Album Review: Rihanna "Rated R"

Rihanna's fourth album, Rated R, is a concept album. The concept? F*** Chris Brown.

Rihanna has scored five No. 1 hits in as many years. She's a singles artist, not an album artist. With Rated R, she tries to reverse this. The album is coherent, displaying a dark brooding feel throughout. It's one part Blackout and one part 808s and Heartbreak.

Both "Wait Your Turn" and "Hard" are in-your-face cockstruts, a musical middle finger that shows that Rihanna will be stronger and better than before. "Brilliant, resilient, fan mail from 27 million," she sings in "Hard". They are a stark contrast to the "Stupid In Love" in which Rihanna blames herself for loving Brown. "I still love you but I just can't do this," she says.

Lead single "Russian Roulette" was a snoozer way to start the album campaign out, but it fits well in with the album as a whole. A creepy and confessional slow burner suicide song, "Roulette" finds the Barbadian singer at rock bottom. "I'm wondering if I will ever see another sunrise...It's too late to think of the value of my life." "Rude Boy" is much lighter, starting off with synth and a voice that sounds a lot like Chris Brown. The cutting parody finds Rihanna in control, letting her "rude boy" think he's in charge.

The album finishes strong with the haunting "Photographs" featuring Will.I.Am (sounds like the sequel to Cheryl Cole's "3 Words"), the Latin flavored "Te Amo", and the Justin Timberlake penned "Cold Case Love" (you can almost hear Timberlake's "Losing My Way" during the song) before Ri gives "The Last Song". The four songs are wildly divergent from each other musically, but still fit together perfectly.

While Chris Brown decided to mostly ignore his domestic abuse situation and his album tanks, Rihanna confronts it head on and the results are her best album to date.

Must download tracks: "Hard", "Te Amo", and "Cold Case Love"
Rating: 8/10


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