Monday, November 26, 2012
Gimme A Rihfund - Unapologetic Album Review
Album number seven is a wildly uneven batch of soulless, disconnected tracks that - somewhat bizarrely given its lacklustre sales - picks up where Talk That Talk left off. The label is making a concerted effort to distance the 24-year-old from the commercial dance-pop that made her a superstar and reposition her as a gritty urban diva (albeit with enough electronica thrown in to keep radio happy). It's an uneasy fit. There are a couple of excellent tracks and some amazing production courtesy of the best knob-twiddlers in the game but even those gems are bogged down in tired filler and spoiled by the broard-foreheaded diva's increasingly unappealing attitude.
We get it. You're a bad bitch. But surely there's more to you than bragging about your tits and hits? I wish Rih would just realise that she's manufactured pop star and get on with churning out the generic floorfillers. Trying to cover up her shortcomings with increasingly pornographic photoshoots and invented scandals is becoming less convincing by the minute. Rihanna is less involved in her music career than Heidi Montag. She's just the puppet that Def Jam dusts off once a year to entertain basic bitches and ratchet gays. And we all know it - some of us just don't care.
Here is my track by track review of Unapologetic:
Presh Out The Runway - 1/10
"How could you be so hood but you're so fucking pop?" muses Riri in this pointless piece of noise pollution. Someone like Azealia Banks could have pulled this off. Rihanna just sounds like she's reading quips a cracked-out drag queen smeared on a napkin while doing lines with her in the club. The production is awful too. David Guetta and The-Dream sounds like an interesting combination on paper but it's absolutely painful in reality.
Diamonds - 5/10
I've already written about this Sia B-side at length, so I'll keep it short but I will admit that the song has grown on me. I think it's the Toto sample that holds my attention. Regardless, "Diamonds" is still a dreadful lead single that only got to number one on momentum and sheer marketing acumen. No one will remember this in 5 years.
Numb - 0/10
"Love The Way You Lie" is one of the greatest hip-hop/pop collaborations in recent memory. I feel every word of that song, so I was actually looking forward to Ms Fenty's reunion with Eminem. It turns out to be the album's lowlight. Download this shit if you want to hear the poor man's Shontelle say "numb" 30 times over a sterile beat.
Pour It Up - 2/10
Mike WiLL Made It is one of hip-hop's hottest producers. I loved 2 Chainz "No Lie" and Juicy J's "Bandz A Make Her Dance" but he really needs to stick to rap. The beats come thick and fast but there's no variety and Rihanna's endless bragging about her bumper bank account (thankfully) gets drowned out. It's an unsuccessful experiment but I'd take this over the generic Guetta tracks every single time.
Loveeeeeee Song - 5/10
Leave it to Future to get the album back on track. I love the production on this. It genre hops effortlessly and the random electric guitar is a great touch. Think of this as an updated version of Prince and Madonna's "Love Song" from 1989 - only with lots of talk about niggas and bitches. Again it sounds forced but this is a solid record.
Jump - 7/10
UK dance act Chase & Status take Rihanna on a dub-step adventure and collect some major scalps. This is an irresistible club record that proves the Barbadian diva is at her best when singing inane lyrics about burning up the dancefloor. The sample of Ginuwine's "Pony" is inspired and I love how mental the breakdowns are. For everyone's sake I hope this is a single.
Right Now - 0/10
Generic David Guetta-produced dance trash for the lowest common denominator of homosexual.
What Now - 7/10
The only thing I know about this producer is that he is responsible for Jessie J's "Do It Like A Dude". Which is a good thing because that song tricked me into thinking that heinous British bitch was the real deal. "What Now" is a towering, over-the-top electronic ballad that keeps on building and building to the point where it's kind of ridiculous but also rather amazing. Again, the production is great and I like Rih's vocal on this.
Stay - 8.5/10
Hats off to Rihanna's A&R team for stealing this gem from alt-pop maestro Mikky Ekko. No shade. They know a great song when they hear one. This pares things right back to basics for a semi-acoustic piano ballad that is actually rather gorgeous and, dare I say it, classy. It's inevitable that this will be released as a single and I won't even grumble when the pretty love song becomes her 217th number one hit. "Stay" is a quality and will hopefully be a powerful shot in the arm for Mikky's career.
Nobody's Business - 10/10
The star-crossed lovers gave everyone indigestion last year with their unfortunate "Birthday Cake" and I was really against Breezy lowering his standards to sing with Riri again but - to my great surprise - this is truly flawless. The-Dream's slinky, Michael Jackson-sampling production is a treat - I love the '90s vibe - and Chris' smooth vocal caresses your ears like a sex offender grabbing your butt on a crowded train. He really is the new King of pop. But the main reason I approve of "Nobody's Business" is the fact that it's genuine and sincere. I actually believe what Rihanna is singing for the one and only time on the album.
Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary - 1/10
Best leave the sprawling 7 minute pop songs to Frank Ocean. This tries so hard to be deep and meaningful but it's a bigger misfire than Battleship.
Get It Over With - 1/10
Brian Kennedy produced Jessica Mauboy's "Saturday Night" so you know this is going to be shit. A boring mid-tempo mess that goes absolutely nowhere.
No Love Allowed - 1/10
I usually like Rihanna's dancehall-flavoured grooves but "No Love Allowed" makes "Man Down" sound like "Pon De Replay". No ID sucks the life out of the Caribbean queen on this cure for insomnia. It's obvious that the label were trying to show their cash cow's versatility but it just comes across as calculated and played out. This is the worst kind of filler.
Lost In Paradise - 4/10
My friend Labrinth gets a production credit on this intriguing if somewhat unsuccessful dub-step excursion. I would love an instrumental of "Lost In Paradise". The music is great but Rihanna's vocal gets swallowed by the bone-marrow shaking beats. The end result is well-crafted but unconvincing and ultimately pointless. Much like this album.