Featured — 27 November 2012
Album Review: Rihanna – Unapologetic

By Odeisel

Rihanna’s work ethic, fiery disposition and controversy have made her a superstar in the age or social media. She has mastered reinvention, from her various incarnations through her discography. Her latest, Unapologetic finds Rihanna merging those various styles of Pop, Hip-Hop, R&B, EDM and Reggae into a sound uniquely her own.

Let’s get the trash out right away. Maybe Rihanna owed Eminem one for the huge hit “Love The Way you Lie.” Consider that paid back in spades with Eminem’s sorry performance on “Numb.” The Mediterranean melody, with snare and boom-kick undertones, was actually fine until Eminem (“I’m the butt police and I’m looking at your rearrearrear [like a siren]) ruined it with a corny, faux Kendrick attempt. “Loveeeee Song” featuring Future is likewise ruined  by the guest. The drunk autotuning of Future is like dropping a bowling on a glass bottomed boat. Sooner or later, your ship will tank. Even then, the structure of the whole son’g isn’t that bad.

“Phresh Off the Runway” finds Rihanna flowing to a, synth-driven track featuring a teeth-rattling bottom. Rihanna’s delivery is full of swagger, delivering her bars with a hand on crotch, scowl on face feel. “Diamonds” runs next, with unabashed pop merriment written all over it and its run as a hit already cemented.

Never is Rihanna more secure in her position than on  “Power It Up,” with its trap, strip club and drill music elements. She shits on anyone daring to oppose her with a force-field composed of the arrogance of youth, drunken invincibility and stripper sweat. Rihanna is entirely aware of haters and unbowed at their taunts.

“Jump” is a fun romp through ghetto love, complete with denial,delusion and dalliance.  Rihanna runs the emotional gamut on this song from”Do you know who I am, to allowing for her partners’ indiscretions. The track explodes with synth stabs, electronic punch and quickly hastening drums. The way she co-opts Ginuwine’s “Pony” for her own use is flat-out illness. David Guetta jumps on the perfectly-placed “Right Now.” Club rage is in full effect with sirens and a pounding bass tied to stadium highs and escalation.

“What Now” takes the album left, with emotional vulnerability and intelligence, showcasing range from guttural screams, soft highs and the rear-throated wail that she’s famous for.  Mikky Ekko guests on the piano driven “Stay,”assisting on the duet power ballad that keeps Rihanna within her talent but expands her vocal limits. Boyfriend Breezy shows up on “Nobody’s Business” with awesome results. Breezy channel’s “Leave Me Alone” Mike as the duo deliver’s Whitney and Bobby’s “Something in Common” 2.0. If you’re mad that they’re back together, tough break. This is a certified hit.

Rihanna successfully pulls inspiration from the 80s with “Love Without Tragedy” over a melody resembling something Madonna or Cyndi Lauper could have done 30 years ago. “Get It Over With” reins the pop star in fully and undresses her emotionally beneath heavy strings and minimalist atmospherics. Her island roots are even revisited over the steel drum riddim of “No Love Allowed.” Unapologetic closes with bouncy, digital “Lost In Paradise” a stadium-sized close that takes us home appropriately.

Unapologetic is Rihanna at her very best. She vacillates between omnipotence and impotence; reveling in the irresponsibility of youth but staring down the consequences of recklessness. She rocks between humility and hubris in a way that few have the opportunity in modern pop to do. Beyoncé wouldn’t dare come off a throne to show her flaws. Those who have that courage don’t have the ;ofty position to make that exposure a true risk. This is growth and musical maturation for the “canvas.” A bit more of this and haters will be left with precious little ammo. The-Dream, David Guetta and Stargate, with some additional help have created the perfect sonic landscape and Rihanna doesn’t choke.

 

black-thumbs-up black-thumbs-up black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-up Out of 5

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