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Music of the Sun

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Music of the Sun
Rihanna - Music of the Sun.png
Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 29, 2005 (2005-08-29)
Recorded2004-2005
Studio
Genre
Length52:20
Label
Producer
Rihanna chronology
Music of the Sun
(2005)
A Girl like Me
(2006)
Alternative cover
Japanese edition cover
Japanese edition cover
Singles from Music of the Sun
  1. "Pon de Replay"
    Released: May 24, 2005
  2. "If It's Lovin' that You Want"
    Released: August 16, 2005

Music of the Sun is the debut studio album by Barbadian singer Rihanna. It was released on August 29, 2005, by Def Jam Recordings. Prior to signing with Def Jam, Rihanna was discovered by record producer Evan Rogers in Barbados, who helped Rihanna record demo tapes to send out to several record labels. Jay-Z, the former chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Def Jam, was given Rihanna's demo by Jay Brown, his A&R at Def Jam, and invited her to audition for the label after hearing what turned out to be her first single, "Pon de Replay". She auditioned for Jay-Z and L.A. Reid, the former CEO and president of record label group The Island Def Jam Music Group, and was signed on the spot to prevent her from signing with another record label.

After Rihanna was signed by Jay-Z, she continued to work with Rogers and his production partner Carl Sturken, as well as other music producers such as Poke and Tone, D. "Supa Dups" Chin-quee and Stargate. Music of the Sun features vocals from Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall, music group J-Status, and Jamaican singer Vybz Kartel. Its music incorporates Caribbean music such as dancehall and reggae, as well as dance-pop and R&B ballads.

Music of the Sun received generally mixed reviews from music critics, some of whom complimented its dancehall and Caribbean-inspired songs, while others criticized some of the production. Commercially, the album was a modest success, debuting at number ten on the US Billboard 200 and number six on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. In addition, it peaked within the top 40 of album charts in Germany, New Zealand, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. It produced two singles – "Pon de Replay" and "If It's Lovin' that You Want" – the former of which peaked at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the US Dance Club Songs. Music of the Sun was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Rihanna promoted the album along with her next release with her debut concert tour, Rihanna: Live in Concert.

Background[edit]

Prior to signing a record deal with Def Jam, Rihanna performed a cover of Whitney Houston's "For the Love of You" for then Def Jam chairman Jay-Z.[3]

Before signing to Def Jam Recordings, Rihanna was discovered in her home country Barbados by American record producer Evan Rogers. The two met in December 2003 through mutual friends of Rihanna's and Rogers' wife, while the couple was on vacation in Barbados. After meeting for the first time, Rogers asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of Destiny's Child's "Emotion" and Mariah Carey's "Hero". Rihanna's renditions impressed Rogers, who then took her to New York City, where she was accompanied by her mother to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels.[3] She recorded the demo over the next year intermittently, due to Rihanna only being able to record during school holidays.

At the age of 16, Rihanna was signed to Rogers' and Carl Sturken's production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, who assigned her a lawyer and manager, before the completed demo tape was distributed to various record labels around the world in late 2004. The first to respond to the demo tape was Jay-Z, who had recently been appointed as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. Rihanna auditioned for him and music mogul L.A. Reid in his office.[3][4] Looking back on the audition and meeting Jay-Z, Rihanna explained in an interview how she felt before walking into the room, saying: "That's when I really got nervous..... I was like: 'Oh God, he's right there, I can't look, I can't look, I can't look!' I remember being extremely quiet. I was very shy. I was cold the entire time. I had butterflies. I'm sitting across from Jay-Z. Like, Jay-Zee. I was star-struck."[3] During the audition, Rihanna performed Whitney Houston's cover of "For the Love of You", as well as "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time", which were written and produced by Rogers and Sturken and would be included on her debut album Music of the Sun.[3]

Jay-Z was initially skeptical about signing Rihanna after he felt "Pon de Replay" was too big for her, saying "when a song is that big, it's hard [for a new artist] to come back from. I don't sign songs, I sign artists".[5] The audition resulted in Rihanna signing a six-album record deal with Def Jam Recordings in February 2005, on the same day of the audition, with Jay-Z saying "There's only two ways out. Out the door after you sign this deal. Or through this window ...", meaning that he was not going to let her leave without signing a record deal.[3]

After signing to Def Jam Recordings, Rihanna cancelled other meetings with record labels and relocated from Barbados to New York City to live with Rogers and his wife.[6] Rihanna explained the concept behind the title of the album to Kidzworld, saying that the sun is representative of her native Caribbean culture as well as herself and that the album consists of music from her heritage.[7]

Recording[edit]

