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Rihanna strikes again with new album “Anti”

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After years of teasing fans and withholding all information on her next studio album, Rihanna’s “ANTI” was finally released last Wednesday exclusively on Tidal, the music streaming service she has co-ownership in.

With a struggling marketing campaign backing the album, it originally leaked through Tidal last Wednesday evening. It was quickly removed after 20 minutes, but fans still had a chance to download it and tracks were then leaked online. The album was officially released later that night. Tidal also offered a limited number of fans a free download of the album, regardless of whether they were a Tidal subscriber.

After taking a hiatus from music for the past three years, Rihanna released three singles last year from the album. In the end, none of them made it to the final track list. Numerous speculative release dates had been made leading up to the release of the album.

Rihanna also promoted the album through Samsung, releasing cryptic videos entitled “ANTIdiary” leading up to it’s release. Samsung will also promote her upcoming Anti World Tour, which kicks off at the end of this month.

Sound-wise, “ANTI” is very different compared to her previous works. Rihanna is known for her bangers and chart-toppers, but “ANTI” is relatively clear of those kinds of songs. The most club-worthy song is “Work,” featuring frequent collaborator Drake. The song was released last Wednesday as the first official single from the album.

The rest of the album is very anti-Rihanna, in a good way. She moves away from her dance-vibe to become a more chill and relaxed singer. The album isn’t a party-album, but instead has more of a relaxed tone, with a hint of a stoner vibe.

Rihanna begins the album confidently with “Consideration,” where she says “I got to do things my own way darling,” delivered in her Barbadian accent. In a way this line shows her approach to the entire album: it’s music she created for herself instead of her fans.

The album moves onto “James Joint,” the bad girls ode to her love of marijuana. Next on the track list is “Kiss It Better,” a groovy power ballad infused with ‘80s vibes. The single “Work” is next, which has a reggae-pop vibe to it.

The album then transitions into a slower-style, filled with many ballads beautifully sung by the songstress. This is perhaps Rihanna’s best vocal work on an album so far. She pushes the limit to her voice on many songs, in particular “Higher,” where Rihanna croons for a lover late at night. Her voice breaks as she belts out the chorus, which brings a certain realism to the pop star.

On “Same Ol’ Mistakes,” she teams up with Kevin Parker of Tame Impala to cover the bands psychedelic rock song of the same name. The song contains the same production as the original song and the same lyrics, except all sang by Rihanna in a woozy, aloof way.

“Love on the Brain” is another pop balled inspired by ‘50s music. Her vocals again shine on this track, which has a very Amy-Winehouse-vibe to it. She closes her album with another vocal standout, where she sings “Close To You,” a jazzy slow piano ballad.

Overall, the album has many strong songs that push Rihanna’s vocals to her brink. The album is not your typical Rihanna album, but pushes Rihanna away from being the hit-maker to more of a serious artist.

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