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This Day in Pop: Rihanna releases ‘Rated R’ album in 2009

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A day like today but 12 years ago, Rihanna released her fourth studio album, ‘Rated R’.

Rated R - Album by Rihanna | Spotify

Her most critically acclaimed work to date, Rated R is characterized by a mature, heartfelt delivery and by being the first record in which Rihanna starts participating more in the creative process. It was highly anticipated, since the violent incident with Chris Brown had taken place just nine months prior. The era saw Rihanna with a complete sonic and visual overhaul.

Unlike some other projects of hers, the album follows a line and it does not seem to be put together only to host her smash hits. Originally to be titled ‘Such a ******* Lady’, the songs explore heartbreak, regret, and a hard-edged, boastful attitude. In terms of production, pop, hip hop, R&B, and rock are seamlessly blended.

I would like to discuss some of these songs, tracks that laid the blueprint for what Rihanna continued to do, at least until 2016.

Lead single ‘Russian Roulette’ took many of us by surprise. We were used to fun bops and we got a response to all that had been going on in her personal life, covered in some of her best vocals to date.

‘Wait Your Turn’, ‘Hard’, and ‘Rockstar 101’ depict Rihanna as a bold, fearless woman, just the way she is. She definitely owns this persona and it shows in her delivery.

Ballads like ‘Fire Bomb’ and ‘Cold Case Love’ truly shine in this album, and in her entire discography. Some fans hoped they would become singles, and while I would’ve agreed, I also like their hidden gem status. The bridge in Fire Bomb lives rent free in my mind. Cold Case Love is an obvious nod to Chris Brown, six minutes and four seconds of pure greatness.

‘Rude Boy’, the big hit in the album. Classic Rihanna: dancehall influences, raunchy lyrics, and a catchy hook.

‘Te Amo’ is one of the most interesting songs in the album. One might think that the latin music influence might be too on the nose, but it works effortlessly. As the song progresses it just gets better. The bi-curious energy is real here.

‘The Last Song’ closes the album beautifully. The lyrics are perfect for that empty post-breakup feeling.

Rated R is probably my favorite Rihanna album, and its influence can be seen in all of her ensuing projects. It was the first one in the string of albums that she put out within a year or less between them. I daresay, if it were released today, it would sound…kind of fresh… what do you think, Exhale?

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4 hours ago, Adriannn said:

Well she's just selling makeup and underwear now :werk_britney_bw_black_white_dance_sexy_flirt_my_prerogative:

Yeah but tbh I think she's building hype and gonna try and pull a Beyonce for her next album by either droping it out of nowhere hoping people lose their minds or doing a whole short movie with it. I must say I wasn't very into Anti so if that's where she's headed, I'm not really interested, myself.

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