Rihanna worked with various producers for Music of the Sun and continued to work with Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who had previously written and produced "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time" for Rihanna's demo tape. Although Rihanna stated that when she first heard "Pon de Replay", she did not want to record it, expressing that she felt the song was "sing-songy", but grew to like the song at the end of the recording process.[8] In an interview with Kidzworld, Rihanna learned how the pair helped her develop her song-writing abilities, talking about Rogers and Sturken, who had worked with recording artists including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson.[7]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Music of the Sun is a Caribbean-influenced, "urban" dance-pop album.[1] Its dance-pop songs are complemented by contentional R&B ballads.[11] The lead single "Pon de Replay" was written by Rogers, Sturken and Vada Nobles, and was produced by the first two. "Pon de Replay" is a simple dance-pop song with dancehall beats and reggae vocal cadence.[1] Lyrically, the song has its protagonist asking the DJ to play her favorite song, as well as the fulfillment of dancing in a club.[9] "The Last Time", written and produced by Rogers and Sturken, is an acoustic guitar driven ballad, while "Now That I Know" is a stripped down string driven song.[7] In addition to working with Rogers and Sturken for the majority of the album, Rihanna worked with production teams Poke and Tone of Trackmasters and Stargate.[7] The former wrote and produced the second single released from the album, "If It's Lovin' that You Want", which Rihanna described as a "fun song".[7] A R&B song,[12] "If It's Lovin' that You Want" is a song about a girl telling a boy that he should make her his girl, because she has what the boy wants.[13] A remix of the song, entitled "If It's Lovin' That You Want – Part 2", which features rap by Cory Gunz, was included as a bonus track on Rihanna's sophomore studio album, A Girl like Me (2006).[12] Alongside Rogers and Sturken, Stargate co-wrote and co-produced "Let Me", which appears as the ninth song on the album. Music of the Sun also contains a remake of Jamaican singer Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)", and features dancehall recording artist Vybz Kartel.[7]

Singles[edit]

"Pon de Replay" was released as the album's lead single on May 24, 2005.[14] The song peaked at number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart[15] and at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 and the UK Singles Chart.[16][17] An accompanying music video was directed by Little X and features Rihanna in a nightclub setting.[18] Rihanna performed "Pon de Replay" complete with Barbados flags and colorful carnival attire at the MTV Video Music Awards pre-show in Miami, Florida on August 28, 2005.[19] Rihanna also performed the song at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in November 2005.

"If It's Lovin' that You Want" was released as the second and final single from Music of the Sun on December 2, 2005.[20] The song failed to replicate the chart success that "Pon de Replay" experienced, though managed to peak at number 36 on the US Billboard Hot 100[21] and inside the top 40 of multiple other record charts. An accompanying music video was directed by Marcus Raboy and features Rihanna in an island setting.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[1]
Boston Herald2.5/4 stars[23]
Robert Christgau(dud)[24]
Entertainment WeeklyC[2]
The Jamaica Observer3.5/5 stars[25]
New York Post2.5/5 stars[26]
PopMatters5/10[27]
Rolling Stone2.5/5 stars[28]
Slant Magazine2.5/5 stars[29]

Music of the Sun received generally mixed reviews from music critics. Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times viewed that the album's combination of dancehall and pop resulted in "["Pon de Replay" being] one [of] the summer's biggest and most seductive club tracks", but felt that Rihanna sounded "stranded" without a beat to sing along to.[30] Barry Walters of Rolling Stone found it lacking in replay value, ingenuity, and rhythm, with "generic vocal hiccups and frills" of US R&B inflecting upon her "Caribbean charm".[28] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the album a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses" and described the lead single "Pon de Replay" as "a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé's "Baby Boy".[29] Evan Serpick of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Rihanna's "vibrant vocals lift tracks like "That La, La, La" and "Let Me," but this bland reggae/R&B debut is filled with chintzy production and maudlin arrangements that block out the Music of the Sun."[2] Robert Christgau of The Village Voice rated the album a "dud",[24] indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."[31]

In a positive review, Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic commented that the album presents Rihanna as "winsome rather than [a] wannabe," as well as how she managed to set herself apart from other urban dance-pop artists such as Ashanti, Beyoncé, and Ciara. Birchmeier further explained that "[...] Music of the Sun descends into faceless slow jams after a while, overall consistency not being among its attributes, but thankfully it picks up the pace toward the end..... the result is one of the more engaging urban dance-pop albums of the year."[1] Chantal Jenoure of The Jamaica Observer complimented the dancehall and hip hop composition on several of the songs, including "Pon de Replay", "Rush", "Let Me", "Music of the Sun" and "That La, La, La", writing that they make the listener feel "happy" and "carefree".[25]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, Music of the Sun sold 69,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 in the chart issue dated September 17, 2005.[32] The album spent a total of thirty-five weeks on the chart. Music of the Sun debuted on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at number six in the same chart issue, and spent a total of forty-four weeks on the chart.[33] After five months of release, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 1, 2006, denoting shipments of over 500,000 copies.[34] By the time Rihanna released her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), the album had sold 539,000 copies,[35] making it a slower selling album than the others in her repertoire.[35][36] As of June 2015, the album had sold 623,000 copies in the United States.[37] On August 28, 2020, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album Platinum.[38] In Canada, Music of the Sun debuted and peaked at number seven on the Canadian Albums Chart in the chart issue dated September 17, 2005, but dropped out of the top ten the following week.[39] After four months of release, the album was certified Platinum by Music Canada for shipments of over 100,000 copies.[40]

