Release Date: Nov 16, 2010
Record label: Def Jam
Genre(s): Pop, R&B, Dance-Pop, Contemporary R&B
Last year was possibly the nadir of Rihanna?s young life, and it showed all over her aptly titled Rated R — a bleak, bullet-cased chronicle of a domestic-violence victim?turned?sonic vigilante. Loud, the 22-year-old Barbados native?s fifth disc, comes almost a year to the day after R, and only scant traces of that wounded warrior remain. In her place is a rebooted pop vixen, a Caribbean-accented kitten with a whip.
Rejoice: Rihanna is having fun again. If she's not spilling milk with Drake in a (impressively spotless) bodega in her "What's My Name?" video, she's playfully grabbing Nicki Minaj's ass at the American Music Awards or living out millions of karaoke dreams by singing "Livin' on a Prayer" with Bon Jovi during a recent show in Madrid. All the while whipping her neon-stop-sign hair and smiling and throwing up ridiculous devil's horns.
Without question, Robyn “Rihanna” Fenty has carved a thorough little niche for herself in the world of Hip Hop. Most question Rihanna’s presence on a website that caters to rappers and producers. Why is she here you ask? The answer is: why not? Rihanna’s fifth studio album Loud might not meet the stringent standards of Hip Hop, but like most of your favorite rappers, her eye is on mainstream domination.
You don’t often get revealing moments at album playbacks. Excellent canapés and cheeky cocktails on diamanté-dripping trays, yes; epiphanies, no. So last month at London’s Sketch bar, when [a]Rihanna[/a] was asked by a besuited Capital FM DJ as they introduced her new track ‘[b]Cheers (Drink To That)[/b]’ whether she really was prone to a bevvy, her wavering response of “Well, it’s mostly when I eat that I drink…” was telling.
On the lucifugous, black and white cover of Rated R, Rihanna was literally and figuratively, a woman battered down. With weighty themes pouring from the blond-spotted beauty, the world saw the heavy cracks of a young woman defeated. But her music only partly portrayed this; the Carib-pop gem Rude Boy lashed out and thus, a summer hit ensued, giving us hope of Ri-Ri returning to an effervescence she once held.
For an album titled Loud, Loud isn’t as LOUD as you might hope. Lacking sirens, klaxons, triple drumming action and most criminally, Busta Rhymes, it’s plainly not quite the relentless party record fans had been foretold of. It’s more of a mash up of Rihanna’s career thus far, featuring a mix of the dance floor fillers of Good Girl Gone Bad, the slickly produced insular thoughts of Rated R and the Barbadian styling of her earliest singles.
Loud would not sound quite so slapdash if it did not follow Good Girl Gone Bad, one of the best pop albums of its decade, and Rated R, one of the most fascinating pop albums of the same time frame. This album, released less than a year after the latter, also has the misfortune of arriving with no fanfare; a dramatic intro proclaiming “The wait is ova,” à la Rated R's opening track, would be silly. Even without considering the weight of what it follows, there’s no getting past the notion that Loud is as uneven as Rihanna’s first two albums.
After comparing last year's Rated R to Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope, Eric Henderson ended his review of the album by expressing hopes that Rihanna wouldn't follow up with something like All for You. At first glance, it appears that his fears were justified: Like Janet's last hit album, Loud is a decided step away from its über-personal, melodrama-drenched predecessor. While that may disappoint critics like Eric and me, however, it's probably smart business.
While geeks like me like to sit around debating the merits of Rihanna’s sustainability this far into her career—being that she can’t sing—the moment “What’s My Name” peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, two things were certified for me. First: Drake is definitely a go-to songwriter right now, no matter your thoughts on his music individually.
Five albums into her career, hip-hop's hardest-working hook singer chooses swagger over subtlety on Loud, a scattered, sporadically satisfying effort that lives up to its title. Rihanna boasts a sharp, strident voice, a take-charge attitude and some of the top songwriters in pop. What her songs lack is character, not always essential on a hook or number-one hit, but after 11 tracks of ear-splitting vocals you begin to wonder if the 22-year-old is overcompensating.
An arresting fifth collection featuring turns from Eminem and Drake. James Skinner 2010 Rihanna’s fifth album in as many years has been described by the singer as "sassy, fun, flirty, energetic" – a return to the slick pop with which she made her name following last year’s darker Rated R. But it’s not quite that simple; after all, that album delivered the dancehall smash Rude Boy while this record closes with Love the Way You Lie (Part II), an affecting sequel to her Eminem collaboration that takes on added relevance given the domestic abuse she suffered at the hands of ex-boyfriend Chris Brown.
RIHANNA “Loud” (Def Jam). It’s back to business as usual — flirting, titillating, indulging, romancing — for Rihanna on her fifth album, “Loud.” She’s resuming her persona as the party girl with the glint of danger..