Rihanna's Rated R Is 'So Great,' Producer Says

'I think she's a pop icon, so her music should reflect that,' Chuck Harmony says.

When [artist id="1940303"]Rihanna[/artist] released "Russian Roulette," the lead single from Rated R on Tuesday, a lot of people were surprised that it wasn't some empowering club banger.

And although reactions are mixed when it comes to the haunting song about an abusive relationship, Chuck Harmony, who produced it with Ne-Yo, insists that the track and the album are a reflection of Rihanna's growth as an artist.

Harmony told MTV News that no matter how you feel about the track, the album will prove that Rihanna is the Madonna of her generation. "I sat through mix sessions and I heard some of the songs on the record. It fits in well," he said of "Russian Roulette."

The song is a bit darker than some of Rihanna's past singles, but Harmony said that isn't indicative of the rest of the album. "I think Rihanna has captured what her old fans are used to, as well as the growth of an artist. 'Russian Roulette,' to me, is a shining example of her growth and her artistic expression," he said. " 'Russian Roulette' is definitely taking her to another level. I think she's a pop icon, so her music should reflect that."

Harmony added that he still can't believe his track was picked to kick off her comeback, because there was just too much great material to pick from. "I was actually shocked I got the first single 'cause the album is so great," he said.

Although Harmony is one of Rihanna's colleagues, he says he's just as interested as anyone in how the singer is marketing herself, including the single's provocative cover art. "It fits in with the song," he said of the photo. "The way it's unfolding is so genius. Like, 'The wait is ova' [message on her site]. I was waiting too. I wanted to see the cover, I wanted to hear the song. It's one of those records where you just don't know. It's not a faith record. It's one of those thought-provoking records."