Bajan pop princess Rihanna has achieved the unthinkable. 2013 was the first year in her musical trajectory that she hasn’t released an album or at least a re-issue.
After the promotion of her seventh LP “Unapologetic“, released in November 2012, it was expected that the artist released her eighth LP in 2014, but she decided to extend the Unapologetic promotion releasing “What Now” as her latest single from that era.
Incredible but true, Rihanna takes three years without having released a new album. But it’s finally happening. Her eighth studio album called “ANTi was released by surprise on 28 January 2016 in partnership with Samsung via her new label imprint Westbury Road Records.
The Kanye West-inspired artwork was revealed exclusively in Los Angeles’ Mama Gallery, and it’s a creation by Roy Nachum, an Israeli artist living in New York. The cover features an image of a young Rihanna holding a black balloon, with a gold crown covering her eyes. Over the red-and-white canvas cover, a poem written by Chloe Mitchell is written in braille. Rihanna said: “Sometimes the ones who have sight are the blindest“.
In early January 2014, one of the producers of the new album, American DJ Mustard confirmed that the singer prepared a new single and that’s a ‘big urban club hit’. But in the end nothing happened.
Rihanna also worked with Kuk Harell and Chase & Status in this project. Hitmaker Kiesza, Calvin Harris and Tinashe also confirmed that they have written songs for the artist, but they don’t know if the tracks eventually become part of the final tracklist. American singer-songwriter Ne-Yo also said that this new album would be great, but could not give further details.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, Rihanna returned to social media life. Her Instagram account was reactivated, she featured in several magazines cover and especially sang three of her latest hits on stage during this year’s “The Concert For Valor – Saluting American’s Veterans”. Some indicators that encourage the idea that something new came, but finally nothing happened.
Rihanna did an unexpected fan encounter in Paris on December 18th. The “special event” called “The R8 Experience” was filmed by Jeff Nicholas and for now, is not confirmed the reason for this recording. She said on Instagram:
ran off set of an editorial shoot, straight into the arms of my fans… thank you french navy #r8
The lead single from the album “FourFiveSeconds“, an acoustic-folk track with the collaboration of Paul McCartney and Kanye West, arrived by surprise on digital retailers on 24 January 2015.
During an interview with MTV, American hip-hop recording artist and OVO Sound-signed rising star ILOVEMAKONNEN confirmed that he also worked with the pop princess.
Rihanna created more hype after sharing some new material on Instagram early March 2015, including new tracks called “Higher” and “American Oxygen“, which was featured on NCAA March Madness commerical and premiered exclusively through TIDAL on Sunday 5 April 2015.
During an interview with MTV to promote her movie HOME, Rihanna was finally opened about her new album. She said:
I wanted songs that I could perform in 15 years; I wanted an album that I could perform in 15 years. Not any songs that were burnt out. I find that when I get on stage now, I don’t want to perform a lot of my songs. They don’t feel like me. So I want to make songs that are timeless
On 23 March, Rihanna shared a new photo on Instagram with American rapper Travi$ Scott with the tag #R8, confirming a possible collaboration on the way.
The second official single “Bitch Better Have My Money“, was released on digital retailers on 26 March 2015. Right after, during iHeart Radio Awards, American producer Rey Reel confirmed she worked with Rihanna in a new “crazy” song co-written with Candace Wakefield.
A snippet of another new track “Only If For a Night” (finally re-named as “Goodnight Gotham“) produced by Midas, sampling Florence + The Machine’s song with the same name, was exclusively premiered and included on Dior 2015 FW “Secret Garden” campaign directed by Steven Klein. The song is confirmed as the opening track of the album, which was expected to be released in May, but it was finally canceled.
To celebrate 4/20, Rihanna shared a new track called “James Joint“, which was confirmed as an interlude included on the album.
During an ASCAP event, “Bitch Better Have My Money” producer Deputy explained that he has worked with the singer and he also confirmed upcoming duet with J. Cole. English singer-songwriter Charli XCX confirmed in an interview with The Mirror that she also worked in some tracks with Rihanna.
During iHeartRadio music festival in Last Vegas, BreatheHeavy interviewed American singer-songwriter and hitmaker Priscilla Renea who confirmed that she worked in the studio with RiRi. She said:
I have worked on Rihanna’s record. I don’t know that any of it’s gonna stay. She said herself she doesn’t really know what she’s looking for. Once she finds it I’m sure she’ll know and if I’m one those things that she happens to love then that’ll be great. Another hit on my discography
On November 3rd, some indicators suggest that Roc Nation may be laying the groundwork to push the release of her new album to 2016, but eventually were false alarms.
Apparently, having canceled her performance at Victoria’s Secret Fashion show, it was only a move to focus all her attention on the impending album promotion.
The campaign “ANTidiaRy“, directed by Yoann Lemoine, was started by surprise on November 19th as an official countdown before the arrival of the album. It’s a game about 8 stages you need to unlock and find some clues before arriving to the end which connect with the album’s release exclusively on TIDAL.
On November 23rd, Rihanna announced ANTi World Tour which is expected to begin in February 2016 with guest artist like Travi$ Scott (North America) and DJ Mustard + Big Sean (Europe).
The song “Work“ with the collaboration of Drake, was released as the fourth overall and proper lead single from the album on January 27th.
Unfortunately the full album surfaced online after being posted by mistake on TIDAL a few hours after the premiere of “Work“.
The song “Same Ol’ Mistakes“, is a cover of Tame Impala’s track “New Person Same Ol’ Mistakes“, included on their recent album “Currents“, released in 2015.
“Kiss It Better” and “Needed Me” were released as a double A-Side / second official single from the album on March 30th. A video for the deluxe bonus “Goodnight Gotham” was released through Vevo on July 30th. It was directed by Philip Adelman and The Uprising Creative.