Album Review: Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’

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    Rihanna Unapologetic TheLavaLizard
    The cover of Rihanna’s new album, ‘Unapologetic’.

    Myth states that the third time is the charm but Rihanna took seven albums to find her voice, thus proving that the number is lucky, blessed and highly favoured. Indeed, after years of nasal groaning and shameless laziness, the world’s most famous Bajan has finally taken a step in the right direction with her latest offering, ‘Unapologetic’.

    When people try to pick the least offensive of Rihanna’s album, the lyrically solid ‘Rated R’ and the radio-friendly ‘Loud’ often lead the pack. Yet, as a result of her deplorable attempts at singing on the former and the shallow content of the latter, neither effort reflects the work of an artist with the potential to have a lasting presence in this industry. Fortunately, ‘Unapologetic’ captures the best elements of both albums.

    Emancipating herself from vocal nasality, Rihanna inhales a lungful of oxygen instead of cigarette smoke and reveals the true potential of her unique voice on ‘Unapologetic’. Building from a warm and silky introduction to a powerful climax, she absolutely soars on the record’s best vocal showing, ‘What Now’.

    Other impressive performances include ‘Lost in Paradise’ and the lone deluxe edition cut, ‘Half of Me’. Still, as we maintain a firm grip on reality, Rihanna doesn’t exhibit the type of complex vocal gymnastics on ‘Unapologetic’ that will make Aretha Franklin nervous enough to lose a few hundred pounds in an effort to relaunch her career. Instead, Rihanna simply ascends to the level of a singer who proves that her talent is worthy of our attention.

    Nonetheless, ‘Unapologetic’ wouldn’t be a Rihanna album without a few glaring missteps and there are more fumbles on this disc than in a Mariah Carey dance routine. ‘Pour it Up’ is a blatant rehash of Juicy J’s club smash ‘Bandz a Make Her Dance’, on which Rihanna lazily boasts about everything from her money to her fragrance as she remains unbothered by the collapsing world economy.

    Remember Ginuwine’s breakthrough single, ‘Pony’? Well, Rihanna wastes a sample of that song on ‘Jump’ by surrounding the classic hook with forgettable lyrics and lacklustre sex appeal. On the bright side, the production – provided by StarGate and Chase & Status – prevents the track from completely ruining the legacy of the 1990s stripper anthem.

    “…Rihanna only acts as a mouthpiece; a puppet with a songwriter’s hand up her ever so beautiful backside.”

    Perhaps, the real issue on ‘Unapologetic’ is Rihanna’s imitation of her songwriters. Contrary to popular belief, the ability to clone a demo of a song is not a marker of skill. Honestly, although many of the best singers of our time are not writers, they make each song their own with their unique interpretations. In Rihanna’s case, she only acts as a mouthpiece; a puppet with a songwriter’s hand up her ever so beautiful backside.

    Don’t agree with that assessment? If not then ask yourself why Rihanna’s “rapping” sounds so similar to that of The-Dream on ‘Phresh Off the Runway’ – a song that would have undoubtedly been better performed by Beyonce with her mastery of Hip-Hop-styled phrasing. Unfortunately for Rihanna, however, it is quite difficult to transform a Bajan accent to that of an Australian and she gets lost somewhere off the coast of New Zealand on the Sia-penned ‘Diamonds’.

    Thankfully, Rihanna provides a welcome throwback to her West Indian heritage via the song ‘No Love Allowed’. For years I have been begging, pleading and praying for Rihanna to follow in the footsteps of Tanya Stephens and this tune reaffirms the belief that Reggae music is her true calling.

    Also on the more pleasant side of ‘Unapologetic’ is the far too short ‘Love Without Tragedy’, which is a beautifully crafted play on Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ (you thought I wouldn’t notice the similarity, huh?). The song appears as a medley with equally great ‘Mother Mary’ but they could have easily been extended if the dreary interlude ‘Get It Over With’ was omitted.

    Last on the list of ‘Unapologetic’ songs are ‘Loveeeeeee Song’, which features Future also known as Rihanna in ten years if she continues smoking, the ill-advised ‘Nobody’s Business’ with Chris Brown and the typical Dance/Pop cut ‘Right Now’ via the increasingly redundant David Guetta. Of course, we can’t ignore the bass-heavy ‘Numb’, despite the fact that it entails the weakest guest verse of Eminem’s entire career. “I’m the butt police and I’m looking at your rear rear rear,” he raps as I scan TMZ to see if he has relapsed into is drug habit.

    In conclusion, ‘Unapologetic’ is far from a masterpiece but it is definitely an improvement by Rihanna. Easily her best work to date, the record is represents an act who is slowly finding a balance between commercial viability and artistic integrity. This album isn’t a classic but it certainly helps us to forget ‘Talk That Talk’. Well, almost.

    Standout tracks: ‘No Love Allowed’‘Loveeeeeee Song (Ft. Future)’‘Diamonds’‘Stay (Mikky Ekko)’ and ‘Love Without Tragedy’

    Weakest track: ‘Phresh Off the Runway’

    Possible singles: ‘Lost in Paradise’‘Loveeeeeee Song (Ft. Future), ‘Right Now (Ft. David Guetta)’ and ‘Jump’

    The Lava Lizard Rating: 3/5 Stars

    What do you think of the review?

    • Ugh

      lol….your writing is so shady but i love it. I agree with your review 100%
      Phresh Off The Runway is a flaming hot mess. I was expecting more from Jump out of any other song on the album but it is exactly what you described. What a waste.

      p.s Rated R is my least favourite album of hers. I don’t get why people call it one of her best.

