Rihanna’s latest masterpiece shows personal side

“Anti” presents pop star’s best work to date

aeanticourtesywestburyroad

Rihanna's latest effort shows great depth.

Courtesy Westbury Road

Rihanna’s long (anti)cipated eighth studio album, “Anti,” was finally released this past week. After over a year of teasing, single releases, promotions and advertisements, the pop music magnate has finally delivered. This is the singer’s first full album since 2012’s “Unapologetic,” which featured the hit single “Diamonds.”

Since her last album, Rihanna has successfully cemented herself as an entrepreneur and fashion icon. In the past three years, she has become Creative Director of Puma, secured another Grammy for her chart-topping collaboration with Eminem, “The Monster,” starred in the animated movie “Home” and participated in a fashion campaign for Dior — just to name a few of her recent ventures.

Rihanna is not invested in creating an album of chart-topping hits with this record. She has replaced her typical pop sound with a much more brooding, intimate record.

“Anti” will not be played at raves; only a few songs have catchy, radio-ready choruses fans find familiar. If fans are looking for her next “We Found Love,” this isn’t a similar album.

Rihanna has built her empire on her bold musical and fashion statements, her sassy, straightforward presence and her pride as an artist and as a woman. This unwavering strength is reigned in significantly for this album. However, therein lies the beauty and magnificence of “Anti.”

Rihanna has clearly taken much more control over the creative process of her work with “Anti.” Overlooking the heinous corporate distraction of Samsung’s “ANTIdiaRy” publicity campaign, the music on “Anti” feels much more personal.

Rihanna’s vocals are the best they’ve ever been. “Love on the Brain” and “Higher” are her most impressive vocal performances since “Stay.” In comparison to her earlier ballads, like “Take a Bow,” “Rehab” and “Russian Roulette,” “Higher” is a soaring ballad and a true standout on the album.

Other standouts include lead single “Work,” the highly-teased pop song “Kiss It Better” and the sultry “Needed Me.” “Work” has the repetitious island vibe Rihanna has become famous for, serving as an excellent sequel to the songstress’s 2010 duet with Drake, “What’s My Name?” The catchy song, with the island patois she employs, is a radio hit for sure. On “Kiss It Better,” the midtempo song is the most “pop” effort on “Anti” and is already a fan favorite, having trended on Twitter upon the album’s release.

With “Anti,” Rihanna has put her best foot forward. She is proving to her fans she is not bound under the demands of a label and can create the music she wants to create.

“Anti,” her most tight-knit album, features a consistent sound and theme, something fans haven’t seen from Rihanna since “Rated R.” Her artistry shines through with her most successful musical era to date.

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