Anti (album)

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Anti
Rihanna - Anti.png
Studio album by Rihanna
Released January 28, 2016 (2016-01-28)
Recorded 2014–2016[1]
Studio
Genre
Length 43:36
Label
Producer
Rihanna chronology
Unapologetic
(2012)
Anti
(2016)
Singles from Anti
  1. "Work"
    Released: January 27, 2016
  2. "Kiss It Better"
    Released: March 30, 2016
  3. "Needed Me"
    Released: March 30, 2016
  4. "Love on the Brain"
    Released: September 27, 2016

Anti is the eighth studio album by Barbadian singer Rihanna. It was released on January 28, 2016, through Westbury Road and Roc Nation. The singer began planning the record in 2014, at which time she left her previous label Def Jam and joined Roc Nation. Work continued into 2015, during which she released three singles including "FourFiveSeconds", which reached the top 10 in several markets; they were ultimately removed from the final track listing. Anti was made available for free digital download on January 28 through Tidal and was released to online music stores for paid purchase on January 29.

As executive producer, Rihanna contributed to most of the album's lyrics and collaborated with producers including Jeff Bhasker, Boi-1da, DJ Mustard, Hit-Boy, Brian Kennedy, Timbaland and No I.D. to achieve her desired sound. The efforts resulted in a departure from Rihanna's previous dance and club music genres and created a primarily pop and R&B album, with elements of dancehall and soul. The producers incorporated dark, sparsely layered, minimalist song structures, with most of Anti's lyrics dealing with the complexities of romantic love and self-assurance.

The album was released to positive reviews from music critics and numerous publications included it on their lists of the best albums of 2016. It peaked at number one on the US Billboard 200, moving 166,000 equivalent-album units (124,000 of which were pure sales) in its first full-tracking week, and after two days of its release was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) as a result of Samsung purchasing one million copies of the album in advance that were then given away as a free download. It was promoted with four singles, including the single "Work", featuring Canadian rapper Drake, which peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 becoming Rihanna's fourteenth number one song on the chart. To further promote the album, Rihanna embarked on the Anti World Tour in 2016.

Background[edit]

Following the release of Rihanna's seventh studio album, Unapologetic (2012) and it's accompanying tour the singer decided to take a step back from music.[2] After the release of Unapologetic and its accompanying tour, Rihanna aimed to take a hiatus from recording music stating; "I wanted to have a year to just do whatever I want artistically, creatively," Rihanna went on to state that this hiatus lasted a week and she had returned to the studio. During the initial writing and development of the album, Rihanna recording a vast amount of songs that were up-tempo, but was unsure of what she wanted Anti to sound like. Following the albums initially recording Rihanna became bored with pop music stating that she gravitated towards music that was "honest" and represented her at that time. Rihanna also recognised that the music she was recording "might not be some automatic record that will be Top 40," but believes she had "earned the right to do that now."[3]

Rihanna faced challenges during the initial recording and creative process of the album. Rihanna wanted to create a body of work that reflected and represented her at that time, however Rihanna stated "I was evolving in the midst of making a body of art that was supposed to reflect who I was in that moment, yet it was the very answer I didn't have!" Rihanna continued to describe herself as being disconnected from her emotions and "numb" during the albums conception however Rihanna stuck to the albums recording until she "felt something again!" Following Rihanna's creative struggle she rented a house in Malibu over a couple of months and created music in every room, with her team and various musicians. During this time one of the albums producers made a comment which effected Rihanna, it was during this moment that Rihanna broke her creative block stating "I trusted myself, trusted my ear, trusted my gut, trusted the way that my music made me FEEL!!"[4]

In May 2014, it was announced that Rihanna had left Def Jam to sign fully with her manager Jay Z's company Roc Nation, and later revealed she had acquired the masters to all her recordings and would be releasing her eighth studio album jointly through her own record label Westbury Road and Roc Nation.[5][6] On February 8, 2015, during his Grammy Awards red carpet interview, Kanye West announced, that he will be the executive producer of Anti.[7] West further compared Rihanna's vocals on the song to that of Scottish singer Annie Lennox: "I feel like she has this type of energy in her vocals. And she even brought it to another level of like soul and heart and artistry".[8] However, in January 2016, in a Twitter reply message to a fan, Rihanna wrote that West is no longer executive producer of the album and both of them are working on different projects.[9] Instead, Rihanna served as the executive producer of Anti and worked with several producers.[10]

Writing and recording[edit]

