Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’: Album Review

November 23, 2012 § 10 Comments

It may come as a surprise, but Rihanna has been in the music game for seven years. This year, she recorded her growth in her seventh album Unapologetic. Despite all the controversy surrounding her and her personal life, on November 19 Rihanna showed the world how Unapologetic she really is.

The CD opens with “Phresh Out The Runway”, a heavily auto-tuned track with a buzzing beat. The lyrics are slightly inaudible, but ones that stand out are: “How could you be so hood, but you so fucking pop? How could you be so fun, and sound like you selling rocks?”  The #RihannaNavy will eat it up.

Following is “Diamonds”, the hauntingly beautiful track that displays a more mature Rihanna, with its departure from her uptempo pop tracks. Since its release in September, the song has become incredibly infectious.

“Numb” finds Rihanna partnering up again with rapper Eminem. The Bhangra-inspired track is repetitive and has no substance. It is quite possibly one of Eminem’s weakest verses of his career – he tries to bring back Slim Shady but fails. Be sure to keep the blunt lit when listening.

Ratchet RiRi emerged a few months back, when the singer began to promote marijuana and strippers more than ever. “Pour It Up” is the continuation of Ratchet RiRi, where she boasts about her endless cash while channeling Chris Brown’s rap flow. It is her version of Juicy J’s “Bands A Make Her Dance” (it is created by the same producer Mike Will Made-It).

Rihanna gets caught up in a love game with “Loveeeeeee Song” – where her velvety voice suggestively caresses the rhythm. It is a seductive track best played while you inch closer to your partner in the club with drink in hand. Guest feature Future’s bathwater gurgles were unnecessary on this track; they completely take away from Rihanna’s alluring and confident vocals.

With the swagged out “Jump”, the Ginuwine interpolation is genius and the slight Aaliyah influence in Rihanna’s cool tone is evident. Electronic DJs will definitely be using it in their club mixes. “Right Now”, produced by David Guetta, is a made-for-radio pop song. It tries to be a “Where Have You Been” – it is current but unoriginal.

Rihanna isn’t known for her ballads, but the second half of Unapologetic is ballad-specific and is hands down the better half of the record. It begins with with Mikky Ekko-assisted duet “Stay” – no doubt the strongest song off the album. It beautifully showcases Rihanna’s unique tone. It is stripped and very unexpected:

“Funny you’re the broken one but I’m the only one who needed saving. Cause when you never see the light it’s hard to know which one of us is caving.”

“Stay” has a vibe we never heard from the pop singer – heartbreaking yet completely endearing. “Nobody’s Business” featuring Chris Brown is a fun track that has a late ’80s Michael Jackson flair. It is very cheeky and will have people talking.

“Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary”  is another ’80s sounding, The Police-tinged record. Like many of the ballads, it centers on her relationship with Brown. The first part (“Love Without Tragedy”) isn’t long enough. But “Mother Mary” is an epic ballad with raw and confessional self-reflection.

Rihanna always strives with Island-flavored tracks (“Rude Boy”, “Man Down”) and “No Love Allowed” is no different. Would love to see her do an all reggae mixtape in the future. “Half of Me”, the deluxe track, is a response to her critics and is arguably the most honest song of her career:

“You saw me on a television. Hanging on my dirty linen. You’re entitled to your own opinion. Said you shake your head in my decision. I guess the kinda songs that I been singing, make it seem as if I’m always winning.”

Unapologetic is a moodier album that picked up where the dark Rated R left off. It is much more cohesive than Talk That Talk. The album has the potential to be Rihanna’s version of Christina Aguilera’s critically acclaimed Stripped – only if she spent more time mastering the record rather than pushing it out in a few months. The singer is known for her singles, but it would be refreshing for her to take a break so she can finally sing about a new chapter in her musical story.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Songs on Repeat

“Diamonds”

“Pour It Up”

“Stay”

“Lost In Paradise”

Songs to Skip

“Numb”

“Right Now”

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