Rihanna | Rated R


There is a parental advisory sticker on the cover but Rated R does not mean Rated Restricted. It is Rated Rihanna, the 21 year old’s saga in song.
The Thriller-like intro to her journey is aptly named “Mad House” and sums up the album’s rollercoaster theme of extreme highs, lows and loops. At the start, Rihanna goes on a chest thumping campaign on “Wait Your Turn” and repeats “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up” on “Hard” (ft. Jeezy).

After all of the pompous proclamations, the emotional rollercoaster takes a dive and RiRi lets her guard down on “Stupid in Love.” She laments about being…well… stupid in love, but decides, “…the dunce cap is off. I still love you but I just can’t do this. I may be dumb but I’m not stupid in love.” The sound of a spinning gun chamber and sharp breaths serve as the foreboding background for the ominous and controversial lead single, “Russian Roulette.” The pervasive metaphor for the “game” of risk-taking is clear in the Ne-Yo penned track and the cinematography of the music video further elucidates that idea. In “Photographs,” Rihanna reminisces about the love that should’ve been “happy & lovely” in the present, but instead, all she has to show for it are photos of the past.

Then there’s “G4L.” On her last album, RiRi professed that she was a Good Girl Gone Bad, but who knew that she turned into a Gangsta 4 Life! With lyrics like “I lick the gun when I’m done ‘cause I know that revenge is sweet/ and “I’m ready to roll. Girl, I’m with you. If they get you they get me,” Rihanna expresses her loyalty to her personal army of girls in Rated R’s version of a ride or die chick.

Just as quickly as listeners are thrown for a loop on the Latin/Dancehall tinged “Te Amo,” a song about the unrequited love between two women, the rollercoaster takes its final dive on “Cold Case Love.” Rihanna’s vocals take centerstage with lyrics like “What you did to me wasn’t right. I let you reach me one more time, but that’s enough. Your love is breaking the law but I needed a witness.” The lengthy & solemn, Justin Timberlake penned track, eventually climaxes into a crescendo of guitar riffs and beatboxing.

While there is a storm of emotions brewing on Rated R, there is no “Umbrella” to be found. Symbolism is used to address vulnerabilities and the album’s “dark” side is countered with injections of bravado and sauciness. The edgy album successfully fuses multiple genres and the songs evoke powerful imagery. You will – at a minimum – speculate about who/what Rihanna is singing about. Despite that, Rated R is not a succession of sad love songs. Instead, it is a layered story of raw emotions, thoughts of despair and yet, rising above it all by being, “resilient” and “tougher than a lion” because “no pain is forever.

Rated R hits shelves today
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NYC area fans, you have the chance to meet Rihanna today.
She will be signing purchased copies of Rated R in Best Buy this evening!
When: Monday, November 23, 2009 @ 5pm
Where: Best Buy
One Union Square South
Get there EARLY

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  1. Rated R gets a "B" from me for mediocre/tolerable.

    The only decent songs are, So Hard and Russian Roulette. The rest of the tracks aren't memorable or particularly good. IDK what it is, but the songs on this CD are dull/overly manufactured.

    BTW, I was a big Rihanna fan prior to this CD coming out, but since when does getting abused = G for life, I'm so Hard, or I'm a Rockstar? Rihanna is from Barbados, a tiny ass island.

    She's a Good Girl Gone Ho and I don't like it or this CD.

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