The album's sessions took place at numerous recording studios including, the Jungle City Studios in New York City, Westlake Recording Studios, Sandra Gale Studios and Windmark Recording Studios in Los Angeles, SOTA Studios in Toronto and Twin Studios in Paris.[10] Most of the songs were recorded at the Westlake Recording Studios.[10] Songwriter Bibi Bourelly had been working with producer, Paperboy Fabe, who arranged a session with Kanye West. The result was the song, "Higher". Later, Rihanna and James Fauntleroy also contributed to the song writing. "Higher" was recorded in the early morning hours while Rihanna was under the influence of alcohol; "We just said, ‘You know what? Let's just drink some whiskey and record this song."[11] The song was described by Rihanna as a "a drunk voice mail".[3] Rihanna and Fauntleroy also collaborated on three other songs – "Desperado", "Close to You" and "James Joint". The latter was written with Rihanna and Shea Taylor, who wrote the song in less than 30 minutes, while "Close To You" was written after producer Brian Kennedy sent Fauntleroy a piano music sample.[12]

"Desperado" was written by Mick Shultz and Rook Monroe. After visiting Rihanna's home, Shultz was contacted a week later by the singer's team who stated "she really loves the record". Rihanna, Fauntleroy and Kuk Harrell, were all later involved in the songs development, production and recording.[13] In the summer of 2015, songwriter and producer Rupert Thomas together with Allen Ritter and Boi-1da among others, stayed at Canadian rapper's Drake house in Los Angeles for several days. During the time, the lead single, "Work" was conceived.[14] Thomas created the beat and played it for Boi-1da to which he positively responded. Boi-1da came with up idea for sampling an "old school dancehall rhythm" and after that the chords were made.[14] When the song's music was finished, Boi-1da sent it to PartyNextDoor who wrote the lyrics.

The Jungle City Studios in New York City served as one of the various recording locations.

Two songs each were recorded at Jungle City Studios in New York City and Windmark Recording Studios in Los Angeles.[10] The studio sessions at Jungle City produced the opening track "Consideration" and "Kiss It Better". Rihanna stated that when recording "Consideration", she felt a connection to it, stating that the song captured the sound and attitude she was aiming for.[3] The recording sessions at Windmark Recording Studios produced the songs "Never Ending" and "Love on the Brain". The former was written by Chad Sabo during his time in California, where Sabo was playing with the band Basic Vacation. Sabo was in the band's van and began to write the intro riff that would become "Never Ending". Shortly after he took the song home and attempted to bring the song together using a digital 8-track studio. He later worked on the songs lyrics and posted it onto the internet. The writing process of "Never Ending" began in November 2013, and started again in April 2014 at which time Rihanna became interested in the track and wanted to record it.[15]

Only one song was recorded outside of the United States – "Same Ol' Mistakes" – the track was recorded at the Twin Studios in Paris[10] Rihanna's team contacted Tame Impala's management and informed them that Rihanna loved the band's song "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" and asked if she could re-record the track for Anti. The song's writer, Kevin Parker, agreed and gave Rihanna permission to record the song. After hearing Rihanna's version, Parker stated, "We're all really happy with how the song turned out, love it!".[16]

Vocal production[edit]

American vocal producer Kuk Harrell did the complete vocal production on Anti.

American vocal producer Kuk Harrell, who has been working with Rihanna since 2007 stated that for Anti Rihanna was creatively more involved in the making process. Harrell stated that Rihanna aimed to push the album in the direction she envisioned. The producer stated that he attempted to move away from mainstream pop music when producing the album's vocals, "Every record that everybody does is a record that somebody else could've done, if that makes sense. It's so awesome that she just stepped out and was courageous enough to stick to that and be that and do that."[17]

Harrell noted that with the production of Anti Rihanna was far more meticulous about what she wanted each individual line to sound like. He stated that he attempted to work quickly when producing the album, however Rihanna wanted to constantly improve the album's quality stating "Listen, let's up the quality level. Let's make sure we have the emotion, and make sure it's a masterpiece." Harrell stated that when he and Rihanna had previously worked together they aimed to make a great body of work, however on Anti they aimed to create a "masterpiece".[17] When discussing his and Rihanna's mindset during the album's production Harrell stated:

Rihanna album [Anti], because it is such a body of work. The whole mind-set. The records that stick out for me the most are when we went into it thinking, "Let's just do great work. Let's not chase radio. We're not trying to get radio hits. We're not trying to make sure that we can have a song that anybody could sing." So that's what Anti is. Let's just do good work, because we love doing what we do, and we get to make music to it.[17]

