Now Playing: Rihanna – Rated R

After a very tumultuous and challenging year in her personal life, Rihanna has returned to her music with the release of her fourth album, Rated R. As you must know by now, Miss Sunshine has definitely left the building and the good girl has officially gone bad. Lucky for Rihanna and her fans, the music she is producing during this transformation is actually quite good!

Rated R is a dark album with a sinister but triumphant feel to it. Wait is Ova is a coyly written song full of  warning shots to potential performers laying in wait, vying for Rihanna’s current spot. Hard featuring Young Jeezy, has Rihanna demanding respect while she reminds us how gangstalicious she is. Who told you Barbados was all palm trees and beaches?

The album has its share of bravado, but some songs also find Rihanna very somber and open. In Stupid Love, she realizes her error in trying to hold onto something that was not working:

Trying to make this work
But you act like a jerk

Silly of me

To keep holding on
But the dunce cap is off…”

Clearly she is referencing her recent failed relationship and the results are that her fans are able to see Rihanna as a person. Russian Roulette, despite its controversial subject matter, remains one of the strongest songs on the album. Its brooding and eeire tone was the best way to prepare us for Rated R.

Rihanna – G4L

Rihanna – Rude Boy

Rihanna – Photographs

The contributors on Rated R consist of the usual suspects for a Rihanna album, with the majority of the work done by rising songwriter James Fauntleroy. Fauntleroy helped to pen 6 songs on the album including Wait your Turn and my favourite the gangsta girl anthem, G4L.  Ne-Yo also does some stellar work on the album including the aforementioned Stupid in Love and Russian Roulette. TheDream and Tricky Stewart work their magic on notable tracks Hard and Rockstar 101 which is impossibly catchy. Justin Timberlake’s production team, The Y’s do a good job on the mysterious Cold Case Love. Other notables include Will.I.Am’s reflective pop song, Photographs and Stargate’s surprisingly sexy song Rude Boy. Rihanna aka Robyn Fenty also adds songwriter to her list of accomplishments this time around as she is credited on 9 of the 13 songs on the album.

Although Rated R does not have the potential hit single potential that her former album had with Umbrella, this album is very cohesive, honest and listenable. It is the first Rihanna album I have sat through and really the first time I have enjoyed her music. Congrats to the young Barbadian for turning tragedy into artistic triumph for her most solid release to date.

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