sex With Me ✭✭✭✩✩✩✩✩

Favourite songs: “Desperado”, “Higher”, and “Love On The Brain”, in that order.

This album will grow on you.

If you haven’t listened to it yet, you can get it on iTunes or Apple Music, here.

Osarumen Osamuyi Author

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