Speaking of the album's production and style, Harrell stated that artists such as Rihanna have been talking a stance and stepping away from the popular music of the time and the expectations of her label, directors and radio, stating, "I don't want to make what everybody else is making. I want to make what I want to make. I know my fans will love it because my fans are loyal to me, but if everybody else loves it, great. If they don't, at least I know, as an artist, I've done what I want to do."[17] Anti was engineered by Nathaniel Alford, Chris Godbey, Kuk Harrell, Blake Mares, Daniela Rivera and Marcos Tovar. The album was finally mastered by Chris Gehringer at Sterling Sound, in New York City.[10]

Composition[edit]

"I've made a lot of songs that are really, really big songs. From the jump, they just blow up. And I wanted to kind of get back to -- not that they weren't real music, but I just wanted to focus on things that felt real, that felt soulful, that felt forever. I wanted songs that I could perform in 15 years; I wanted an album that I could perform in 15 years. So I want to make songs that are timeless."

 — Rihanna discussing the albums musical direction[18]

Anti is a departure from Rihanna's previous material, leaving behind the club and dance genres of her previous releases for a predominantly pop and R&B[19][20] album with elements of dancehall and soul. The album's production has been characterized as being, dark, sparsely layered,[21] bouncy, with lo-fi bass, old school styles,[22] downtempo moodiness and electro-soul minimalism.[23] Lindsay Zoladz of Vulture believed that "to neatly classify Anti by genre, you'd have to invent one," which she described as being "industrial dancehall".[24] Ben Rayner of The Toronto Star stated that Anti is divided into two halves; the first consisting of "futuristic robo-R&B", whilst the second half contains "a more organic breed of soul".[23]

The album's lyrical content predominantly touches upon themes of relationships, exploring what it means to be in love, to get hurt, to need someone, and to be true to yourself.[21] The theme of relationships is picked up in numerous songs; "Kiss It Better" sees Rihanna questioning how far an ex-lover will go to get her back; in "Woo", Rihanna turns spiteful, stating she does not care for her ex-partner, while "Never Ending" features Rihanna admitting she would like to be in love again.[21] The album's themes were also noted as being unapologetic, with an uncaring attitude, and self-assurance.[22] During the album's recording Rihanna aimed to create an album that was both "soulful" and "aggressive", elaborating on this she stated that the aggressive and soulful themes would be heard in the musical, lyrical and vocal context.[25]

Anti opens with "Consideration", a dub-inspired song. The song contains a "glitchy" production and features guest vocals from singer-songwriter SZA.[26] Neil McCormick of The Telegraph, thought that on the song Rihanna is turning her back on record labels and their expectations, in the line "I got to do things my own way darling".[27] "James Joint" is a neo-soul song that contains "keyboards built over rising bass riffs that create a thickly textured groove." The song was compared to the work of Stevie Wonder, due to the use of a harmonica.[28] "Kiss It Better" is a pop power ballad inspired by the music of a '80s and '90s.[26] Built over deep synths the track features an electric guitar and lyrics that focus on a destructive relationship that the singer knows is wrong for her, but one she finds irresistible.[29][30] "Work", which features Canadian rapper Drake, is a reggae-pop song[31] with a percolating beat, sinuous synth lines, and vocal samples stretched and pulled in a way that recalls Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis's production work on Janet Jackson's 1997 album The Velvet Rope."[32] "Desperado" contains a "mid-tempo groove, bell ringing and shuddering drums, along with deep synths and vocal samples."[29]

"Same Ol' Mistakes" is a cover version of "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" (2015) performed by Tame Impala, written by Kevin Parker.

The sixth track "Woo" opens with "two jarring, atonal guitar chords repeated along with small, trap-influenced percussion, over a basic riff."[30] It was compared to the work of Kanye West due to its slow stomping, distortion and lack of melody and groove.[29] "Needed Me" is a downtempo song, with small elements of electro bubble, synthetic sounds, and a loose, casual vocal that discusses romantic rejection, while the following song "Yeah, I Said It" continues the trend of containing a slowed down groove.[29] "Same Ol' Mistakes" is a cover version of "New Person, Same Old Mistakes" (2015) performed by Tame Impala. The song contains the same production as the original, featuring a "fluid sound, with elements of psychedelic, hip-hop and pop-rock genres, along with a slow, dreamy, psychedelic synth groove."[29] "Never Ending" is a guitar-led song, with elements of country music, organic melodies and backing vocals.[33]

"Love on the Brain" is a mid-tempo '50s inspired doo-wop ballad "that features a guitar arpeggio, swirling organ, simple chord progression and backing vocals".[29][30] Rihanna's vocals on the track were noted as being acrobatic and ranging from her "trademark snarl", to high notes, with dark lyrics that depict a destructive, yet addictive relationship.[30][33] "Higher" is a love song that has a woozy production that contains lyrics about Rihanna's feelings towards her lover whilst she is under the influence of drugs and alcohol.[29] "Close to You" is a slow piano ballad, which is sung in a jazz style.[29] The deluxe version of Anti contains three more songs. The first is "Goodnight Gotham", which contains an interpolation of "Only If for a Night" (2011) performed by Florence and the Machine and hears Rihanna singing along with the "looping" sample.[34] The following track "Pose" features a grimy beat, along with the singer aggressively boasting about her riches.[34] "Sex with Me", contains dreamy production which hears Rihanna talking about her beauty, "before closing with a trippy blend of vocals."[34]

Title and packaging[edit]

"I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood.
It is simply because what I want to say,
what I need to say, won't be heard.
Heard in a way I so rightfully deserve.
What I choose to say is of so much substance
That people just won't understand the depth of my message.
So my voice is not my weakness,
It is the opposite of what others are afraid of.
My voice is my suit and armor,
My shield, and all that I am.
I will comfortably breath in it, until I find the moment to be silent.
I live loudly in my mind, so many hours of the day.
The world is pin drop sound compared to the boom
That thumps and bumps against the walls of my cranium.
I live it and love it and despise it and I am entrapped in it.
So being misunderstood, I am not offended by the gesture, but honored.
If they let us..."

A reading of the album's artwork poem If They Let Us.[35]

On October 7, 2015, Rihanna held a private viewing for fans and press at Los Angeles' MAMA Gallery, where she debuted the album's official artwork and title. Initially thought to have been entitled R8 by fans and critics alike, Rihanna announced the official title during the album's cover art release, revealing the album would be called ANTI, the exhibition included a piece of art which defined the album's title stating that anti is "a person opposed to a particular policy, activity or idea."[36] Following the exhibition, Rihanna took to social media to confirm the album's title along with an explanation of its meaning. The explanation stated, "By continuing to follow her own instincts, her work strives to make an impact by doing the very antithesis of what the public expects."[37]

The artwork was designed by Israeli artist Roy Nachum, and was described by Rihanna as her "favorite album cover".[38] The album's front cover shows an image of Rihanna, which was taken on her first day of day care,[39] holding a black balloon, with a gold crown covering her eyes; the majority of the artwork is black and white with a "smattering" of red paint.[38] Speaking about the cover art's concept, Nachum stated that he painted a young Rihanna to represent her "bringing something new" to music.[40]

Over the red, black and white canvas there is a poem written in Braille by poet Chloe Mitchell; the braille follows the theme of the album's singles artwork which also features the same technique. Speaking on her choice to use the language, Rihanna commented, "Sometimes the ones who have sight are the blindest."[38] During the cover's designing stage, Rihanna met with Mitchell, in which they "drank" and came up with a poem that would be used for the artwork and liner notes entitled If They Let Us.[35] Mitchell explained the poem and its meaning to Rolling Stone magazine, stating it was about being misunderstood, but still be able to stand out while doing what is right for you. She further said that the poem speaks about not conforming to society and being a leader as well as accepting that being misunderstood is a positive thing.[40]

At the gallery, the album's back cover, along with multiple inside album artworks were revealed. The album's back cover features the same image this time from behind.[41] The seven pieces of artwork were all named and featured a poem written by Mitchell or Nachum, the front and back covers were titled "If They Let Us Part I" and "If They Let Us Part II" and featured a poem that was split over the front and back, another piece entitled "If They Let Us" was commissioned and featured the full reading of the poem.[42] The inside booklet contains a further five pieces entitled "Fire Part I", "Fire Part II", "Fire Part III" and "R".[42] Billboard ranked the artwork as one of the best covers of the albums released in 2016 and wrote, "What's black and white and red all over? One of the most intoxicating albums of any genre in 2016, with an equally indelible lead image to match."[43]

Release and promotion[edit]

In November 2014, Rihanna announced, that her album should come out "very soon".[44] "FourFiveSeconds", featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney, was released on January 24, 2015.[45] Two months later she released "Bitch Better Have My Money", performing it for the first time at the 2nd iHeartRadio Music Awards on March 29, 2015.[46] Another song entitled "American Oxygen" debuted on Tidal on April 5, 2015.[47][48] Rihanna also posted an interlude entitled "James Joint" in its entirety from the upcoming album on her website on April 21, 2015, as a "celebration of 420".[49] In October 2015, it was revealed that Rihanna had acquired the masters to all her recordings and would be releasing Anti jointly through her own record label Westbury Road and Roc Nation.[6]

In November 2015, it was announced that Rihanna had signed a $25 million contract with Samsung to not only promote Samsung's Galaxy line of products, but to also sponsor the release of Anti and its supporting tour.[50] On November 19, 2015, Rihanna and Samsung released a 16-second cryptic video for Anti, launching a website for Rihanna's forthcoming album entitled "ANTIdiaRy". Upon launch, the mobile-only site gave messages, such as "She's waiting for you. Are you in?" and "Be patient and keep your eyes open".[51] The website then proceeded to launch eight "rooms" over the following 9 weeks, each loosely corresponding to her previous albums, detailing her personal life over the course of her career and including clues from Anti.[52] In the same month, she canceled her performance at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show to finish work on Anti.[53]

The Anti World Tour was announced on November 23, 2015.[54] The Samsung-sponsored tour started in March 2016 and ended in November 2016,with Travis Scott supporting in North America, and Big Sean supporting at selected European dates.[50][55] The album leaked onto the internet in its entirety on January 27, 2016, after it was released prematurely on music streaming service Tidal.[56] Anti was exclusive to Tidal for its first full week of availability.[57] Also through Tidal, the album was made available for free download, regardless of whether a listener is a Tidal subscriber or not.[57][58]

Singles[edit]

The lead single "Work" featuring Canadian rapper Drake was released on January 27, 2016, hours before the Tidal release of Anti. Rihanna stated on Twitter that the song is the "first single" from her album.[59] "Work" debuted at number nine on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart. It became Rihanna's 27th top ten hit. With this feat, Rihanna tied Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson and Elton John as the artists with fifth-most top ten songs on the chart.[60] The singer reached 27 top ten singles on the Hot 100 in a span of 10 years and eight months between her first song, "Pon de Replay" and "Work" and became the fastest solo artist to reach the plateau.[61] In its fourth week, "Work" peaked at number one on the Hot 100 chart and became Rihanna's fourteenth number-one song in the United States and the 1,052nd number-one single on the chart overall. Subsequently, she became the artist with the third-most number-one songs on the chart following The Beatles with 20 and Carey with 18. She broke a tie with Michael Jackson, who had reached 13 chart-toppers on the Billboard Hot 100.[62]

On March 29, 2016, Rihanna announced that "Kiss It Better" and "Needed Me" would both be serviced to radio the following day as the album's second and third singles.[63] "Kiss It Better" was a moderate success charting at the lower end of the US Billboard Hot 100, initially released as the promotional focus at pop radio, "Kiss It Better" reached as far as number twenty-four on the Pop Songs chart, leading Def Jam Recordings to release "Needed Me"—an initially "urban radio priority"—to pop radio as well, due to its success.[64] "Needed Me" saw far greater success becoming Rihanna's 29th top ten single on the Hot 100, making her the artist with the third most amount of top tens in Billboard history.[65] It notably became her longest charting Hot 100 hit, surpassing the 41-week run of We Found Love.[66]

On August 21, 2016, Rihanna announced via her Instagram account that "Love on the Brain" will be the next single.[citation needed] Prior to being announced as a single, "Love on the Brain" debuted on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs at number 30 and charted on the Billboard Hot 100, debuting at number 83.[67] After being released as a single, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 chart at number 80.[68] The song peaked at number five, becoming the third top ten single from Anti, as well as her twenty-second top five hit.[69]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Anti received a platinum certification by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) two days after its release as a result of Samsung purchasing one million copies of the album in advance that were then given away as a free download, part of the $25 million deal signed by Rihanna in 2015.[70] The album debuted at number 27 on the Billboard 200 on February 1, 2016.[71] Although over 1.4 million copies were downloaded from Tidal, Billboard and Nielsen Music did not recognize the count of the sales, because they were distributed by Samsung.[72] According to Nielsen's figures,[citation needed] 460 is the number of actual albums sold in the United States,[73] but the album had 4.7 million streams and 126,000 sales of individual tracks, making a total of 15,896 album-equivalent units.[73][74] The low actual album sales represented only 20 minutes of sales after the free giveaway period ended.[75] The next week, Anti topped the chart with 166,000 equivalent album units, 124,000 of which were pure sales. The record scored the biggest jump on the Billboard 200 chart in eight years and also became Rihanna's second number one and the eighth top ten album on it. Subsequently, it also debuted at number one on the US R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.[76]

