Rihanna: Anti

Posted February 19, 2016 by in Pop



2.5/ 5


Genre: ,
Producer: , , , , , , ,
Label: ,
Genre: Pop, R&B
Producer: Kuk Harrell, Jeff Bhasker, DJ Mustard, Twice as Nice, Timbaland, Brian Kennedy, No ID, Hit-Boy, Travis Scott, Frank Dukes, Noah "40" Shebib
Label: Roc Nation, Westbury Road
Format: Digital download, compact disc
Time: 43:36
Release Date: 28 January 2016
Spin This: "Kiss It Better," "Love on the Brain"


Tracks like "Love on the Brain" and "Close to You" feel like smart, substantive forays into more mature content


Slow minimalist tracks, lack of pop stamina burden Anti's agenda. Omission of "FourFiveSeconds" hurts

Even with its few good moments, Anti sounds like Rihanna’s worst conceived solo album effort in a while

by J Matthew Cobb
Full Article

Even with its few good moments, Anti sounds like Rihanna’s worst conceived solo album effort in a while

Believe it or not, Rihanna has been relatively quiet lately. Only two singles of relevance dropped in 2015, the hilarious, but irritating “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “FourFiveSconds.” And although the latter was met with critical acclaim and featured collaborative work with Kanye West and Sir Paul McCartney, it did almost nothing for the modern-day pop princess’s fan base. You can probably expect the same tepid response from Anti, her eight studio album. Rihanna’s latest record walks a mundane path of pouty mouth rampage underscored by minimalist production, dubstep nuances and a safe, yet borderline-boring midtempo procession. As if she’s making art from the past abuse of Chris Brown, Rihanna continues on the trek that “S&M” and “Love the Way You Lie” paved by taking on darker sides of romance. “Must be love on the brain that’s got me feeling this way/It beats me black and blue but it fucks me so good,” she confesses deep into the album. Not only are the lyrics bend to the darkness, the music feels that way also, much like what was exposed on Rated R. Darker can be artful and good, but in Ri’s case, the producers struggle to give Anti the wings it needs to soar.

Whirly Stevie Wonder experimentation highlights the “James Joint” prelude as if she’s readying for a Songs In the Key of Life ascension. Instead she falls into the crevices of forgettable music. “Work” has Rihanna hammering dancehall repetitive phrasing on club-lite atmospherics. Guest rapper Drake tries to hold up its second half, but there’s hardly any music to keep energy levels up. “Desperado” plays like a distant cousin of MJ’s “Dirty Diana,” but some of Ri’s phrasing drips (“Desperado/Sitting in an ole Monte Carlo”) with a painstaking druggy attitude. The off-kilter bizarre framework continues with tracks “Woo” and “Needed Me,” songs that sound like despairing departures from the pop candy she’s used to chewing. When she goes for soulful hard belting on the throwback-embossed “Higher”, she falls miserably, sounding hoarse in some corners and embarrassed in others.

There are some redeeming qualities aboard, such as the piano-seasoned “Close to You,” a song that walks the lines of “Stay” while showcasing the warmth of her lower alto register. There’s also the Amy Winehouse-envisioned “Love on the Brain,” a track that doesn’t exactly smell like Top 40 but feels like a creative highlight and an appropriate fit for an artist that struggles with genre limitations. She also finds good luck on “Kiss It Better,” a song that plays lo-fi synths like subdued rock guitars. If pop radio is looking for the proper rhythmic pulse from Rihanna, this is probably the best destination. But don’t look for gargantuan responses from them; there’s nothing here that tops “Take a Bow” or comes close to the favorability of “We Found Love.”

About the Author

J Matthew Cobb

Managing editor of HiFi Magazine


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