The notion of Rihanna as impervious-both emotionally and career-wise-is central to her new album "Rated R," and her second single, "Hard," puts forth that message loud and clear. "They can say whatever/I'ma do whatever/No pain is forever/ Yup, you know this," the Barbadian singer boasts in a rap cadence over gurgling synths and antagonistic piano notes. "Tougher than a lion/Ain't no need in tryin'/I live where the sky ends." Rihanna effectively assumes the hip-hop posture and even recruits the ultimate street cred-booster in rapper Young Jeezy, who provides the thrust needed to send a song with a somewhat inert chorus home. Though "Hard" doesn't find Rihanna in her typical comfort zone, the atypical is precisely what she has aimed for with her new material-and it works.-Monica Herrera

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