After the success of Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna returns with her fourth release, Rated R. The sound of each of the thirteen tracks is a step up from the poppy glow of previous albums, while maintaining the gritty Rihanna vocal.
The wave of “Wait Your Turn,” is a Stargate produced number that complements the singer’s voice. The ear of the listener can feel Rihanna’s edgier tone as she walks on the lyrics. “Hard,” Rated R‘s second single, is a journey to a more urban sound for the singer. Adding Young Jeezy to the cut makes it more notable as does the crazy production by The Dream.
“Russian Roulette,” the first cut sent to radio, is a passionate song with multiple meanings. Rihanna is at her best here as she reflects on recent experiences. The chorus is haunting and dark. Written by Ne-Yo, it is one of Rated R‘s high points for its tragic rhythm and Rihanna was quoted as saying it “was one of her favorites.”
The rambunctious “Rockstar 101,” is a seductive and sassy love opera that complements her voice well. Guitarist, Slash resonates well with the growling hook “I told you baby, I’m a rockstar.” The Brandy remake, “Stupid in Love,” is a nice rework, but takes away from Rated R‘s character.
“Te Amo,” the less restless of Rated R‘s tracks breezes by as a revisit to the dancehall sound of “Pon De Replay,” while “Cold Case Love,” a Justin Timberlake produced piece is arguably Rihanna at her most exposed and Rated R’s best song. The song pulls back the curtain on Rihanna as she describes love. The lyricism of “your love is breaking the law/but I needed a witness/so wake me up when it’s over/it don’t make any difference” is telling and heartfelt.
Rated R is a work of art that displays Rihanna’s growth as a singer and an artist. The album’s heartbreaking and sexy material highlights the reasons why the Barbados native has become so successful. The fourth release leaves no doubt, Rihanna, has embarked on a road towards becoming a more powerful R&B and pop ambassador.
Rated R receives PARL