I wanna go back to the old way
But I’m drunk instead, with a full ash tray
With a little bit too much to say
- Rihanna, ‘Higher’
Rihanna’s 8th studio album ‘Anti’, released in January 2016 is one whose release I had been anticipating for too long. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t surprised by how different it was from her previous albums, especially how undecipherable the music was. Rihanna dabbled in more than one genre making her album musically different and expressing various emotions.
“Consideration” featuring SZA, is about Rihanna aiming to gain respect as an artist with individuality, with credit for her own work, considering most of her past albums weren’t entirely under her control. To some it seems she was talking about the ending of a relationship and the ups and downs of it, despite how upbeat it felt.
“James Joint” was simply euphonious. I am disappointed how short it was, but really liked how she insinuated both the high of love and weed. The tune basically speaks about a relationship that is invested in a lot, but it could be open to interpretation .
The first definite hint to relationship ups and downs was in “Kiss It Better”. For me, it was an admission to wanting someone back desperately, despite the toxicity. She also sings about the pain of being together, and desiring his ‘healing kisses’ versus the constant arguments. I particularly favored this line for its anger in the middle of a dispute, and the entire chorus for the pain in a relationship
Fxxk your pride. Just take it on back boy
“Work” featuring Drake, had every single person (including myself, honestly) on the dancefloor with its dancehall vibe and Jamaican dialect. Funnily enough, it was deeper than just twerking in the club. The song is about seeking a deeper connection to someone, trying to find out if that someone can work for his/her love and if they’re deserving of it. However, there are various interpretations in that it’s more of a sexual rather than deeper connection found or desired in a relationship.
The edge in “Desperado” had this feeling of a badass person but it really is just about the dilemma of staying behind or running away with a lover. Like Bonnie and Clyde if you will. The atmosphere of ANTi moves from upbeat to a deeper focus on relationships and gains a slower tempo as the album goes on. “Woo” is that song where you compare how much better you are to an ex’s new lover, and features Travis Scott.
“Needed Me” is the anthem for female empowerment in relationships and life. She reminds her ‘hook-ups’ that he needed her, but she’s not on the same page as him. She’s busy doing her own, basically, and warns the lover to not try to tame her. ‘’Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage? Fuck ya white horse and ya carriage’’
Rihanna continues with a slow song on “Yeah I Said It” which focuses on sexual relationships again. Written by the talented Bibi Bourelly, she explains the line ‘Yeah I said it, man, fuck a title’ is about not labeling a relationship but also about the daring moments when someone will not take back a bold statement.
“Same Old Mistakes” is a cover which consists of a dark wavey vibe, declaring the love for a person’s change, most likely herself since Rihanna aims to change herself with the entire album, and to love it. “Never Ending” also has a wavey touch to it, but focuses on the confused feeling of a new relationship
Everything is never ending, I slipped into a parallel. Why does it have to feel so strange to be in love again?
“Love on the Brain” had this enjoyable doo-wop sound to it, and a light rock touch to it which I particularly enjoyed for Rihanna’s play on her vocal range and her emotions felt when she belts to the beat.
I honestly favour “Higher” more, after “Work” because I sing it a lot lately. Also written by Bourelly, it’s a comparison to drunken voicemails sent after the end of a relationships, begging on the inside for someone to answer, to assure it’s not all over, and this rawness in this song is felt as Rihanna croons in scratchy vocals. Random fact, Rihanna shared snippets while drunk on whiskey.
The album is closed by “Close To You”, a slow piano ballad crooning of the struggle to move on from the end of a relationship. ‘’Watching you pretend you’re unaffected’’ hits the heart for a lot of people who’ve been heartbroken. In the deluxe album, 3 extra songs are included, one without vocals, and two which perfectly describe Rihanna. “Pose” pops out like the ratchet, ‘hair snatching’, strip club song where Rihanna sings in ‘boss slang’ to show off her riches, let people know she’s in charge, the boss, and expressing not caring for haters who low-key like her music. She also sings about girls having to pose and prove to her they’re worth the attention.
The braggadocios “Sex with Me” portrays Rihanna’s confidence in her sexual abilities, being able to tempt those attracted to her even through her Instagram. I wasn’t aware of this tune and its sexy vibe until I found the deluxe album. I think this album captures what Rihanna aimed for- “I just wanted to focus on things that felt real, that felt soulful, that felt forever…” which she achieved, but also showed us more of herself as an artist.