Review of: “Unapologetic”. Def Jam Records

Since first setting the airwaves ablaze with her debut single “Pon De Replay” in 2005, Rihanna has shown time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned with whether it is in music, fashion or down right attitude. The release of her seventh studio album has once again catapulted Rihanna to the top of music chart around the globe.

True to the album’s title Unapologetic, it would seem Rihanna, fondly referred to as RiRi by her fans, has made an attempt to be just that with song titles such as “Nobody’s Business”, which features now ex-boyfriend Chris Brown. Based on the various song titles one can already tell that each song is a testament to many of the private and at many times public turbulences of her life in the limelight. The album opens with the sassy and high energy “Fresh of the Runway” which was recorded two days before her first live performance of it at the Victoria Secrets Show. The first single off of the album “Diamonds” is one of the highlights of the album only second to the more recent single “Stay” which features the talented Mikky Ekko who wrote the song as well. Unlike the mid tempo ballad that is “Diamonds”, “Stay” is ever more introspective, sombre and instrumentally simplistic thus allowing space for the lyrics to simmer.

Many of the songs take on a darker tone to any of her prior releases. One could assume that this is meant to take us to the core of a side of Rihanna that we’ve not readily seen and heard before. The use of Dubstep serves well to give us a sense of this. Besides the use of Dubstep the music features elements of EDM, Rock and Reggae further showing Rihanna’s ability to move between contrasting styles and genres. On the down-side the album falls short in many regards. The lyrics leave much to be desired and are often quite generic and thus impersonal in a project that claims to take us on a personal journey with RiRi. Though a song like “Pour (Power) it Up” is certain to a club banger it could have been better executed lyrically particularly when one considers the many stripper/twerk tracks out right now (Miley Cyrus might like use this one for her pro-twerk routines). Production wise the music doesn’t fare any better which is quite disappointing when one considers the world class producers who worked on the album namely The Dream, Chase & Status, David Guetta and Labrinth just to name a few. The music comes across a bit hollow and when one considers that the album was put together in about five months, one wonders if time allowed more could have been added to beef some of the songs up. Nonetheless even with its downfalls, album sales do not lie, and this has proved to be one of Rihanna’s most successful albums. Could the end of 2013 spell for yet another Rihanna album release? We wait with baited breath.

Article Written by: Felicity Mdhluli

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