Rih-Formation in the Making
Just 24 days ago, and about a week before Beyoncé broke the internet yet again, Rihanna's first album since 2012 hit consumer shelves. And, as if right on cue, everything about the Caribbean Queen's new project screams of newly evolved self-identity and affirmation.
Rewind to the beginning of 2015 - to the start of an auspiciously quiet yet momentous year – and you’ll see the stage being set for Rihanna to propel herself back from what appeared to be a personal and spiritually driven leave of absence.
Only weeks after returning from a six-month social media hiatus, Rihanna set the tone for her exodus from the dance and club music we all knew her for under Def Jam with the release of “FourFiveSeconds”. Her first single release since her last album Unapologetic was written and produced by Kanye West and that “oh-so-lucky” Paul McCartney guy; both of whom so graciously accompanied her on the track, adding to the soul and heart of her artistry.
The subsequent singles, “Bitch Better Have My Money” and “American Oxygen", brought her Navy back to the proverbial yard. With her Caribbean roots and accent on full display, she pays homage to other American greats while acknowledging the ultimate pursuit of and resilience needed to achieve and live the American Dream. [MESSAGE!]
January 2015 sounded her first shot out of the liberated gates and unabashedly got the pendulum swinging for the resurgence of Rihanna.
When the artwork, designed by Israeli artist Roy Nachum, along with the jarring title ANTI were debuted in October, copious amounts of possibility were left to the imagination of everyone awaiting the album’s release. “Anti”, as a prefix and more so as a standalone word, is quite a pointed declaration.
The cover art itself features the poem, If They Let Us, written by Chloë Mitchell. This simple yet complex ode to being the bearer of a voice that is loud and boisterous and misunderstood rings the bells of nonconformity and the intricacies of societal acceptance. The air of shameless expression was cast and the ship set sail.
Rihanna’s eighth studio album, ANTI, is exactly that and - by her definition - the antithesis of what was publicly expected of her. It is real and raw in subject matter and cadence alike. She dotingly presents her spirit and vocal capabilities through and through – never in the same exact sound or lyric but always reminding you of what you just received. From newly pop bounce, to dancehall vibes, to blues room ballads ANTI is multi-cultural, spanning continents and vocabularies. The producers’ stylistic ranges function as the foundation for Rihanna to seamlessly weave the appropriate elements and rhythms. She paints the perfectly blurred pictures that are direct yet up for interpretation. And true to (noncon)form, each song is its own individual.
ANTI is the ultimate affirmation of self; Rihanna outright declares that she’s “got the sauce" and proceeds to showcase why. She manages to mingle deliciously tantalizing romances with deliberately uttered expletives that at the end of the day anyone who has experienced a dose of good [self] loving in their life understands how those best moments resonate. But don’t be remiss, even her sing-song interludes “James Joint,” “Yeah, I Said It” and the exhilarating chant of “Goodnight Gotham” invite us to indulge, if we wish, in a few of her everyday pride and joys.
There’s a journey of discovery and expression taking place, bit by bit. Isn’t that what true artistry is about? Giving voice to pieces of yourself at a time while helping others find a voice within themselves as well. It seems as though Rihanna has been cascading on this course for quite some time now and has been coming into her own as a Bajan-woman in America. Not only is her first album in over three years provocatively titled and self-defining, it is her first album released under her own record label Westbury Road.
Robyn Fenty has come full circle, taking off again from where she originally started - Westbury Road of Bridgetown, Barbados. She is anti- everything that is not 100% herself.
She has come to #SLAY and this is her Rih-Formation.
Through writing, New York native, Bri.L, has produced a creative voice that speaks for the sake of her mind and heart. Her poetry is a raw reflection of the world’s culture - telling stories that embody life, consciousness, acceptance and more – from unpredictable perspectives. At an early age, putting pen to paper became a way for her to heal, to evoke, to love and she’s been left to write ever since. For more on how she tells it, visit www.beenlefttowrite.com | IG: @Bri_Bossy