Last night, at roughly 7pm EST, the Internet was ignited into a frenzy by the “accidental” “leak” of Rihanna’s something-beyond-highly anticipated 8th studio album, ANTI.
Rihanna did not lock Sia in her basement chained to a studio board and writing pad to have y'all leak Anti. Disgusted.
— ب (@breevive) January 28, 2016
Though what was then believed to be the LP’s first single, FourFiveSeconds, dropped over a year earlier, the album release was set into motion late Tuesday night when RiRi dropped what she is now calling the album’s first single, “Work” – “Bitch Better Have My Money” be damned.
Despite Forbes being given what they believed to be the exclusive announcement (that the album was dropping last night at midnight for free), the entirety of the album was made available by Tidal hours earlier by “mistake.”
Naturally, ballistic fans took advantage of the error, ripping the audio and leaking it online shortly thereafter, thus forcing Tidal to in a more business-like way say “f*ck it” and release it prematurely.
The peanut gallery that is twitter were divided in their sentiments.
Some of y'all just need to take this L. Y'all thought Anti was gonna be trash, but Rih played y'all with her versatility. She won.
— Blanco Shabazz (@MolestMeRihanna) January 28, 2016
*ANTI is about the trash. https://t.co/OiMYl1TOWa
— Fruity Pebbles (@joshownsURface) January 28, 2016
A leak of an artists work – whether intentional or not – is problematic for cultural critics (both those employed as such and those who tweet as though they are) in that it gives the listener very little time to process, instead relying on quick judgments in an effort to move with the sweeping tide of the Internet.
Was “ANTI” worth the wait? Or did its fraught rollout hinder its place in the pantheon of the badgal’s best works to date, including “Umbrella,” “We Found Love” and “Diamonds”? That’s for you to decide. (And if you’re unsure, many many many many many will be happy to offer their opinion on the matter.)
But let’s focus on the album’s thundering dancehall, reggae-infused opener, “Consideration,” Rihanna’s third female duet in her career to date, and her first without an assist from her pal Nicki Minaj. (The Britney Spears-assisted “S&M” release was a remix, not an original track, while “Can’t Remember To Forget You” was a Rihanna feature on a Shakira track.)
Sonically similar to the opener of Jazmine Sullivan’s supremely underrated 2016 album Reality Show , the album establishes, from the jump, Rihanna’s awareness of her own tardiness from the party.
I come fluttering in from Neverland
Time could never stop me, no, no, no, no
I know you try to
Moments later, on the chorus, Rihanna again subverts her own narrative placing the blame on the greediness of expectation. Touché.
I got to do things
My own way darling
Will you ever let me?
Will you ever respect me? No
Do things my own way darling
You should just let me
Why you will never let me grow?
Enter neo soul singer-songwriter SZA for an assist on the Billie Holiday-esque chorus.
When I look outside my window
I can’t get no peace of mind
Consideration is about Rihanna not caring about what the media or people say, she's doing things her own way DARLING.
— King (@FATLINDNAVY) January 28, 2016
Rihanna Feat. SZA – Consideration pic.twitter.com/tWDPYHRA63
— alisso (@fabulousoa) January 28, 2016
— #totalradness (@HANNAHRAD) January 28, 2016
“Consideration” leads way into 12 other brand new tracks, none of which feature planned collaborations with Kanye, Sia, Calvin Harris, Tinashe and NeYo.
So is Ri happy with this tidalwave (#reference) of attention heaped on the album? Twitter (where else?) indicates yes.
You guys legit made me the happiest girl in the world!! I'm so grateful that you appreciate the #ANTI album! It's the most rewarding feeling
— Rihanna (@rihanna) January 28, 2016
“ANTI” is available exclusively (?) on Tidal.