Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Reviews - Rihana Rated R album (Holy Kaw)

< SINGAPORE : Rihanna's latest album "Rated R" reflects her current post-Chris Brown situation. For those who do not know, R&B singer Chris Brown used to be her main squeeze until he beat her on the way back from a pre-Grammy Awards party in February this year. Rihanna, 21, suffered visible injuries on her face and did not attend the awards show the next day.

Chris Brown, 20, was charged with assault and making criminal threats against Rihanna. He was sentenced to five years probation and 180 days of community labour, but the damage had been done.

Becoming a victim of domestic violence must have shaken Rihanna because "Rated R" is so much darker than Barbadian singer's other previous works like the playful "Girl like Me" in 2006 or the soulful "Good Girl Gone Bad" in 2007.

Most of the tracks in "Rated R" are about betrayal, anger and the pain love lost. They are often littered with violent imagery. Those are the only common elements her songs share.

In terms of style and execution, the songs are very different, possibly due to the diverse group of top talent that worked on them.

For example, the track "Cold Case Love" penned by Justin Timberlake invokes the sorrow of breaking up in the listener. Then the listener is suddenly brought back to the heyday of Gangsta Rap with the gunplay laden lyrics of "G4L" by Chase and Status, before being plunged into the world of a boastful superstar in "Hard" with rapper Young Jeezy. The transitions are simply too jarring.

The album sounds fine in terms of technique: Rihanna still shows off her strong vocals in the songs. It is just that the disparate tracks do not flesh out a solid identity for the album and makes it sound like Rihanna used this album as a form of therapy for her tumultuous relationship with Brown.

"Rated R" got a little too gloomy and rather messy for my taste. I suppose there is no real way of stopping a musician's personal life from spilling into their music.

Those who are fans will probably accept the different direction her music has taken but those who are not might want to check out her earlier works instead.


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