Why Rihanna Might Just Drop “Anti” Any Time Now

BadGyal RiRi Still Teasing That Eighth Album

It would not be an unfair generalization to say that magazine editors tend to ultra-competitive personalities who are not above a little schadenfreude now and then. I’m not too proud to say that, after pursuing my third Drake cover for several years while at Complex—and coming up empty, except for the time his publicist wanted us to go head-to-head with VIBE and we politely declined—I was rather amused when Drake bailed on a VIBE cover shoot and later Rolling Stone burned him and he swore off magazines altogether. The first two Drake covers I worked on—Lola Ogunnaike’s 2009 VIBE cover story “Rookie of the Year” (which earned a spot in DaCapo’s Best Music Writing anthology) and Damien Scott’s 2011 Complex cover story “The Long Way Home”—were pretty spectacular, so I was disappointed at the notion of Drake never doing press again. And I’m not so competitive that I was mad to see him finally do a Fader cover last year. As a music lover and a journalist I enjoyed reading a thorough profile of a fascinating artist. But here’s what did crack me up: When Rihanna snagged a recent Fader cover based on just five questions answered by email. There’s no doubt that her forthcoming release Anti is one of Most Anticipated Albums of 2016. But when a magazine gives you the cover, it’s just common courtesy to sit down for an interview—even a quickie, as Rihanna did for the 2013 Complex cover I edited. Not that she said much, but it’s just disrespectful to expect a writer to put a story together based on five emailed questions. Props to Mary H.K. Choi for doing a killer write-around, but I digress…  All of this is a long-winded reminder that Rihanna has already served noticed as to who calls the shots—like BRAP! BRAP! BRAP!  More After The Jump…

To say that Robyn Rihanna Fenty has never been the same since that day Jay Z reportedly locked her in his office at Island Def Jam, refusing to let her out until she signed on the dotted line, would be stating the obvious. Between 2005 and 2012 the Bajan Bad Gyal went on to release seven massive albums in the space of eight years—over 200 million albums served—a pace of production that would put McDonald’s to shame. Since then, she quietly made the jump from Island Def Jam to Roc Nation, and then…crickets. Sure, Rihanna has given us plenty of magazine covers, social media shitstorms, an elevator brawl, and a creepy cool Samsung video diary, but no album in more than three years.

Nevertheless the juggernaut rolls on. Rihanna was named Spotify’s most-streamed female artist in the world last year, with over a billion streams and 57 million listeners—even though some of the music she’s released was, frankly, underwhelming. Despite the big-name features, “FourFiveSeconds” felt like four or five hours, and “American Oxygen” could have been a Lana Del Rey outtake. “BBHMM” offered a ray of hope, but the Navy is growing restless.


Then, last week a screenshot leaked, purportedly revealing the full Anti tracklist: 22 songs, features from J. Cole, Drake, Travis Scott. And while we fux with that “James Joint” interlude, it was disappointing to see no dancehall collaborations—again—despite talk that RiRi may eventually do an all reggae album, which would of course be legendary. Then Instagrams of a video shoot with Drake—and Louis Vuitton horses—began floating around. There is still no official release date, but rumors are rife that the album could drop at any moment. (Are you listening, Beyoncé?) Latest clue that the talk is true: Rihanna’s twitpic selfie wearing $8,000 Dolce & Gabbana headphones (still trying to figure out if the crown is sold separately) captioned “Listening to Anti.” Plus the Samsung ANTIdiary has just one more chamber to unlock! When in doubt, remember what Deep Throat told Woodward & Bernstein: “Follow the money.”

RELATED: Rihanna’s 10 Best Reggae Songs (So Far)

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