Status update on that Rihanna reign: still not letting up.
Right now at this very moment, Rihanna’s on a Boeing 777 carrying all manner of Navy members and journalists (who are apparently on the verge of losing their minds), flying all over the world to perform seven shows in seven countries in seven days on her ridiculously ambitious “777” Tour. Why? To promote Unapologetic — her seventh record since 2005 (that’s seven albums in eight years, by the way), which officially drops today in the U.S. Oh, na na!
The 24-year-old Bajan beauty’s latest studio effort blends together the darker textures of 2009’s Rated R with the bossy brattitude of 2011’s Talk That Talk, while exploring some less radio-friendly territory in the process. Sure, there’s still a fair share of club bangers for all the rude boys and bad girls, but for a majority of the album, Princess RiRi’s laying back, feeling moody, and getting high…up in the clouds, that is.
And so, to celebrate the release, we’ve gone through each and every single track on Unapologetic for a complete analysis. With words, yes…but more important, with GIFs. Shine bright like a GIF post, Navy!
Read our track-by-track review of Rihanna’s Unapologetic after the jump!
1.) “Phresh Out The Runway”
Just a few seconds into the first serving from her seventh set, RiRi’s already putting in work with a noisy, trap-tastic twerker à la “Birthday Cake,” complete with blazin’ beats, brags aplenty, and one nazzzty — dare I say, unapologetic — attitude: “How could you be so hood, but you so f***ing pop?” Ri ponders to herself as she struts and poses her way down the runway. I don’t know how you can pull it off either, RiRi, but you do. And you do it well.
For the lead single from her campaign, RiRi pulled a fast one — by releasing a slow one — in direct contrast to her last few killer club cuts. Everything about this gorgeous midtempo positively shimmers — from RiRi’s soulful crooning and Sia-inspired enunciation (“shayn brahyt like a diamond!”), to the tribal drum beat and icy ’80s-encrusted synthesizers — making this not only one of the year’s best, but one of Rihanna’s finest tracks yet.
3.) “Numb” (featuring Eminem)
It’s been a minute since the duo teamed up for “Love The Way You Lie,” but RiRi and Slim Shady have reunited once again — and this time, they’re feeling the side effects from their love overdose. But this time their love’s not so much broken as it is dazed and delirious: “I’m going numb, I’m going numb,” RiRi dreamily coos on repeat atop the song’s trippy island beat. Later on, Eminem cuts in for his own form of swooning: “I’m the butt police, and I’m looking at your rear-rear-rear!” Ah, romance.
4.) “Pour It Up”
Getting back into banger territory, RiRi’s pulling out her dollar bills at the strip club, getting tipsy, and bragging loudly: “All I see is signs, all I see is dollar signs,” she declares, one of the many instantly catchy hooks on the minimal, tripping hip-hop beat. “Pour it up, pour it up…that’s how we ball out,” she declares. But the moody (if not slightly creepy) beats make this one deceivingly darker than the lyrics might imply, navigating deeper into Rated R territory.
5.) “Loveeeee Song” (featuring Future)
RiRi’s back in the love zone, this time teaming up with Future atop a dreamy, baby makin’, early ’90s R&B beat: “I don’t want to give you the wrong impression, I need love and affection,” Future repeatedly pleads, sounding like he’s nearly gagging on the words. RiRi keeps her crazysexycool throughout, confidently commanding her way across the track: “Say my name, boy/ Let me know I’m in control.” Janet would almost certainly approve.
RiRi’s got a riding crop in hand, and she’s about to teach you a lesson: “You don’t need another lover, don’t you let it go/ I already got it covered, let the others know,” she instructs. And after taking Ginuwine’s “Pony” for a ride in the sexy, slow-burning chorus (!), RiRi suddenly takes a dive into an almighty dubstep breakdown that utterly decimates the speakers, leaving no pony unriden and no hip untwerked. It’s the baddest track on the album (in the best of ways, obviously). It’s like 2012’s “Rude Boy.” Jump on it!
7.) “Right Now” (featuring David Guetta)
If “Jump”’s dubstep drops tickled your EDM fancy, prepare for further slayage: Teaming up with David Guetta for the first time since “Who’s That Chick,” the Bajan beauty secures her spot on the dance floor with “Right Now,” a spot-on (if not slightly paint-by-numbers) Top 40 dance-pop smash. “We young right now/ We got right now, so get up right now/ ’Cause all we got is right now,” she rih-minds us. As with Ke$ha’s “Die Young” and One Direction’s “Live While We’re Young,” Ri’s all about seizing the day-ay-ay.
8.) “What Now”
OK, so what happens after “Right Now”? RiRi’s wondering the same thing! Emotionally torn and entirely vulnerable, “What Now” finds RiRi coming up with way, way, way more questions than answers and a whole lot of inner strife on the devastating power ballad: “There’s no one to call cause I’m just playing games with them all/ The more I swear I’m happy, the more that I’m feeling alone,” she cries out at one point. It’s Ri’s most poignant offering on the record, and perhaps one of the best displays of her vocal chops ever.
9.) “Stay” (featuring Mikky Ekko)
Rihanna already wowed us with her gorgeous acoustic performance on “Saturday Night Live” last week, and the album version proves equally impressive: “Not really sure how to feel about it, something in the way you move/ Makes me feel like I can’t live without you,” Ri cries out. Indie rocker Mikky Ekko’s crisp vocals blend beautifully with RiRi’s, resulting in a devastating torch track that once again proves that Rihanna is way more than just a radio-friendly pop princess.
10.) “Nobody’s Business” (featuring Chris Brown)
All problematic pairings aside, this sparkling groove is a pure disco-pop gem: “You’ll always be the one that I want to come home to, boy,” RiRi happily declares on top the strutting, funkified beat that heavily borrows from Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.” Later on, the two trade off on lovey-dovey promises to each other. “You’ll always be my girl,” Brown coos. It’s easily one of the album standouts, even if the subtext is a bit, uh, controversial.
11.) “Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary”
Gliding across a new wave guitar riff that might as well be straight out of Sting’s “Message In A Bottle,” RiRi traces the events of a particular night from her past gone terribly wrong: “Who knew the course of this one drive injured us fatally?” she cries out. Later on, the synthesizers sparkle and burn out as “Mother Mary” pours into the speakers, a revelatory, Madonna-esque moment of introspection: “I’m prepared to die in the moment,” RiRi declares above the triumphant beat. It’s the album’s mini-epic, and another major moment in RiRi’s rih-petoire.
12.) “Get It Over With”
Getting high like diamonds in the sky isn’t always such a happy affair: Gliding across mournful strings and the gentlest of beatbox beats, RiRi airs her frustrations: “You keep thundering/ Won’t you just f***in’ rain, and get it over with?” she croons on the pensive number. But with such heaven-sent production and lovely crooning, it’s hard to feel too angry.
13.) “No Love Allowed”
By the album’s end, RiRi’s diving into Bob Marley territory as she glides across a jaunty Caribbean beat and lets her island girl enunciation fly freely: “Like a bullet, your love hit me to the core/ I was fly until you knocked me to the floor,” Ri croons, bringing Loud’s “Man Down” to mind. And once again, she’s talking about murder–err, “mur-dah.” Ay, yeah, yeah, yeah!
14.) “Lost in Paradise”
Rihanna’s “Paradise” feels like a brief foray into Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as the singer finds herself wandering in between hazy electronica, distant crooning, and crushing drum rhythms. “All my fears are gone tonight/ I’m lost in paradise,” Ri calls out, closing out the record while drowning in a sea of electronica — something she doesn’t seem to mind doing one bit.
Photo credits: Island Def Jam Records