I lick the gun when I’m done because you know that revenge is sweet…
Before Good Girl Gone Bad was released, Rihanna mentioned in an interview that she wanted to make an edgier rock album. After that album’s smash success, she became an international superstar faster than you can say, “ella, ella, ey.” She was dating a boy wonder, and it seemed like the perfect pop star fairy tale. But the fairy tale came crashing down, and all eyes were on Rihanna’s next move. Unfortunate events can shoot stars into another stratosphere, and at 20, Rihanna became one of the hugest stars on the planet. Months later, Rihanna has emerged with the aggressive and brutally frank Rated R, and she wants you to know that she’s no victim.
From the intro song “Mad House,” it sounds like Rihanna is steeling herself with armor for her tough transformation, like the Bride of Frankenstein coming to life. Young Jeezy joins her for “Hard,” which will soon be the new ladies’ anthem. The queen of catchy phrases, “yup, you know this” is infectious and you can’t help but sing along. “Rockstar 101” is a sexy rock-tinged track with a guest appearance from Slash of Guns’ N Roses. She’s the self-proclaimed rock girl, all she’s missing is her “black guitar.”
On the ballads, although maintaining her tough stance, it’s clear that there is hurt behind the mask. On “Stupid In Love,” she refers to her famous friend:” Even though Katy told me that this would be nothing but a waste of time.” It’s that moment in every breakup when you just have to let go of someone who’s not good for you. “Fire Bomb” has a Journey “Don’t Stop Believing” feel, where she wants her love to feel the pain she felt: “I just want to set you on fire so I won’t have to burn alone.” Along with fire and explosions, Rihanna has a new affinity for gun play, from the gunshot that closes “Russian Roulette,” to the gun references in “G4L.” Anyone who has done her wrong should stay far far away.
The album has radio friendly dance tracks, with the sexy “Rude Boy.” She joined forces with Will.I.Am on the hypnotizing “Photographs,” a hit in the making. “Te Amo” is an island-tinged with flamenco hand claps, that may suggest Rihanna Fenty is still somewhere inside all the layers of armor.
The album wraps up with the introspective, “Cold Case Love,” where she closes the door for good: “My heart’s no longer cold and confined. I’ve had enough.” On “The Last Song,” she says her final goodbye. Beneath it all, when stripped of the makeup, the shades, and the leather, there is a young girl just trying to figure it all out. And she does not want your pity.
Rated R stands for racy, rough, retro, rocked out, and at times, razor sharp. Above all, it’s unapologetically Rihanna.