Released: January 28, 2016
Genre: Pop • dancehall • alternative R&B • hip hop
Label: Westbury Road • Roc Nation
Producer: Boi-1da • Brian Kennedy • Chad Sabo • Daniel Jones • DJ Mustard • Fade Majah • Fred Ball • Hit-Boy • Jeff Bhasker • Kevin Parker • Mick Schultz • Mitus • No I.D. • Robert Shea Taylor • Scum • Timbaland
Rihanna has been pop music’s IT girl since the release of her debut single Pon De Replay in 2005. By 2016, she was truly a force in the entertainment industry, releasing successful 7 studio albums, and 13 number one singles, tying with Michael Jackson at the time.
So much happened in Rihanna’s life after the release of her 2012 album Unapologetic: from taking a hiatus from music, leaving the label that signed her at the beginning of her career (Def Jam) to sign fully with mentor and manager Jay-Z’s Roc Nation company and acquired the masters to all of her recordings and that her upcoming eighth studio album was going to be released through her own record label Westbury Road.
2015 was a year we saw Rihanna come back into the entertainment scene, releasing the three singles FourFiveSeconds, Bitch Better Have My Money & American Oxygen, and starred in the animation film Home.
In late 2015, Rihanna signed a $25 million contract with Samsung to promote their galaxy phones and to sponsor the release of her upcoming tour and album. The pair also launched the website for the R8 album, titled ANTIdairy…which showcased eight “rooms” that were related to her previous albums, with clues and details for the new album and throughout her career.
R8 was eventually titled Anti. Anti was described as being a person who is opposed to a particular policy, activity or idea. So with this definition, I view the album as a piece of work that is made based on what Rihanna wants from a record. In fact, the actual album is a departure from Rihanna’s dance friendly radio hits, and is from more a soulful place. The goal was timeless records that were soulful and be a testament to her career going forward. Rihanna did just that with Anti, because it’s just something that is organic, orgasmic and relatable with the album. The replay value is outrageous because you can listen to this album 32,000 times and never get tired of it.
With elements of pop, dancehall, alternative R&B, hip hop, soul and trap, Anti contained themes of relationships, artistic freedom, self-assurance and the art of being unapologetic. What I gained after listening to this album 500 million times since its release is that Rihanna focused on being true to self, being able to express your individuality and not conforming to what people expect from you.
The album cover for Anti was really iconic within itself because not only did it represent the name of the album, but is a portrait of Rihanna on her first day of daycare with a gold crown around her face with the entire packaging being in braille. It has been said to change the history of album art and she said it is her most favorite one of her career.
By continuing to follow her own instincts, her work strives to make an impact by doing the very antithesis of what the public expects.
Anti was originally scheduled for release via Tidal, with Samsung purchasing one million copies of the album, but was leaked on the same day..which was January 27, 2016.Two days after its release, the RIAA certified the album Platinum and has since been certified 3x platinum. The album has peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 & Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts respectively, and has spent over 250 weeks on the charts, being the first album by a Black woman in Billboard 200 history. THAT REIGN JUST WON’T LET UP!
Anti has become one of my favorite albums from Rihanna. I have loved everything about it since the beginning: the meaning of the album, the cover, the songs, lyrics, you name it. I had the amazing pleasure of going to see her for the second time when she went on tour for the support of the album, and I must say. It was truly amazing to see how vocally she’s grown
Ladies & Gentlemen, I present to you: Rihanna’s Anti.
Consideration featuring SZA
Written by Solange Rowe • Tyran Donaldson • Robyn Fenty
I got to do things my own way darling. Will you ever let me
Will you ever respect me? No
Do things my own way darling
You should just let me
Why you ain’t ever let me grow?Rihanna, SZA, 2016
The album opens up with Consideration, which is a 90s trip hop inspired track. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about the artist being frustrated with records labels not allowing them to have creative control. Like do they ever respect you for who and what you are. ” With Rihanna creating her own label after the departure from Def Jam, it is obvious they didn’t give Rihanna the creative freedom she desired.
