Review #230: ANTI, Rihanna

Karla Clifton
2 min readJan 26, 2022

#230: ANTI, Rihanna

The best thing about this project is getting to listen to artists separated by sixty years in the span of a day. Patsy Cline and Rihanna couldn’t sound more different, but man oh man, both of them spoke to me.

This is Rihanna’s first album released after she left Def Jam, and also the last one she put out. Six years ago! I guess she’s been busy becoming a makeup mogul. (This was also one of the most notable TIDAL exclusive releases. I’m obsessed with TIDAL, Jay-Z’s greatest failure.)

If there’s one song you’ve heard on this record, it’s “Work.” I can’t say enough about how great “Work” is, even with Drake’s lame-duck verse. The sparse beat, Rihanna’s accent, the Work work work work work… I wanted it to last for ten minutes.

I’ve never thought of Rihanna as a particularly stellar singer, maybe because her personality (and FENTY Beauty) has eclipsed her talent, but ANTI has some great vocals on it. “Consideration” makes great use of her unique delivery, and the runs she does on “Needed Me” are perfection.

That’s to say nothing of the badass beats and instrumentation that accompany her — “Kiss It Better” has a truly bitchin’ electric guitar, and the BWAHHs on “Woo” are delightful. Perhaps my favorite sleeper song was “Never Ending,” which has an acoustic melody that riffs on Dido’s “Thank You.” The back half of the album slows down with several love ballads in a row, namely “Love On The Brain,” “Higher,” and “Close To You.” I’m not a love ballad fan, but I wasn’t mad at any of these. In fact, after listening to ANTI for the first time, I went back and listened to “Stay” and “Unfaithful.” Rihanna: living proof that you can be badass and also sing gorgeous ballads.

The RS blurb quotes Rihanna as saying that she wanted to make an album “that I want to smoke to.” That’s most evident on “James Joint,” which opens up with Rihanna declaring that she’d rather be smoking weed, but the whole album has that stoner flavor. That said, you can be anti-pot and pro-ANTI.

Other Highlights: The way she says Boy on “Desperado.” “Yeah, I Said It” sounds like the future. “Same Ol’ Mistakes” was a hit? Man, I’ve been out of touch for a while.

IS RS FULL OF IT? Yes, ANTI should be higher.

Review #229: The Ultimate Collection, Patsy Cline

Review #231: Damn the Torpedoes, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers