“Rated R”, Rihanna’s fourth studio album, has sold over 2 millions copies worldwide – since November 23, 2009. Since nowadays albums don’t sell like they used to, the sales are pretty good. 2 singles have been released worlwide (Russian Roulette and Rude Boy) and 3 in the United States (Russian Roulette, Hard and Rude Boy). For amazing “Rated R” reviews, click read more.
Top Albums Of The Year
After the Chris Brown drama, the 21 year old diva emerged triumphant. Her gritty fourth album is her coming-of-age manifesto, her Control. It’s deeper and darker, harder and heavier than anything you have expected from the girl who gave us “Umbrella”.
Top Albums Of The Year
Even smart people make decisions they later come to regret. In Rihanna’s case, she turned that regret into powerful and moving art.
Much of this daring album is absolutely over the top, bleak and sleek both lyrically and sonically, but it’s compelling, filled with as many memorably belligerent lines — two of which, “I pitch with a grenade/Swing away if ya feeling brave” and “I’m such a f**kin’ lady,” set the tone early on — as a rap album made ripe for dissection.
Whether the album seems ridiculous or spectacular (or both), Rihanna’s complete immersion in the majority of the songs cannot be disputed. That is the one thing that is not up for debate.
New York Times
Albums Of The Year List
In the multimedia whirlwind of a 21st-century pop career, Rihanna simply couldn’t have made an album of lovey-dovey ballads or simple dance songs. “Rated R” does what divas do: leverage personal troubles into music. And with it, Rihanna never lets her sorrows overwhelm her musical craftsmanship or the determination behind it.
Until recently, the singer has been quiet about the incident. Songs like “Russian Roulette” — a domestic-violence victim’s confession whipped into soaring melodrama — tell us why: She was busy saying her piece in the studio.
If by some accident of fate, or maybe record-company cynicism, the new Chris Brown album has arrived at the same moment as his ex’s. The results tempt a reviewer to talk in terms of moral victories, but the real triumph here is artistic. Chris Brown has made a bland, occasionally obnoxious, pro forma R&B album. Rihanna has transformed her sound and made one of the best pop records of the year.
In response to circumstances beyond her control, the pop star many had preemptively compared to the likes of Janet Jackson finally pockets her own private Velvet Rope.
Los Angeles Times
“Rated R” belongs to that lonely figure, a self-styled X-Girl taken aback by her own vulnerability. After an intro that immediately cops to its maker’s agitation — it’s called “Mad House” — the album unfolds in quick turns, alternating acts of aggression with confessions of sorrow and confusion.
By allowing herself to express the whole range of what an abused woman goes through, Rihanna has given those young fans for whom she feels responsible the greatest gift art can give: a portrait of lived experience that doesn’t step back from what’s hardest to admit.
The consistent mood in vocals, instrumentation and lyrics on Rated R is impressive. The last time a major mainstream pop star explored personal darkness with such an unflinching eye over the course of an album was on Kelly Clarkson’s stunning My December. Rihanna seems unconcerned here about commercial success. She even seems uninterested in any particular enjoyment from her listeners. She is here to lay bare the emotions and experiences she was forced to bear. It is both a musical cautionary tale, and a depiction that survival is possible. Some of the vocals here, particularly on the powerful “Cold Case Love” are among the most beautiful Rihanna has yet recorded, but they are in the service of a very dark, bleak statement.
CHICAGO SUN TIMES
The album moves through the same sort of emotional journey that one imagines the singer undergoing in the last year. After an opening old-school horror-movie homage called “Mad House”–more shades of “Thriller”–we find Rihanna boasting about being part of an unbeatable team (“Together we gonna be taking over” and sitting on top of the pop charts and the world in general (“Brilliant, resilient/Fan mail from 27 million” in “Wait Your Turn” and “Hard.”
“I’ve never played a victim/I’d rather be a stalker,” Rihanna sings. That’s hardly a profound or particularly feminist lyric, but its strength comes from the way she spits out the words. In both the quieter, more introspective songs and the angrier dancehall-flavored club-stompers, her limited vocal range has never sounded more convincing or deserving of the pop spotlight.
“Rated R’’ is not just an album title – it’s a warning. On her fourth release, out today, pop star Rihanna unleashes a storm, and an umbrella is not going to cut it.
Rihanna makes the sound her own, and fights back. On ‘G4L’ she calls for an army of women in solidarity: “Girls, girls, come on we ain’t done yet/Gotta lot to handle/We ain’t take over the world yet/Guns in the air”. Never exploited and totally in control, the sultry sexbomb of ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ is now a siren on the rocks – dangerous, self-aware and with a clan behind her. Empowered but not embittered, Rihanna turns her back on love.
THE COUCH SESSIONS
Undeterred by such a notion, Rihanna releases Rated R her fourth studio album on November 23rd, one of the more anticipated releases of the fourth quarter holiday season. It’s a dark, defiant and downright angry Rihanna on this record, appearing ready to fight a world that turned their back on her, and heaped pity, scorn and ridicule upon her situation.