Seven weeks following the release of Anti, the album had been streamed over 275 million times on music platform Spotify only and sold over 279,000 copies in the United States. Patrick Ryan of USA Today found the sales "impressive", considering the one million copies Rihanna gave away through the Samsung deal and the album being only available for streaming on Tidal in its first week. According to the Yahoo Music managing editor Lyndsey Parker, the reception of the release, "speaks a lot to the loyalty and patience of her fans. It also speaks to her savviness in marketing herself."[77] For the week dated April 2, Anti re-peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 chart while its lead single, "Work" topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart at the same time. It became Rihanna's second time to have a number-one single and album at the same time; Unapologetic together with the lead single, "Diamonds" topped the charts for the issue dating December 8, 2012.[78] On May 5, Anti was certified double platinum by the RIAA, becoming the first multi-platinum album of 2016.[79] Anti was the third most-streamed album of 2016, while Rihanna was listed as the most-streamed female artist of the year.[80] As of January 2017, the album has sold over 603,000 recognized copies in the United States and moved over 1,966,000 equivalent album units, not including the 1,000,000 given away.[81]

Anti debuted at number 19 on the Canadian Albums Chart. The following week, it topped the chart and became Rihanna's fifth number one album in Canada, following A Girl like Me in 2006, Good Girl Gone Bad in 2007, Loud in 2010 and Unapologetic in 2012.[82] It was certified gold by Music Canada, denoting shipments of over 40,000 copies in the country.[83] Anti debuted at number one on the UK Album Downloads Chart and UK R&B Album Chart, whilst debuting at number 7 on the UK Albums Chart. Anti was certified gold by the BPI in May 2016, denoting shipments of over 200,000 copies in the country.[84] It became the 32nd best-selling album of 2016 and third most-streamed album (as well as most-streamed female album) of the year on Spotify in the UK.[85]

The album has also sold over 2.4 million digital copies in China, making it one of the best-selling digital albums of all time in the country.[86][unreliable source?]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
AnyDecentMusic? 6.7/10[87]
Metacritic 73/100[88]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 4/5 stars[89]
The Daily Telegraph 3/5 stars[90]
Entertainment Weekly A−[91]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[92]
The Independent 4/5 stars[22]
NME 3/5[93]
Pitchfork 7.7/10[19]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[94]
Spin 7/10[95]
Vice A[96]

Anti received generally positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album received an average score of 73, based on 31 reviews.[88] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic called it "subdued, simmering affair" proving Rihanna could be "unguarded and anti-commercial, resulting in her most compelling record to date".[89] Pitchfork journalist Amanda Petrusich called Anti a "rich and conflicted record at its most interesting when it's at its most idiosyncratic",[19] while Rolling Stone's Brittany Spanos said that Rihanna had remade pop music on her own terms with "a sprawling masterpiece of psychedelic soul that's far more straightforward than its tangled rollout".[94]

In the Los Angeles Times, Mikael Wood argued that Anti was the singer's most experimental album yet and "remarkably tender at points", highlighting "Kiss It Better" and the "radical vulnerability" of the ballads near the end.[97] Writing for The Independent, Emily Jupp found the record abundant with Rihanna's self-confidence and underrated singing, disapproving "anyone who ever said her voice could only do certain things and showing them she can do anything she wants to."[22] Jia Tolentino of Spin viewed it as her first "aesthetically personal album" while praising Harrell's vocal production and the singing as "extraordinary", highlighting the tone and roundness of Rihanna's vocals.[95] Robert Christgau reviewed the deluxe edition in his blog for Vice, praising "Work", "Love on the Brain", and the bonus tracks and called Anti "her best album for a reason so simple it's tautological—despite its supposed rejection of track-and-hook mechanics, it features catchier songs."[96]

Neil McCormick believed otherwise in The Daily Telegraph, finding Anti more dependent on mood and texture rather than "the practised song-craft that usually knock the wind out of listeners".[90] NME critic Emily Mackay also felt the album lacked an obvious hit,[93] while Jon Caramanica from The New York Times described it as a "chaotic and scattershot album, not the product of a committed artistic vision, or even an appealingly freeform aesthetic, but rather an amalgam of approaches, tones, styles and moods".[98] In The Guardian, lead critic Alexis Petridis deemed Anti "sprawling, uneven and opaque", but "at its best, its daring pays off."[92] Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine was more critical and believed "the ultimate impression the album leaves isn't just that of an artist who failed to follow through on her vision, but who never bothered to conceive one in the first place."[99]

