Rihanna – Rated R

August 18, 2010 at 5:43 PM | Posted in Rihanna | Leave a comment

Rihanna – Rated R

1. Mad House
2. Wait Your Turn
3. Hard (feat. Jeezy)
4. Stupid In Love
5. Rockstar 101 (feat. Slash)
6. Russian Roulette
7. Fire Bomb
8. Rude Boy
9. Photographs (feat. will.i.am)
10. G4L
11. Te Amo
12. Cold Case Love
13. The Last Song
♦ ♦ ♦

Rated R is the fourth album by Barbadian singer Rihanna, and it was released on November 20, 2009, by Def Jam Records. Conceived after Rihanna’s assault by her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, Rated R features a foreboding and angry tone, in terms of musical and lyrical direction.
The album debuted at #4 on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 181,000 copies in the first week, making it Rihanna’s highest-selling debut in the United States. As of August 2010, Rated R has sold more than 3 million copies.

My gosh, what an introduction! Mad House> starts of as haunting and pretty scary, freaky male voice-over included. It’s like I entered the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland or something. Right after that, percussion comes right in, together with Rihanna’s voice while she’s singing her welcome. Creepy, argh!

Wait Your Turn is the first full length track on the album, and it displays a Hiphop/Electrohop sound, kinda dubstep actually. The verses are kept a little plain, but the chorus sounds pretty cool to me! I like the use of percussion in this song, and the synths make things really mysterious and haunting. Rihanna’s vocals are very good as well, especially in the chorus, which is my favourite part.

Back to poppin’ Urban/Hiphop with Hard (feat. Jeezy). The song uses aggressive synths, a fierce percussion beat and even piano, which gives it this special flavour. I like this song more than the previous, because it makes more sense musically. Jeezy’s voice freaks me out a bit, I don’t know what they did to it while editing this song, but still it suits this song so well.

The first ballad on this album is Stupid In Love, and it’s mostly led by a piano and strings. The track is midtempo, and the percussion features a bass and finger snaps. The lyrics may be cheesy sometimes, but most of the times she really lays some emotion in her voice while singing and adlibbing. Singing in harmony with herself suits her voice ofcourse, and this song is very likeable.

Rockstar 101 (feat. Slash) sounds like a typical rock song, but it’s rock mixed with Hiphop/R&B. The Hiphop/R&B comes from the percussion beat and the way Rihanna uses her (good sounding) voice, especially in the verses, and ofcourse Slash takes care of the rocky part with his guitar. The bridge doesn’t really fit in well, because she takes it to another tone level that sounds less foreboding, but she goed right back to that melancholic tone afterwards. Weird, but it’s fine to me, because it’s an acceptable song.

I gave Russian Roulette a lot of listens since it came out as a single on November 3, 2009. It’s that foreboding sound again, a piano, midtempo percussion and strings. I liked it a lot at first, also because of the beautiful yet black metaphorical lyrics, which Rihanna herself describes as ‘poetry’. I still like it today, but I don’t listen to it that much because this is a song that is addictive in the beginning, but gets more blegh after a while. Don’t get me wrong, still a very good song to say the least!

This next song brings back memories, although not related to the lyrics, so I like this veeeery much. Fire Bomb sounds less black musically, because it’s neither euforical or melancholic, but the lyrics still sound a bit on the darker side, just like the other tracks. In the second verse, Rihanna sings in different tone hights  with herself, and that comes off as a good surprise. I looove the electric guitar in the background, especially in the parts after the chorus.

The lyrics in Rude Boy are dirty, like they are about sex or something. The beat is very smooth, and this features more of a Jamaican dancehall/ska style compared to previous tracks. Here’s another single I actually liked when I first heared it, and though Rihanna’s voice has been criticized as being monotonous, I think she sings with care.

Rihanna teams up with producer and Black Eyed Peas leading man will.i.am for Photographs. The intro and the first verse start off calm to make you think this is a guitar led ballad, but Rihanna’s singing tempo indicates a higher tempo coming up. Which in fact does come up near the chorus, so this develops into a pop/dance song. It’s not a ballad, but there’s no energy as well. will.i.am doesn’t add much sense into this song either. It’s repetitive and only so-so.

The next song, G4L, which I think stands for ‘Gangster for life’, mixes electro/dance with more a more aggressive kind of Hiphop. Rihanna uses more computer-ish sounds in her instruments than before. I don’t like her lyrics all that much, she sounds like a male rapper while singing things like ‘niggah’ and stuff. She’s a girl, I don’t get it. Could be just me. Still, I like the Hiphop music since it’s just her style and she’s all about it.

Te Amo displays more of a Latin dancehall sound, and features a more personal side of Rihanna. She sings about the struggles of being the object of women’s desire. Rihanna seems to introduce Spanish guitars and castagnettes into her music for the first time, which make this song both sensual and groovy because of the underlying synth melody. I like it, but it’s not a song I’d play over and over again.

I can’t really follow the melody of Cold Case Love, but I immediately stay interested because the sound of Rihanna’s altered voice with an organ. Later a strange percussion-like sound drops in, and this sort of develops into something more understandeable near the middle of the song. This is unique material on this album because it’s not compairable to other tracks, and I like that unique quality. Rihanna’s voice is not on the foreground, the music is more, and when some good percussion and an electric guitar solo drop in after the bridge, I forgive this song for being over 6 minutes long.

The Last Song really is the last song on the album, and sounds like a ballad. In the introduction, only synth cords and Rihanna’s voice are used before a disonant electric guitar and a piano are heard. The lyrics aren’t dark but more emotional this time, and this song has been kept overly calm in the beginning, while it gains more dramatic moments near the end. It captures me, really. Why didn’t I hear this song before? Another guitar solo? Count me in, Rihanna!

Although this album appears to be so dark and foreboding, I can appreciate this side of Rihanna very well. She focused a lot on her personal life lately, and that’s reflected in the music as well as the lyrics she sings. She features a lot of musical styles on this album, and most prominent are Hiphop/R&B, pop and sometimes a little dancehall. A few tracks not included, she produces a golden album full of music that represent her new style and her new ‘me’. I have no regrets for listening to this new CD of hers, or even better: I think this album helped Rihanna a lot in her maturing. From careless Barbadian girl to a fully grown mature woman, her development was right here in my CD-player.

Favorite tracks: Hard (feat. Jeezy) | Fire Bomb | Cold Case Love | The Last Song


3½ stars


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