The queen of the yearly album release, Rihanna, is back like she never left — because she hasn’t — with her seventh studio album, Unapologetic. And just as the title suggests, RiRi’s new tunes are bigger, bolder, and more brash than ever. And we effing love it.
Unapologetic works almost as two albums in one. On the first half, RiRi is unapologettically cocky, ratchet, and intoxicated off life and alcohol on hip hop-laced tracks like “Phresh Out The Runway,” “Numb,” and “Pour It Up.” In the second half, RiRi is unapologettically in love… with Chris Brown. Many of the second half’s tracks either hold very thinly-veiled references to their epic soap opera of a love story, like “Love Without Tragedy,” on which RiRi likens herself and Breezy to tragic Hollywood figures like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, or actually features Breezy himself, crooning about how she’ll always be his and he’ll always be hers and the world can either get with it or get lost.
Unapologetic without a doubt holds some of Rihanna’s strongest, most personal material yet, so it was a real task to single out the four songs from the set you need to know the most. But we did it. Find out which songs are at the top of our list in this 4 tracks review below:
Numb featuring Eminem: On this Kanye West-sampling track, we’re popping E and letting the champagne splash as we get all the way effed up with RiRi at the club. “Ecstasy in the air/I don’t care/Can’t tell me nothing/I’m impaired.” Getting impaired with RiRi is fun stuff, but so is the animated verse dropped by Eminem, which features the memorable line, “I’m the siren that you hear hear/I’m the butt police and I’m looking at your rear rear rear.”
Nobody’s Business featuring Chris Brown: We know it’s tough, but put aside everything you know about these two’s turbulent past and tell us you don’t think this track is (slightly cheesy) pop goodness. Can’t do it, can ya? Breezy and RiRi take turns proclaiming their love for each other while telling the world to stay out of their business over a smooth, Michael Jackson-channeling and -sampling beat. “You’ll always be mine/Say it to the world/Always be my boy/I’ll always be your girl/And it ain’t nobody’s business, ain’t nobody’s business, ain’t nobody’s business but mine and my baby,” RiRi sings at the opening of the song. Breezy closes things out by letting the spirit of the late King of Pop take him over with some truly delicious MJ-inspired ad-libs.
Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary: With lyrics like “red lipstick, rose petals, heartbreak/I was his Marilyn Monroe/Brown eyes, tuxedo, fast cars/A James Dean on the low,”"Love Without Tragedy” plays out like one of those sad Hollywood love stories from the 1950s. But as the song continues, you realize this track is based on a very tragic, very true story: Rihanna and Chris Brown’s story. “You used to be this boy I loved/And I used to be this girl of your dreams/Who knew the course of this one drive injured us fatally/You took the best years of my life/I took the best years of your life/Felt like love struck me in the night/I pray that love don’t strike twice.” As the two-part track switches over to the dark confessional “Mother Mary,” Rihanna cries out to Mary and Mr. Jesus for guidance, but, like the truly unapologetic rebel she is, declares she’ll accept the consequences of her defiance. “I’m prepare to die in the moment.”
Get It Over With: Float away in the (smoke) clouds with RiRi in this starry ballad, crafted by Brian Kennedy and James Fauntleroy. RiRi’s gorgeously airy vocals are complimented by Fauntleroy’s backing harmonies throughout the track as she sings, “It’s alright, we can roll in the clouds/Getting high, we can float in the clouds…You keep thundering, thundering/I’m wondering, wondering why you keep thundering/Won’t you just f*cking rain and get it over with?” RiRi ends the tune on a hopeful note, singing, “look up, the sun is just a cloud away.”