Now on my third listen of ANTI, Rihanna’s newest album, I must admit that
I’m almost a complete fan of the album. My desire is to say that the album
is 100% great, but there are some areas causing me to feel slightly
“Consideration” featuring SZA: the first song of the album drops with a base
that captivates you instantly. Almost at once, I find myself closing my eyes
and swaying left to right following the rhythm. Just when you’re riding the
tempo SZA sings “I’ve got to do things my own way darling” / “when I look
outside my window I can’t get no peace of mind,” which brings you back to
reality. Quite often we hear artists sing/rap of the constraints put on
their freedom to create genuine art that speaks to them–whether it’s because
they can’t get the sample they want, or the record companies want a
different sound, or to push the album release date back, indefinitely. This
track speaks of that desire of self-actualization.
“James Joint”: a love song to marijuana? I think so. The song has the feel
of 1970’s psychedelic grooves. While listening I envision Jimmy Hendrix
gently strumming a guitar, while taking a hit of a joint and making magic.
“Kiss it Better”: six seconds into the song and my first thought is Prince.
The strum of the guitar makes you gently grind and wish you were receiving
neck kisses. This desire always reminds me of Prince. Therefore, it is easy
to understand why I love the sound of the song. The lyrics? Unfortunately, I
don’t love those as much. On the surface level I like them, but we have got
to stop projecting love as this always turbulent dance of make-up to break
up. I’m over it. I know it’s the classic album track that fans are going to
love, but I can’t fully endorse it.
“Work”: before I say anything about this song I must give Drake a
cyber-round of applause. His verse was classic, emotional Drake-and I love
me some emotional Drake! Now with that being said, I do have a question;
Drake, who are these individuals trying to end you you’re always rapping
about? While I’m at it, who are the folks that can never leave Canada too? I
need to see receipts! Aside from Drake, the song is the perfect song to slow
wind to in the club while sipping a drink with a straw. In case you’re
doubtful, Charlamagne tha God demonstrated
“Desperado”: is alright. That’s all I got. It is only okay. I don’t hate it,
but I’m not exactly impressed. If you’re looking for a runaway track, this
might be a song that resonates with you.
“Woo”: is this a dedication to “ruby woo” one of my favorite MAC lip colors?
Maybe not, but you know what they say about women who wear ruby red lipstick. That you’ll never find anyone more amazing, duh! Essentially that is the message of this song-“I’m superb to anything you have, and you want me.”
Except, she spirals a bit down the rabbit hole when she screams “I don’t
even really care about you no more” except you do, because well, there would
be no need to reinforce your superiority if you didn’t still desire the
person, on some level.
“Needed Me”: I want to not love this song. I want to dislike this song for
the very reason of promoting dysfunctional relationships, as stated above;
except I can’t help myself. I love this song for the same reason Chrissy
from LHHNY will forever be my favorite character of any season-because the
Westside of Chicago me identifies with it and won’t allow me not to. When
Rihanna sings “didn’t they tell you that I was a savage? F*ck your white
horse and a carriage,” I literally want to give her a high five. I can’t
help it, because try as you might, sometimes people need a reminder and just
have to get what’s coming to them.
“Yeah, I said it”: the name is bad gal RiRi. I get it. This song is the
embodiment of that sentiment. It could’ve easily been titled “we don’t need
a title to finish the deed” and the same message would have been expressed.
“Same Ol’ Mistakes”: has an old school 90s feel to it. Very mellow,
reflective of questions, choices, and potential regrets.
“Never ending”: the melody of the song, as ironic as it might be, feels like
salvation. It’s very whimsical and leaves you trance like. This is the
turning point of the album. Not quality wise, but message wise. She begins
to show the other end of the spectrum of love and romance.
“Love on the Brain”: is about the type of all-consuming love. I actually like
this song, and Rihanna’s ability to demonstrate her vocal range, but come
on! Why can there never be a healthy balance of love? Why must it go from
“F*ck you, I don’t want you back” to “I need you bad as a heartbeat?” Can’t
we find the balance of “a couple of forevers?” I’m just saying.
“Higher”: I have a love hate relationship with this song. It has too much
Alicia Keys going on (screaming). I understand it was intended to show the
desperation of the need of the other person, but my Beats nearly burst my
left eardrum with that high octave. However, that has no bearing on the
artistic creativity and expression of the song. The song has more of a
symphonic feel and I can imagine it being on the soundtrack of a very
“Close to you”: the last song of the album. It ends on a melancholy note
which includes a piano and Rihanna performing a nice solo, but it leaves one
questioning. What exactly is Rihanna ANTI? Love? Reality? Chris Brown (who I hope this album isn’t about)? Life? Being apart? I’m not sure.
What the album does well is demonstrate the range of human emotions evoked by the possibility of love.
As Drake said on “Work,” “when I see potential I just got to see it
through.” As someone who operates similarly, this is a gift and a curse. It
can bring substantial rewards, but it can also being devastating lows.
What’s the most satisfying aspect of taking the leap of faith? The journey
is always memorable if you choose to embrace and enjoy it. It’ll either
change you or teach you. Perhaps that is what Rihanna is against? Anything
that may prevent her from being willing to take that chance, again and
again-win, lose or draw.
-Ms. Malcolm Hughes
Ms. Malcolm Hughes is the editor-in-chief of For Your Black? Conscious. She is a Chicago, IL native–from the city, not the suburbs–strategizing in Washington, D.C. She loves pizza and challenges you to find her a better pie than she gets back home. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter @fybconscious.