Everyone knows a new Rihanna album is in the works. We just don’t know when it’s dropping.
Earlier this year, rumors began circulating a top tier artist was in the process of planning an unannounced album release, similar to Beyonce’s monstrous self-titled project last December. Would it be Adele, whose follow-up to 2011’s 21 remains legitimately one of the most anticipated albums since the turn of the century? Was it Lil Wayne, who had hinted of Tha Carter V’s existence off and on for years? Or in a long shot, was Jay Electronica or Andre 3000, perhaps music’s equivalents to Halley’s Comet?
Come next month, two years will have passed since Rihanna’s last studio album, Unapologetic in 2012. Why is this noteworthy? Before her current sabbatical, Rih-Rih was known as one of the world’s most prolific musicians (and still is), releasing a project every year since 2005 sans 2008. Six of those seven albums have gone platinum, including 21 platinum singles.
Couple in those figures along with being one half of a controversy that should go down as a defining scandal of her generation, and why Rihanna remains one of the world’s most recognizable public figures is more basic math than it is advanced algebra.
For nearly the past 24 months, Rihanna earned three Billboard Music Awards, two Grammys, been named a Fasion Icon, smoked enough weed to piss test positive for the next seven presidential elections, kicked it at the World Cup, learned to Shmoney Dance, took an awkward photo with Chris Brown at a celebrity basketball game, toured with Eminem and – while this has yet to be verified – OD’d on PornHub’s Latina category on 37 different occasions.
In other words, she’s living a regular life of an internationally famous uber-millionaire 20-something-year-old until she and Drake have a kid four years from now named Garden.
An alleged track list featuring names like Nicki Minaj, Eminem, Big Sean and Drake emerged online this week. The authenticity has yet to be confirmed, despite how legit it appears on first, second and third glance. However, Tor Erik of Stargate, a longtime producer of Rihanna’s, spoke with VIBE in May, revealing the new album would be defined by evolution regardless what songs and collaborations made the final cut.
“She has grown as a vocalist. So now when she sings a song she enhances it immensely,” Erik noted.
In the event the track list proves accurate, Rihanna racing to platinum before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve remains unlikely (unless an innovative, state-of-the-art marketing initiative is in the works). The pride and joy of Barbados never championed her career on outrageous first week sales, leaving 2014’s platinum-less year in jeopardy.
Rather, her M.O. has traditionally been a stream of steady, unavoidable radio play mixed with four or five singles, many of which abstain from showing much outside of an aggressive and/or club-directed approach.
“I think a lot of people have a misperception [sic] of me. They only see through the tough, defensive side, aggressive side. But every woman is vulnerable. So of course I am going to have that side…I just don’t like people to see me cry,” she once told Interview Magazine.
Unless those same people have made a concerted effort to keep up with her, they haven’t witnessed much musically. And perhaps that’s by design. Another year could realistically pass without new music from Robyn and the #RihannaNavy — the most powerful Internet terrorist group this side of the Beyonce’s carnivorous legion of e-wolves, otherwise known as “The Beygency” — would still ask “how high?” every time the thought about saying “jump” crossed her mind. She’s an international pop star with a resume to prove it. Delirious fans become part of the package after a certain threshold.
But those not in favor of Rihanna’s music or Rihanna in general, bask in the glory of silence while it resides. An album is on the horizon soon cometh. A bold prediction says before the year ends. But whenever the album reportedly entitled R8 does crash land, be prepared.
Silence is golden. But in Rihanna’s case, loud, rebellious and infectious noise usually results in platinum.