Surprise albums have become a norm in music. Everyone from Death Grips to Beyonce have had their hand in surprising their fans with new music. Rihanna followed suit last week by releasing her eighth studio album “Anti” for free on Jay-Z’s streaming service Tidal.
“Anti” is a left turn for Rihanna, whose last couple records have focused on club oriented EDM tracks. Rihanna brought in a new set of producers, most of them known for hip-hop production like Bo1-da, DJ Mustard, and Hit-Boy and created a spacey R&B album filled with influences that mirror alternative R&B artist Banks and FKA Twigs.
The lead single, “Work,” is a slow vibe track that features distant dancehall influences. Rihanna adds Jamaican patois throughout, with terms like “work” for sex, “haffi” for have to, and “ah go” for going to which are sprinkled through the track. The problem with “Work” is its repetitive hook, which contains no substance and quickly becomes monotonous. The track also features a brief appearance from Drake, who shows up only to lay down a mediocre auto tuned verse. For such a mumbling track, “Work” is an interesting choice for a lead single. Especially when better songs, like the banger “Bitch, Better Have My Money,” were left off the album.
Perhaps the oddest part of ‘Anti” is the cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes” from the band’s 2015 album “Currents.” Usually, whenever an artist covers a song, they change something to differentiate both, like Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watch Tower.” Rihanna uses the exact same song and just switches in her vocals, which is fine, but if you want to listen to Tame Impala, you could just listen to Tame Impala.
For an album that has been anticipated for such a long time, “Anti” shows brief signs of promise, but ultimately continues to be a means to please the masses. The album already went platinum on its release due to a deal with Samsung that purchased 1,000,000 copies of the album. Even with this, “Anti” still remains nothing to celebrate.
Release date: Jan. 28, 2016