Accolades[edit]

Anti won the award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album at the 2016 American Music Awards.[100] The record received a nomination for Top R&B Album at the 2016 and 2017 Billboard Music Awards[101] and was also nominated for Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best Recording Package at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards.[102] Prior to the Grammy nominations announcement, media outlets predicted that Anti would be nominated for Album of the Year; following the announcement reporters were surprised and felt that the album had been "snubbed".[103][104] Fellow musicians also believed that the album should have been nominated, with Chance the Rapper stating that the album was "underrated".[105] Apart from Anti's nominations, several songs from it were also nominated including "Work" for Record of the Year and Best Pop/Duo Performance, "Needed Me" for Best R&B Performance and "Kiss It Better" for Best R&B Song.[106] At the 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards Anti received the award for 'R&B Album Of the Year'.[107]

According to Metacritic, it was the seventeenth most prominently ranked album of 2016.[108] NME considered it the 40th best album of the year.[109] On their list of 50 Best Albums of 2016, Rolling Stone placed the album at number 25 and wrote, "Rihanna's long-simmering eighth album brought together stinging songs that showcased the pop provocateur's ever-widening range, both stylistically and vocally."[110] The Independent's Roisin O'Connor ranked the album at number 15 out of 20 music releases of 2016 and wrote, "Anti was the moment Rihanna finally asserted herself as an album artist, after reigning as queen of the singles charts for so many years."[111] The Billboard Staff placed the album at number 11 on their list 50 Best Albums of 2016.[112] Jamieson Cox of Time ranked the record at number seven on their list The Top 10 Best Albums for 2016 and wrote, "Rihanna might be the most charismatic person on the planet, and Anti is her first album to recognize that said charisma is her greatest strength."[113] Christgau ranked its deluxe version as the second best album of the year in his ballot for The Village Voice's annual Pazz & Jop critics poll.[114]

Lewis Corner of Digital Spy ranked the album at number seven on his list of 20 best albums of 2016.[115] Same as Corner, Harriet Gibsone of The Guardian also ranked the album at number seven deeming it as one of the "messiest album releases", but also a record that show that Rihanna is one of the greatest music rock stars.[116] In their mid-year report, Entertainment Weekly placed Anti at number four on the list of The 25 best albums of 2016. For the publication, Leah Greenblatt wrote, "Anti's wild, woozy R&B easily earned 24-karat status all on its own."[117] On their final Best Albums of 2016 list, the publication ranked the album at number 3 and called it "The Emancipation of RiRi", a reference to Mariah Carey's tenth studio album, The Emancipation of Mimi.[118] Rap-Up additionally placed it at number three on their list of 20 Best Albums of 2016. Fuse ranked Anti at number one on their list The 20 Best Albums of 2016, highlighting the sounds of the album, Rihanna's vocals and the celebration of womanhood.[119] The Fader declared the release as one of the 24 Albums That Made Albums Matter Again in 2016.[120]

Impact[edit]

Doreen St. Felix of MTV News stated that Anti was a "rock-star" album and was noted as a "banner for heterogeneity in R&B — the real range of it," continuing to state that in the early 2010s EDM was the popular genre. Felix stated in a more in-depth review that "Anti could even change with the seasons, depending on which tracks you chose to listen to."[121] Alexis Petridis of The Guardian stated that R&B was in a "golden age" and 2016 "was its most potent year yet". Petridis stated that artists such as Rihanna pushed the genres "boundaries", noting that Anti "was a "sprawling, exploratory and opaque".[122]

Rolling Stone's journalist Brittany Spanos, stated that Rihanna was one of three "black women" who "radicalized Pop in 2016". In an in-depth review Spanos stated "The album is a startlingly direct statement from a black female pop star, one that many are not afforded the opportunity to express. In the media, black women are often cast as either jezebels or mammies – oversexed or undersexed with no choice as to how they are received. Rihanna's resistance to typecasting and her positive affirmation of her sexual agency made her the year's slyest rebel, a maverick living life as she pleases."[123] Taj Rani of Billboard stated "Work" has brought the genre of dancehall to the forefront of American music, as it became the first dancehall song to top the Billboard Hot 100 since Sean Paul's "Temperature" reached the feat in 2006. She opined the song is a prime example of "an unapologetic black woman proudly showing her heritage at a time when our politics are dominated by #BlackLivesMatter and Donald Trump's racist, xenophobic and misogynistic tirades."[124]

