Rihanna’s “ANTI” is finally here

The artist is ready to freshen things up

Michael Jn-Marie, Contributing Writing

Rihanna certainly knows how to freshen things up. It’s been three painfully long years since the world was last blessed with a Rihanna album; but, on Tuesday night, the wait was finally over.

In what has been one of the lengthiest and strangest marketing campaigns for an album in recent memory, “ANTI” was finally released to the world via Tidal, a music streaming service. Some wondered whether ANTI would ever see the light of day, as it’s been teased for over a year now.

Tracks, such as “American Oxygen” and “BBHMM,” neither of which made the final cut, only further created anticipation for the album’s release.

However, these singles, which didn’t perform quite as strongly as hoped, never had any follow-ups, making fans believe “ANTI” was nothing but a pipe dream.

In a pretty surprising move, Rihanna gave fans what they’ve been waiting ages for. Within 24 hours of its release, “ANTI” was streamed 13 million times and earned platinum status by garnering over 1 million downloads, courtesy of a free code tweeted by the singer herself.

After listening to the first track, “Consideration,” featuring SZA, you know you’re in for something totally different from her previous music.

If you’re one of the fans that waited all these years for Rih to return with more classic dance tracks, such as “We Found Love” or “Please Don’t Stop the Music,” sorry to say, but you’re out of luck. To the delight of some fans, and to the dismay of many, “ANTI” is Rihanna’s least commercial album to date and, surprisingly, succeeds because of it.

Ditching Dance-EDM club bangers would seem to be an odd choice for someone who has made a career off of them, but the retro R&B vibe “ANTI” brings a breath of fresh air for someone who’s released seven prior albums.

Her growth as an artist is in full display in this album, including tracks such as the amazing “Kiss it Better,” an 80s inspired rock themed slow jam, showing that new is indeed better.

The Travis Scott assisted “Woo,” featuring distorted vocals and a crooning “woo” as the chorus, at first seemed hard to listen to, but gets to you as one of the album’s top club tracks.

The album’s lead single, “Work,” featuring Drake, which was released early in the morning on Tuesday, Jan. 26 hours before the album, is the only guaranteed future hit-worthy track from the album, though a far cry from their previous collabs. Its reggae vibe and insanely annoying, repetitive yet catchy chorus has summer jam written all over it. It is the only track you’ll be finding yourself dancing to on “ANTI.”

The real highlight of the album, however, is Rihanna’s voice. Her vocals are as good as they’ve ever been. The second half the album is fully loaded with ballads, and the track “Higher” is an amazing vocal effort from Rih giving her best Sia impression.

The new change in sound was not what fans expected, but with a superstar of Rihanna’s caliber, trying something new is always good. Although the dancing is limited on this one, it’s a unique album that just may go down as the turning point in her career.

When you’re considered a pop icon, you’re expected to bring pop hits with you, but “ANTI” will be yet another timeless album that ranks among her best.

Can’t wait to see where she goes from here. Just don’t make us wait three more years, Rih Rih. Please.