      • michael

        Trent and the shade….too many clouds in that coffee. Good Girl Gone Bad, Loud, Talk that Talk are the best CD’s, then rated R and this Adult contemp boring mess. She’s a pop/rnb dance artist whose got no dance tracks but 1. GAG

    • the real xoxo

      “her best work to date”? “artistic integrity”? This isnt even as good as TTT. she had 0 writing credits on the entire album. this is arguably her worst album, no more than 3 decent tunes.

      • ksw

        “she had 0 writing credits on the entire album”… really???

        • the real xoxo

          yes i read the credits when it leaked and she had 0 credits. now there is a dodgy list of credits with her name on it

    • Poisonous

      I’m yet to listen to the album.. I’ll just get my copy.

    • IOTA

      It’s solid, but far from her best album.

    • FAB IT

      trent u re wrong for that one !!!!!!!!!! u make a point saying she showed some improvement with her vocals but overall that record isn t her best hell noooooo……….. RATED R>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    • mbasd

      i like the album. its a good effort. definitely an upgrade from flop that flop. i would put it up there with rated r, as her best work…
      side bar; no shade tho, i feel like unapologetic wud have been a great debut for rita ora. i can hear her singing this album. she definitely wud hav taken it up a notch… hopefully she gets something of this calibre for her sophomore

    • Well…

      Artistic integrity?? LOL. How is that so? Much less than writing, arranging or producing — she doesn’t even have any creativity vocally to reinterpret a song differently from the demo. She’s a puppet in the strictest sense of the word.

    • Unbothered

      I love this album. Unapologetic > Loud > Talk That Talk. My personal favorite song is Stay, though.

    • nolasfinest

      Rihanna put in a solid effort this time and I respect that. In all honesty, she could have put out a generic album, but she chose to put out quality music. It’s evident she puts her heart in everything she does and that’s why she will always win. As you know Trent, the best albums sometimes don’t reflect the sales in today’s market. However, with this album, I listened to it from beginning to end and I really liked it. She showed her “emotional side” something us Pisces rarely do. Rihanna also co-wrote on the album and WE KNOW she went through everything she sings about on UNAPOLOGETIC, that alone should put her at the top. I just wish (Pour it up, Get it over with, Love without Tragedy) were a bit longer, but she still knocked it out of the park. 4/5.

    • Anthony

      I like it. I LOVEEEE how the production and the background of geti t over with sounds…it sounds beautiful. I love nobody’s business, I wouldve loved it even more if he didnt beat her. lol I think that song had the potential to be a classic if they didnt have the history, or if 2 other people sung it, it would be amazing. I love what now, the song with future, and no love allowed. Mother mary gives me a real 80s feel. Strangely though, I dont know if anybody else feels this, no dance track jumps out to me like cockiness did when I first heard it. I fell out when I heard cockiness and Where have you been. I think talk that talk has better dance songs, but this defenitely has better ballads. Its not as much pop either. Overall I like this album better.

    • BlairWaldorf2013

      I need for people to REMEMBER who we are talking about…I think people like Rated R because it came right after the Chris Brown smackdown and people liked Loud because they could shake their assess to every song at the club. Unapologetic is her FIRST real offering of a complete transition from song to song. She starts off with the more club like tracks and you think you’re getting something OLD, yes she BORROWED a few covers, but then she serves you something NEW (at least for her) with storytelling about her real feelings about Chris, the media, and herself. Overall, I’d say well done to RiRi it’s not going to be everlasting in the greats of albums but it might be everlasting in the best of RiRi.

    • pineapple

      This review is 1000000% correct. I agree with every single word!! Excellent job Trent!!!

    • Diva

      This is one of her worst albums next to TTT

    • cajunbajan

      Another great review..Trent.
      I think Rated R might still be my fav album from her. Unapologetic shows some improvement all around. I still think shes lazy and she could really push herself more. My favourite tracks are :

      Phresh off the runway (sounds good in my car. lol)
      Jump
      What Now
      Stay
      Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary
      Lost In Paradise
      Half of Me

    • WonderLand19

      Loved the review. Was waiting to read it before i made my decision whether to buy the album.

      I’m buying my FIRST Rihanna album! Cant believe it myself.

      • Benron (King Of The Fucking Navy)

        CONGRATULATIONS! She is number one on itunes, so I know many people are buying.

    • Carmen

      I still feel that Rated R was the best album, but Unapologetic is a solid album overall

    • MC

      I agree with the ranking. Its not her worst album, but its def not her best. RR was much better.

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    • KC

      Most entertaining reviews I swear.

      You always give albums a 3 though lol

    • Benron (King Of The Fucking Navy)

      Rihanna is winning over everyone this year, she sold an estimated 82k in pre-orders (take this with a grain of salt, it was done by someone on twitter) and is now charting at #1 (deluxe) and #7 (regular) On U.S Itunes. I could mention chart position but lets not jinx anything.

      Very entertaining review Trent, I love your writing style its shady and hilarious Lol. I agree mostly but Get it over with is my mellow, chill, slow somber SONG! Great atricle!

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    • Jason

      This album is not horrible! But it’s not great either. I want dance tracks and pop love from RiRi…I could honestly careless about her vocal prowess! This album lacks the dance hits she known for! I honestly feel a sadness in this album the songs aren’t bad they just take me to a darker place that “loud” or “talk that talk”….but whatever #navybitch

    • the truth

      the funny thing is that all of u haters are wrong Rihanna has writing credit on all the songs besides “diamonds” and the dream had nothing to do with “phresh off the runway” David Guetta did the song lol

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    • Rated R shits all over this, as does Good Girl Gone Bad. This is a decent urban pop album. That is all.

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