Rihanna. "Unapologetic" Def Jam.
When she first hit the music scene in August 2005 with "Pon de Replay," Rihanna was a sweet and sexy girl from Barbados, far more innocent than the woman who released her seventh studio album last month. And, while this new Rihanna has spent the last several years firmly planted in her own personal dark side, "Unapologetic" hints at a more calm, placid maturity that we may see more of in the future.
Certainly, however, the dark side fights through. The first track, "Fresh Out the Runway," is grating without a club atmosphere nearby. Directly after this, however, is her first single, "Diamonds," which is one of the better songs I've heard from her to date.
Other hits on this album are "Stay," which features Mikky Ekko, "What Now," "Love Without Tragedy/Mother Marry" and "Loveeeeeee Song," which features Future.
Though her voice is better than ever, certain tracks on the album are not complementary. While her previous single with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie," was genius, "Numb" falls short of its predecessor. Not only is her voice lacking on this track, the early-day Slim Shady makes an appearance, which I didn't even like back then.
After her very public relationship, break-up and domestic violence scandal with Chris Brown, it's a little surprising they collaborated for this record. Though her restraining order against him has been dropped, I'm not sure I'd rush to the studio with the guy that beat me up; it doesn't matter how long it's been since the incident. Nevertheless, "Nobody's Business" is actually quite good with it's catchy beat and almost-Motown or -Jackson 5 feel.
I hope we see more of this Rihanna. "Pon de Replay" was cute, and "Rated R" had a twisted intrigue to it, but "Unapologetic" balances the money-making club hits with complex, artistic tracks that showcase the best facets of her voice. When it comes to her music and the success that follows, "Unapologetic" will give her nothing to regret, and nothing to apologize for.
"Unapologetic" includes a bit of strong language.