Track listing[edit]

Credits adapted from Rihanna's official website.[10]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Consideration" (featuring SZA)
2:41
2. "James Joint"
  • Taylor
  • Harrell[c]
1:12
3. "Kiss It Better"
  • Bhasker
  • Glass John[b]
  • Harrell[c]
4:13
4. "Work" (featuring Drake)
3:39
5. "Desperado"
  • Krystin "Rook Monroe" Watkins
  • Mick Schultz
  • Fenty
  • Fauntleroy
  • Derrus Rachel
  • Schultz
  • Harrell[c]
3:06
6. "Woo" 3:55
7. "Needed Me"
3:11
8. "Yeah, I Said It"
2:13
9. "Same Ol' Mistakes" Kevin Parker
  • Parker
  • Harrell[c]
6:37
10. "Never Ending"
  • Sabo
  • Harrell[c]
3:22
11. "Love on the Brain"
  • Fred Ball
  • Joseph Angel
  • Fenty
  • Ball
  • Harrell[c]
3:44
12. "Higher"
  • Ernest Wilson
  • B. Bourelly
  • Fenty
  • Fauntleroy
  • Jerry Butler
  • Kenny Gamble
  • Leon Huff
2:00
13. "Close to You"
3:43
Total length: 43:36

Notes

Sample credits

Personnel[edit]

Credits are adapted from AllMusic.[126]

  • Nathaniel Alford – engineer
  • Joseph Angel – arranger, drums, keyboards
  • Fred Ball – drums, keyboards, producer
  • Nuno Bettencourt – guitar
  • Jeff Bhasker – producer
  • Jay Brown – A&R
  • Ray Brown – assistant
  • Noel "Gadget" Campbell – mixing
  • Karen Console – A&R
  • DJ Mustard – producer
  • Drake – featured artist
  • James Fauntleroy – vocal arrangement, background vocals
  • Adam Feeney – producer
  • Robyn Rihanna Fenty – creative director, executive producer, lead vocals, poetry
  • Chris Galland – assistant, mixing assistant
  • Chris Gehringer – mastering
  • Glass John – additional production
  • Chris Godbey – engineer, mixing
  • Omar Grant – A&R
  • Kuk Harrell – engineer, vocal engineer, vocal producer
  • Jeff Jackson – mixing assistant
  • Daniel Jones – producer
  • Brian Kennedy – keyboards, producer
  • Carter Lang – organ, synthesizer bass
  • Etienne Macor – assistant
  • Fade Majah – producer
  • Blake Mares – assistant, engineer
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing
  • Chloe Mitchell – poetry
  • Brendan Morawski – assistant
  • Tim "Timbaland" Mosley – producer
  • Roy Nachum – artwork, poetry
  • Ciarra Pardo – creative director
  • Kevin Parker – instrumentation, mixing, producer
  • Daniela Rivera – engineer
  • Jennifer Rosales – A&R
  • Chad Sabo – producer
  • Ike Schultz – mixing assistant
  • Mick Schultz, guitar, producer
  • Travis Scott – additional production, vocals
  • S.C.U.M. – producer
  • Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith – A&R
  • Solana "SZA" Rowe, featured artist
  • Phil Tan – mixing
  • Shea Taylor, keyboards, producer
  • Marcos Tovar – engineer, vocal engineer
  • Thomas Warren – assistant
  • Krystin "Rook Monroe" Watkins – vocal arrangement
  • Chad Wilson – assistant
  • Ernest Wilson

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[175] Platinum 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[83] Gold 40,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[176] 2× Platinum 40,000^
France (SNEP)[177] Platinum 100,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[178] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[179] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[180] Gold 100,000^
United States (RIAA)[181] 2× Platinum 603,000[81]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

List of release dates, showing region, formats, label, editions and reference
Region Date Format(s) Label Edition(s) Ref.
Tidal (selected countries) January 28, 2016 (2016-01-28)
Standard [182]
Various January 29, 2016 (2016-01-29) Digital download [183]
Deluxe [184]
Europe February 5, 2016 (2016-02-05) CD [185]
Japan February 10, 2016 Limited [186]
Turkey February 23, 2016
  • Standard
  • deluxe
[187][188]
Brazil March 11, 2016 Universal Music Brazil
  • Standard
  • deluxe
[189][190]

See also[edit]

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  183. ^ Issues of Anti:
  184. ^ Issues of Anti (Deluxe):
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  190. ^ "Rihanna – Anti (DeLuxe) (CD)". Livraria da Folha. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved March 4, 2016. 

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