Rated R is the fourth studio album by Barbadian recording artist Rihanna, first released November 20, 2009, on Def Jam Recordings. The album is a musical distance from her previous effort Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), which contained up-tempo and ballad-oriented songs, and it heavily incorporated pop and dance-pop musical styles. Conceived after Rihanna's assault by her then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, Rated R features different foreboding and angry tone, in terms of musical and lyrical direction, and incorporates elements of hip hop, rock, and dubstep. The album also incorporated other musical genres, such as Dancehall in the Jamaican inspired "Rude Boy" and Latin in "Te Amo".
Recording sessions for the album took place during March to November 2009 at several recording studios throughout United States and Europe. Rihanna together with L.A. Reid, Jay-Z and Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, executively produced the album and worked with several record producers, including Chase & Status, StarGate, The-Dream, Ne-Yo, and Brian Kennedy. The album also included several featured vocalists and instrumentalist, including Young Jeezy, Will.i.am and Slash who played the guitars in "Rockstar 101".
Upon its release Rated R received positive reviews from music critics, who praised Rihanna's mature performance, and described the album as her most layered and heartfelt effort. The album debuted at number four on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 181,000 copies in its first week in the United States. The album reached number-one in Norway, Switzerland and on the US Billboard R&B/Hip Hop Albums. On the UK Albums Chart, the album reached a peak of nine, and was certified gold in only four days.
The album produced five singles, including the international hits "Russian Roulette", "Rude Boy" and "Te Amo", together with the US releases "Hard". "Wait Your Turn" was also released as the albums promotional single. "Russian Roulette" was released as albums lead single and managed to reach top-ten in seventeen countries and topped the charts in Norway and Switzerland. "Hard reached number nine in the United States and became her thirteenth top-ten single re-tying her with Beyoncé Knowles as the female artist with the most top-ten hit singles in the United States. "Rude Boy" was a commercial success and became the only single from the album that topped the US Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. "Rockstar 101" was released in the United States and managed to reach number two on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Songs. "Te Amo", the last international released single, managed to reach number one on Brazilian Hot 100 Airplay and peaked within the top-ten in nine other countries.
User Album Review
In every sense, Rihanna is an extraordinary pop star. Still only 21, she has sold 12 million records worldwide, and bagged the longest-running British number one single of the decade with Umbrella – a song with a perfect title for 2007’s rainy summer, which, nevertheless, had an oddly stark and far-reaching sound for its time.
Two years on, her new LP nods towards adult material in its title as she comes of age, and also follows her assault earlier this year by ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, the results of which were shown in a horrific leaked photograph, the ghosts of which Rihanna works through here. She sounds bolder and braver as a consequence, pushing her strangeness as a pop star to the next level.
Mad House sets the album’s mood well, beginning like a dubstep track before a male voice cuts through the gloom: “Ladies and gentlemen – to those among you who are easily frightened we suggest you turn away now. To those of you who think they can take it, we say welcome.” Imagine Michael Jackson’s Thriller made terrifyingly modern, with Rihanna’s subsequent invitations – “come on, come on in” – both baiting and seducing her listeners.
As the album jabs and stutters onwards, her Barbadian vowels still conjure up the bluntness of reggae delivery, and continue to give her sound directness and edge. The sounds that surround it are more of a mixed bag, however – fantastic when they are icily futuristic on the dark electronica of G4L and Hard, less so on the Latin-flavoured trance of Te Amo, or Slash’s rock guitar theatrics on Rockstar 101.
Rated R’s lyrics are its calling cards, however, glowering darkly in songs like Fire Bomb, Russian Roulette and Cold Case Love. Many hint towards her relationship with Brown – “what you did to me was a crime”; “I cant wait to see your face when the front windows break”, ”all I’ve got are these photographs” – but they take them to the heights of grand, sci-fi cinema, with Rihanna turning into a revenge-hunting, firebrand diva. The stronger she sounds, the more it suits her, too.
Rihanna has achieved so much already, and this album suggests she will continue to do so in widescreen, and on her own terms.
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