Consideration was the perfect opening track for the album because it is. a clear indicator of what we’re going to expect during the Anti experience. Rihanna is confident, resilient and ready to express herself musically the way she wants to.
Written by Robert Taylor • James Fauntleroy • Robyn Fenty
The illustrious masterpiece goes into the 4/20 themed interlude, “James Joint.” “I’d rather be smoking weed, whenever we breathe…every time you kiss me. Don’t say that you miss me. Just come get me,” is played through a Stevie Wonder inspired track that was named after one of Rihanna’s frequent collaborator, James Fauntleroy.
Kiss It Better
Written by Jeff Bhasker • John Glass • Teddy Sinclair • Robyn Fenty
Kiss It Better is one of my favorite songs from Rihanna of all time. With elements of pop, synth-rock and R&B, Kiss It Better is a refreshing take of a record that clearly has influences from what an 80s record would sound like.
From a lyrical perspective, the song is about the singer being in a relationship that is so toxic, so destructive yet so addicting and irresistible. Throughout the song, we find the singer wanting to find a way to reconcile and make things better, hence the title.
While receiving rave reviews from fans and critics, the song was released as a dual single with Needed Me, and peaked in the top ten on the UK R&B charts and top 40 on the Billboard R&B charts respectively. The song was sampled for Fat Joe’s Sunshine (The Light) record.
Work featuring Drake
Written by Jahron Braithwaite • Matthew Samuels • Allen Ritter • Rupert Thomas • Aubrey Graham • Robyn Fenty • Monte Moir
My entire world stopped the moment Work was released as the official lead single from the Anti album. I remember it like it was yesterday: I was working on campus at my college for a catering gig. & I just remember my phone blowing up from Rihanna dropping a new single with frequent collaborator Drake. I was shook chile! It was something different, but I loved it from the beginning.
With elements of dancehall, reggae-pop & R&B, Work is a song that is lyrically about getting to the money no matter what is going on in life, while also discussing the fragility of relationships. For Rihanna’s lyrics in the song, she is interested in a deep and meaningful connection with a man and her male counterpart (Drake) is only interested in a sexual connection.
The song was another successful record for Rihanna and Drake, giving Rihanna her fourteenth number-one song in the United States, breaking another record of being the fourth artist with the most number ones after Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey & The Beatles. Work remained on the charts at number one for nine weeks, and was certified 8x platinum by the RIAA. The song contains an interpolation of Alexander O’Neal’s If You Were Here Tonight.
Written by Krystin Watkins • Mick Schultz • Robyn Fenty • James Fauntleroy • Derrus Rachel
One thing I’ve always said I loved about Rihanna is her versatility as artist. Desperado is one of those records where we get an alternative trap country record from Rihanna. I fell in love with this song even more when I saw her on tour, because after the bridge she puts her octaves to use and hit a nice high note and it was magical to me. From a lyrical perspective, the song speaks to skipping town with the one she loves or getting left behind, and pays homage to western films.
Written by Chauncey Hollis • Jacques Webster • Jeremy Felton • Abel Tesfaye • Robyn Fenty • Terius Nash • Derrus Rachel • Jean Baptist
Woo is definitely one of my favorite songs from the Anti album, and whew it is truly an experience. It truly is something difference from what we’ve come to expect from Ms. Fenty.
From a lyrical perspective, the song is about the singer’s ex still not over the pair’s relationship..and the singer knows anyone who comes after her isn’t competition. She brags about how powerful her love is, so he just needs to send for her and see what it could be once he sees how unhappy he is. Eventually the singer’s tone shifts from being confident to very vulnerable.
Written by Dijon McFarlane • Robyn Fenty • Nick Audino • Lewis Hughes • Khaled Rohaim • Te Warbrick • Adam Feeney • Brittany Hazzard • Charles Hinshaw • Derrus Rachel
But baby, don’t get it twisted. You was just another nigga on the hit list, tryna fix your issues with a bad bitch. Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage?Rihanna, 2016
One thing about Rihanna is she’s going to give you an ANTHEM. Needed Me is a female empowerment anthem for the savages! The ones who isn’t putting up with a man’s bullshit at all. If you ask me, the lyrics should make the most misogynistic man that idolizes Kevin Samuels to shit on himself. I love everything about the production. With elements of dubstep & electro-R&B, Needed Me is mellow and a nice vibe.