Internationally, Music of the Sun failed to achieve a comparable level of chart success. In the United Kingdom, the album debuted and peaked at number 35 on the UK Albums Chart in the chart issue dated October 10, 2005.[41] In its second week charting, Music of the Sun fell by three positions to number 38 and dropped out of the official UK Top 40 the following week.[42] On May 12, 2006, the album was certified Gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), denoting shipments of over 100,000 copies.[43] Elsewhere in Europe, the album debuted on the Swiss Albums Chart at number 46 in the chart issue dated September 11, 2005, and peaked at number 38 four weeks later.[44] In Austria, Music of the Sun debuted on the Austrian Albums Chart at number 61 in the chart issue dated September 18, 2005, and peaked at number 45 the following week.[45] The album debuted and peaked at number 93 on the French Albums Chart in the chart issue dated September 24, 2005.[46] In the Netherlands, Music of the Sun debuted and peaked at number 98 on the Mega Album Top 100 in the chart issue dated April 29, 2006, and spent one week on the chart.[47] In New Zealand, the album debuted on the New Zealand Albums Chart at number 40 in the chart issue dated September 26, 2005. Between September 29 and October 10, 2005, Music of the Sun dropped out of the album chart's top 40, but made a re-entry at number 40 on October 10, 2005. In its fourth week charting, the album peaked at number 26.[48]

Track listing[edit]

Music of the Sun track listing
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Pon de Replay"
  • Nobles
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
4:06
2."Here I Go Again" (featuring J-Status)
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
4:11
3."If It's Lovin' that You Want"3:28
4."You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" (featuring Vybz Kartel)4:20
5."That La, La, La"
  • Full Force
  • Emile
  • Johnny "Too" Nice[a]
  • Rogers[b]
  • Sturken[b]
3:45
6."The Last Time"
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
4:53
7."Willing to Wait"
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
4:38
8."Music of the Sun"
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
3:56
9."Let Me"
3:56
10."Rush" (featuring Kardinal Offishall)
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
3:09
11."There's a Thug in My Life" (featuring intro by J-Status)
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Etterlene Jordan
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Rudy Maya[c]
3:18
12."Now I Know"
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Fenty
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
5:00
13."Pon de Replay Remix" (featuring Elephant Man) (bonus track)
  • Brooks
  • Nobles
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Nobles
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
3:37
Total length:52:17
UK bonus track
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
14."Should I?" (featuring J-Status)
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • J-Status
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
3:06
Total length:55:26
Japanese bonus track
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
15."Hypnotized"
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
  • Fenty
  • Rogers
  • Sturken
4:15
Total length:59:41
Special Japan Tour Edition (bonus DVD)[49]
No.TitleLength
1."Pon de Replay" (music video) 
2."If It's Lovin' that You Want" (Music video) 
3."Rihanna EPK" 

Notes[edit]

  • ^a denotes a co-producer
  • ^b denotes a vocal producer
  • ^c denotes an additional producer
  • "If It's Lovin' that You Want" contains interpolations from the composition "The Bridge Is Over", written by Scott La Rock and Lawrence Parker.
  • "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)" is a cover of a song with the same name by Dawn Penn.
  • "Willing to Wait" contains interpolations from the composition "Free", written by Cotton Greene, Henry Redd, Nathan Watts and June Deniece Williams.
  • "Music of the Sun" contains interpolations from "Rhythm of the Night", written by Diane Warren.
  • "There's a Thug in My Life" contains interpolations from the composition "A Dream", written by Etterlene Jordan.