Pop Album Of The Year
The insidious pleasure of the Barbadian superstar’s dark, defiantly uncommercial fourth album have sucked us in entirely. From burst of spiky aggression and reggae-tinged rapture to moments of pure naked vulnerability it’s emerged as the stealth stunner.
Throughout this emotional maelstrom of an R&B album, Rihanna keeps finding gripping new ways to transform regret into a kind of threat.
Rated R is without question a very dark album, which should come as no surprise. After her breakup with Chris Brown following a vicious beating, it was assumed that she’d be addressing domestic abuse and heartbreak, but we were expecting a more introspective collection of ballads and tearjerkers. Instead, she’s delivered an angry and emotional album of goth R&B jams (new genre alert?) with heavy rock overtones.
Amidst the violent revenge fantasies and appropriation of dancehall machismo, she also tackles self-doubt and regret, making Rated R one of the more complex breakup albums ever to penetrate the mainstream.
There’s a four-letter word that describes Rated R better than all others. This is an album that begins with a sonorous male voice intoning, “Welcome to the mad house” over Hammer Horror organs and ends with a suicide ballad called ‘The Last Song’. The black-and-white album cover presents Rihanna as a beautiful/aloof pop cyborg in desperate need of some Nurofen, while the photos inside show her encased in barbed wire, lying on a bed of naked Barbie dolls and rocking a chainmail wig. That four-letter word, in case you haven’t guessed it yet, is “dark”. Rated R isn’t just dark, but unrelentingly dark.
However, if one word describes how Rated R sounds, quite another encapsulates what it’s about. That word? Control. Rated R should primarily be perceived as Rihanna’s most significant career progression yet. If ‘Pon De Replay’ and ‘SOS’ showed she could sell a pop single, and 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad proved she could carry an entire album, this is the record – startling in vision, startlingly good in execution – that elevates her from popstar to pop artist. Rihanna, in case you were wondering, is still only 21 years old.
Over the course of her first three albums, Rihanna established herself increasingly as a force to be reckoned with in pop music.
Rihanna’s career came to a grinding halt in February when she was assaulted by then-boyfriend Chris Brown, forcing her to cancel that night’s performance at the Grammys. Nine months later, she returns with her fourth album – her darkest, most autobiographical collection of songs yet.
Rihanna has loved, she has suffered, and she has made the album she had to make – one that references her tabloid-splashed story without drowning in it. She comes out stronger for it with her most personal album, and perhaps her strongest.
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE
The infectiousness and fun that the reggae-influenced Barbadian-American Rihanna showcased on her first three albums is nowhere to be found on her fourth album, “Rated R.” Instead, she’s a defiant, hard-edged singer who directly addresses her relationship with Chris Brown and the ugliness he unleashed upon her. Hell hath no fury like Rihanna, whose distinctive singing style is a powerful weapon on songs that replace her once-childish pop with angry club-bangers and devastating ballads. The change of personalities is jarring, but the album is a perfect salvo to prove she’s determined not to be a victim.
It’s clear from the opening Mad House that her once-sunny mood has been darkened by the intense media spotlight, pushing her further into the edgier territory she staked out on 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad. Bolder and often explicit lyrics and more assured vocals reflect a growing confidence and artistic maturity. This is about her coming to grips with her stardom, her hurts, her competition and her critics. Hard is a punch in the mouth to her doubters, while Stupid in Love declares “the dunce cap is off.” Wait Your Turn brashly puts rivals in check, and Rude Boy maintains her dance-floor allure. But probably the most telling statement of who Rihanna is these days is the Slash-propelled Rockstar 101, which revels in her status as a ubiquitous celebrity (“I never played the victim/I’d rather be a stalker”.
Rihanna may have been a good girl gone bad on her 2007 album, but on her new one, she’s a good girl gone bad-ass. During the electric-guitar-soused “Rock Star,” the R&B singer revels in her bad-girl rebellion. The singles “Wait Your Turn” and “Hard” find Rihanna singing beefy lyrics over epic piano patterns. But she doesn’t talk tough all the way through the set. “Photographs” features Rihanna lamenting over a lost relationship above static drums, whereas on the heartfelt ballad “Stupid in Love,” she croons over a pulsating beat, “You don’t know what you lost/And you won’t realize it till I’m gone.”
Ultimately, though, Rihanna is able to locate a midway point between victimhood and oblivion. In Cold Case Love, a slice of jerky melancholia co-written by Justin Timberlake, she calmly intones: “Release me now ’cos I did my time.” And so she has. Its melodrama sharpened with the sting of experience, this cathartic album is the sound of a woman losing control — and then triumphantly regaining it.
A lot of her fans and a lot of the world was left wondering just how Rihanna would react after the ugly incident that left her in the eye of the hurricane. She kept her dignity but she definitely stood up with a mixture of defiance, pride and power on “Rated R.”
Sometimes good things come out of bad, and that’s the case for this sultry Barbados-born diva, who has created a critical, if not commercial, breakthrough album on her fourth try, and if I had listened to it any sooner, it would’ve been on my year-end best-of list. Growing up in public, Rihanna deals with all her issues in the music and her art, while emerging as the most thrilling new female crossover artist on the urban landscape since the heyday of Grace Jones.