From a lyrical perspective, Needed Me speaks to reversing the stereotypical gender roles, and romantic rejection. The singer speaks to a man who expected a relationship to advance further from an one night stand. Her lyrics saying “don’t they tell you that I was a savage? Fuck your white horse and a carriage” shows that the singer moves like men do and they can’t handle it!
The song was released as a dual single with Kiss It Better, peaking at number one on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 charts respectively. The song has also been certified 7x platinum by the RIAA.
Yeah, I Said It
Written by Timothy Mosley ・Bibi Bourelly ・Even Barnes ・Daniel Jones ・Chris Godbey ・Jean-Paul Bourelly ・Robyn Fenty
Yeah, I Said It is a song about pure sex. Nasty sex on the camera & all, and I love everything about it!
Same Ol’ Mistakes
Written by Kevin Parker
Same Ol’ Mistakes is one of the highlights of the album, and rightfully so. A cover of Tame Impala’s New Person, Same Old Mistakes, Rihanna’s Same Ol’ Mistakes follows the same formula and concept as the original and had the approval of Tame Impala..who enjoyed the cover. The song, which features elements of psych-rock, is one of Rihanna’s best songs, proving that she can make the timeless songs that she sought to make.
Written by Paul Herman ・Chad Sabo ・Robyn Fenty ・Dido Armstrong
Never Ending is one of Anti’s underrated gems. It is a masterpiece and a song that is a big vibe when you are in your feelings. From a lyrical perspective, the song is about the complexities of learning how to love again. The song contains interpolations from Dido’s Thank You.
Love on the Brain
MY FAVORITE SONG ON THE ANTI ALBUM IS LOVE ON THE BRAIN. Before I listened to the album in its entirety, I listened just out of pure curiosity. & I damn near cried. Rihanna is at her best vocally. She sounds like an angel. & I love everything about it. The production was truly perfection. I am a sucker for soulful ballads from the 50s and 60s. Love on the Brain embodies my weakness, with elements of soul, doo-wop & rock.
From a lyrical perspective, the songs speaks about the highs and lows of a toxic &b destructive relationship that is hard to shake. The song was released as the album’s fourth and final single, peaking in the top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 & Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts respectively.
Written by Ernest Wilson ・Bibi Bourelly ・Robyn Fenty ・James Fauntleroy ・Kenny Gamble ・Jerry Butler ・Leon Huff
Higher is another special song on the album to me. From a lyrical perspective, Rihanna compared the song to a drunk voicemail, stating that “You know he’s wrong, and then you get drunk and you’re like you could forgive him. I could call him. I could make up with him. Just, desperate.”
I definitely think Higher is exactly comparable to a voicemail, and I love it everything about it. Higher’s production is what really gets me because it gives real Philadelphia soul vibes, which ironically sampled elements from Beside You by The Soulful Strings.
Close to You
Written by Brian Seals ・James Fauntleroy ・Robyn Fenty
The standard edition of the album closes with the haunting & thrilling piano ballad Close To You. Lyrically, the song is about the singer’s struggle to move on from a past love. It is definitely a relatable song, because we’ve definitely have been there. when she says “I know you don’t need my protection, but I’m in love, can’t blame me for checking,” it hits home because love is too powerful. It’ll never be easy to just let go of someone you truly loved.
If you don’t think ANTi was one of the best albums of 2016, you’re delusional. Anti was literally going against the means of what is expected of Rihanna. When the album was released, many people didn’t give the album a chance because of it was the complete opposite of anything that Rihanna has ever released. However as the album had a chance to grow on people (especially during the singer’s musical break,) it is truly her best so far, and I am excited to what’s to come. Rihanna’s Anti showcased her artistic growth, vocal abilities and was truly the proof that she is here to stay. ❤️ -MW