Personnel[edit]

Credits for Music of the Sun are adapted from AllMusic and the album's liner notes.[50]

Recording locations

Mixing locations

Vocals

Musicians

  • Larry Glazener – bass (track 12)
  • Stephanie Cummins – cello (track 6)
  • Richard Locker – cello (track 12)
  • Mark Shumann – cello (track 12)
  • Richard Sortomme – concertmaster (track 5)
  • Carl Sturkenguitar (tracks 4, 6, 8), keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10, 11, 13), piano (track 12), additional keyboards (track 9)
  • Tor Erik Hermanseninstruments (track 9)
  • Mikkel Storleer Eriksen – instruments (track 9)
  • Rob Mounseystring arrangement and string conductor (track 12)
  • Ken Burdward-Hoy – viola (track 12)
  • Vincent Lionti – viola (track 12)
  • Sue Pray – viola (track 12)
  • Debra Shuffelt-Dine – viola (track 6)
  • Avril Brown – violin (track 12)
  • Cenovia Cummins – violin (track 12)
  • Yana Goichman – violin (track 12)
  • Ann Leathers – violin (track 12)
  • Jan Mullen – violin (track 12)
  • Elizabeth Nielson – violin (track 6)
  • Marti Sweet – violin (track 12)
  • Uri Vodoz – violin (track 12)
  • Carol Webb – violin (track 12)

Production

  • Jay Brown – A&R
  • Adrienne Muhammad – A&R
  • Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith – A&R
  • D. Emilearrangements and producer (track 5)
  • Full Force – arrangements, mixing, producer, recording engineer, and vocal production (track 5)
  • Tai Linzie – art coordination, photography
  • Andy West – art direction
  • Jason Agel – assistant engineer (track 1)
  • Val Brathwaite – assistant engineer (tracks 1, 13)
  • Julius Díaz – assistant engineer (track 13)
  • Blake Douglas – assistant engineer (track 1)
  • Roy Matthews – assistant engineer (tracks 1, 13)
  • Alex Pinto – assistant engineer (track 13)
  • Ian Allen – business affairs
  • Heath Kudler – business affairs
  • Antoinette Trotman – business affairs
  • The Carter Administrationexecutive producer
  • Evan Rogers – co-executive producer, co-producer (track 9), producer (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10-13), additional vocal production (tracks 3, 5)
  • Carl Sturken – co-executive producer, co-producer (track 9), producer (tracks 1, 2, 4, 6-8, 10-13), programming (tracks 2, 4, 6-8, 10, 11), additional vocal production (tracks 3, 5), additional programming (track 9)
  • D. "Supa Dups" Chinquee – co-producer (track 4)
  • Johnny "Too" Nice – co-producer, mixing, and recording engineer (track 5)
  • Spanador – co-producer (track 3)
  • Rudy Maya – drum programming and additional production (track 11)
  • Tippi Shorter – hairstyling
  • Scott Felcher – legal counsel
  • Evan Freifeld – legal counsel
  • Marc Jordan – management
  • Mylah Morales – make-up
  • Tracey Waples – marketing
  • Chris Gehringermastering
  • Al Hemberger – mixing (tracks 2, 4, 6-12), recording engineer (all tracks), additional mixing (track 3)
  • Jason Goldstein – mixing (track 3)
  • Jason Groucott – mixing (tracks 1, 13)
  • Vada Nobles – mixing and producer (tracks 1, 13)
  • Michelle Graf – packaging
  • Mark Mann – photography
  • Ivan Otis – photography
  • Poke and Tone – producers (track 3)
  • Stargate – producers (track 9)
  • Andrea Derby – production manager
  • Rob Heselden – production manager assistant
  • Matt Noble – recording engineer (tracks 3, 10)
  • Deborah Mannis-Gardner – sample clearance
  • Malcolm Pollack – strings recording engineer (track 12)
  • Ms. Cee Gee – studio assistant
  • Charlene Curry – studio assistant
  • Lou$tar – studio assistant
  • Raphaela St. Vil – studio assistant
  • Crystal Streets – stylist
  • Makeba – vocal production

Accolades[edit]

Year Ceremony Award Result Ref.
2006 Barbados Music Awards Best Reggae/Dancehall Album Won [51]
Album of the Year Won [51]

Charts[edit]

Charts (2005–06) Peak
position
Australian Hitseekers Albums (ARIA)[52] 18
Australian Urban Albums (ARIA)[53] 26
Austrian Albums (Ö3 Austria)[54] 45
Canadian Albums (Billboard)[55] 7
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[56] 98
French Albums (SNEP)[57] 93
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[58] 31
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[59] 26
Swiss Albums (Schweizer Hitparade)[60] 38
UK Albums (OCC)[61] 35
US Billboard 200[62] 10
US Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums (Billboard)[63] 6

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (CRIA)[40] Platinum 100,000^
Germany (BVMI)[64] Gold 100,000^
Japan (RIAJ)[65] Gold 100,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[66] Gold 7,500^
United Kingdom (BPI)[43] Gold 148,660*[67]
United States (RIAA)[38] Platinum 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United Kingdom August 29, 2005 CD Mercury [68]
Canada August 30, 2005 Universal [69]
United States Def Jam [70]
Germany September 5, 2005 Universal [71]
Japan September 23, 2005 [72]
January 18, 2006 CD+DVD [73]
August 1, 2012 SHM-CD [74]
Canada April 7, 2017 LP [75]
United States Def Jam [76]

References[edit]

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