Rihanna. Rated R. Review.

. Tuesday, 24 November 2009
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Rihanna has carefully stayed under the radar since the whole Chris Brown 'incident'. She has only just started giving interviews to promote her album, and hadn't performed live for months. There is no doubt that this album- even if she will or won't admit it- is about the terrible domestic abuse committed against her, and how she is overcoming the struggle to face the world again. The startling black and white cover gives some inclination into how the album will pan out, but nothing could prepare you for this. My thoughts...
The album opener starts with a haunting, chilling speech that sounds like it come straight from the circus. If "Mad House" is anything to go by this album is going to be emotion-driven, and as far away from Good Girl Gone Bad as possible.

The first 'official' track- "Wait Your Turn"- which I have reviewed here, is still as edgy as ever, but I don't believe this 'ball of fire' is a grower, and the song can become tiresome after the tenth-or-so listen, but only die-hard fans will listen to it that much, but they won't care!
Preceding "Russian Roulette", is the second single "Hard"- an authentic piece of work that definitely doesn't disappoint. Rihanna's voice is perfectly suited to this chilled music that I believe reflects her resistance to Chris Brown. Is that a slight Jamaican influence I hear?..
A re-vamped, faster version of "Take a Bow" is the fourth track: "Stupid in Love". Although I prefer TaB, this song could easily be a single, and with the right promotion, Rihanna may have another top-five ht on her hands. I love the continuous clicks, and synthesised drums that don't drop the new emotional and sincere pretence.
To prove that Rihanna has finally gone to the 'dark-side' her record company have plonked Slash (!!) into "Rockstar 101" even though it's already incredibly strong and doesn't actually need him, but the guitar he adds is pretty spectacular. The stripped-down beat suits her voice perfectly, and shows off how much it has matured over the years. The collaboration will probably mean that this track is a single, which isn't a bad move. Love it.
Next is one of my favourite singles of this year, and is by far the most superior track on the album. "Russian Roulette" is written from the heart, and is the most deep and emotional song from the album. Ne-Yo works his magic. Again. And creates another masterpiece- my review here.
The glitchy, shaky beginning leads into "Fire Bomb". This is perhaps the greatest use of Rihanna's experienced, rough voice throughout the album. I prefer this track to "Stupid in Love", and I would must rather this was a single. The crazy, jittery riff introduces a new way to present a ballad. I love the burning city ending.
Moving swiftly into a electro-synthy vibe is "Rude Boy". This is the closest Rated R gets to Good Girl Gone Bad. Rihanna creates a sweet edge to her voice, and this complements the experimental lyrics and bouncy beats. Not my favourite, but still pretty nice. Not what I would expect from a track called "Rude Boy".
Another star-studded track is "Photographs" featuring BEP singer Will.I.Am. The lyrics and slow beat remind me instantly of "Cry". Will's voice blends instantly to RiRi's, but I'm not sure if this is natural. A track to please her fans at concerts. Sound like something Cheryl Cole would record-dare I say it- but a lot better. The album's weakest point, I believe.
As the album progresses I feel that we slightly lose the roughness, which I adore so much. "G4L"- a strange name- is again full of electro vibes. The track with the most 'Parental-Advisory', Rihanna is not afraid to experiment, and set the bar with this funky number.
The only leaked track that made the album is "Te Amo", and shows Rihanna stripped down to her bare emotions. A sweet, strong consistent song, with a great drum-line pulsating through the potential-single. Slightly Brazilian?
Penultimately is "Cold Case Love" beginning with haunting, echoing spurt of vocals that send a chill through you spine. The song doesn't pick up speed, and is the slowest of all thirteen- an haunting number? It's fresh and nearly sounds live with the heavy bongos.
To finish this one hell of an album, Rihanna presents "The Last Song"- ironic huh? It follows suit of the track before. It's soft, and therefore making it hard to escape Rihanna not-so-subtle hints of domestic abuse. A perfect ending, that shows off her adaptable voice with ease.

Wow, this is possibly the best album of the year. I would never of thought four years ago that the cheesy "SOS" star could ever be capable of anything like this. Granted, that she had an army of producers and writers to assist her, but there is no doubt Rihanna has a rare, raw talent.