Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rihanna 'Rated R' Album Review

Back in August of 2005, an unknown Barbadian singer Robyn Fenty released her debut Reggae fusion influenced album Music Of The Sun in the US. Known to the world by her middle name, Rihanna the pop star was born. Less than a year later after nearly missing the Billboard Hot 100 number 1 spot with her debut single “Pon De Replay,” she clenched it with “SOS” the lead single of her sophomore album A Girl Like Me which continued to prove she was not just a one hit wonder, by scoring two more top 10 singles. The following year Rihanna earned a second number 1 single with her worldwide smash hit single “Umbrella.”

Following her breakthrough Good Girl Gone Bad era Rihanna was on top of the world with a total of five number 1 singles. Not even a very public domestic violence case could knock Rihanna down. Now, the wait is over and Rihanna is scheduled to release her fourth studio album Rated R through Def Jam on Monday, November 23rd, 2009.

Surprising fans greatly, Rihanna released a dark ballad as her lead single. “Russian Roulette,” co written by label mate Ne-Yo and herself became her twelfth Top 10 hit. The haunting track will take some fans back to 2006’s “Unfaithful,” which was written by Ne-Yo as well.

You hear Rihanna’s Caribbean accent return as she sings the verses on “Wait Your Turn.” Sadly the captivating promotional single, is about as close as Rated R comes to recreating Rihanna’s past successful Dance Pop sound.

Released to radio early, is the self-assured “Hard,” Rated R’s second official single. Rihanna doesn’t hold back at all on the track claiming, “the Rihanna reign just won’t let up.” Knowing others are “aiming at [her] pedestal” Rihanna enlists Young Jeezy to help build the street grittiness of “Hard,” making it a must hear.

Up and coming artist Ester Dean lends a creative hand by writing “Rude Boy.” The song has got to be Rihanna’s most sexual song to date. Unlike the subtle “Shut Up & Drive,” which featured car expressions as sexual metaphors “Rude Boy” goes straight in! On top of the infectious beat produced by Stargate, Rihanna sings “I like the way you touch me there/I like the way you pull my hair/Babe if I don’t feel it/I ain’t fakin’no no.”

Rihanna steps out of her comfort zone and spits a decent flow twice on “G4L” but only for a few lines. Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash tries to help Rihanna become a legit rock star on “Rockstar 101,” but it just isn’t too believable. Once again Justin Timberlake lends Rihanna a hand on Rated R’s best ballad “Cold Case Love,” which features Rihanna crooning about an unhealthy relationship that went too far and resulted in death.

In the end Rated R doesn’t exactly continue or capture the edgy influenced sound of “Disturbia” or the Alternative/Rock sound of “Breakin’ Dishes” & “Shut Up & Drive.” Nor does the album feature the Dance Pop feel of “SOS” or “Don’t Stop The Music,” which is a real disappointment since much of Rihanna’s two times platinum 2007 Good Girl Gone Bad album was. Although Rated R does follows in the Rihanna formula by once again changing up her musical style by compiling mid-tempo Hip Hop-Rock tunes and Pop ballads.

With Def Jam promoting Rihanna in great deal, Rated R will most likely become another success for Rihanna. But it is not likely Rated R will produce as many hits or receive the attention Good Girl Gone Bad achieved.

Definite Listeners:
"Rude Boy"
"Hard" [featuring Young Jeezy] [credited as Jeezy]
"Cold Case Love"
"Wait Your Turn"

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