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Rihanna's 'Anti' Album Leaks: A First Listen
UPDATE: Rihanna's Anti has now been released.
It’s been a 24-hour whirlwind for Rihanna. Less than a day after Billboard broke the news that the pop star would most likely release her eighth album Anti this week, and the same day official single "Work" (featuring Drake) was released, the Roc Nation signee has sprung a leak.
The long-awaited album -- her first since Unapologetic was released in November 2012 -- hit file-sharing sites around 7 p.m. ET, shortly after streaming service Tidal allegedly uploaded the project in full before quickly taking it down. Users on social media posted brief snippets of individual tracks from the 13-song set before the full LP started making its rounds across the web.
The two featured artists listed on the track list include SZA, the alt-R&B singer signed to Top Dawg Entertainment, on opener "Consideration," as well as Drake on the aforementioned "Work," which shot to the top of the iTunes chart following its radio premiere at 8 a.m. Anti additionally touts a cover version of Tame Impala's "New Person, Same Old Mistakes," off their critically acclaimed 2015 album Currents, retitled "Same Ol' Mistakes." Previously released cuts include "James Joint," which Rihanna uploaded to her website on April 21, 2015, as well as a fuller, two-minute version of the lush "Higher," which was previewed in March 2015 as a snippet on her Instagram and written by Bibi Bourelly.
Only a few songwriting credits are readily apparent. “Love on the Brain,” a doo-wop-flavored track, was penned by Rihanna as well as Roc Nation’s Fred Ball and J Angel. Elsewhere, Roc Nation’s Chad Sabo writes alongside Rihanna on “Never Ending,” while PARTYNEXTDOOR, Sevn Thomas, Allen Ritter and Boi-1da joined forces for “Work.” Based on previous tweets from producer Glass John, he and Jeff Bhasker apparently co-wrote “Kiss It Better.”
Anti is typically diverse for Rihanna, who has blended dancehall, R&B, EDM and pop on previous releases. Few songs are guaranteed radio standouts -- it's clear that past collaborators like David Guetta and Dr. Luke don't have a fingerprint on the LP -- save for the DJ Mustard-produced "Needed Me," whose syrupy low-end could find a place on hip-hop stations, and "Kiss It Better," a midtempo anthem rife with electric guitars and a straight-ahead chorus. Elsewhere, "Close to You" is a piano ballad that could easily serve as the sequel to "Stay," though cuts like the industrial "Woo" and sparse "Yeah, I Said It" code more as filler than highlights.
The road to Anti has been long and rocky for Rihanna. Last year, she dropped a number of songs that were lead-ins to the album, including "FourFiveSeconds" featuring Kanye West and Paul McCartney, "American Oxygen" and "Bitch Better Have My Money," none of which appear on the final product. Though she hinted at its imminent release numerous times in interviews and on social media throughout the years, as well as suggested its impending arrival through a viral promotional campaign in partnership with Samsung, it wasn't until this week that the reality of its release set in, as she tweeted a photo with the caption "listening to ANTI."
Producer Glass John previously caused a stir at the end of 2015 when he took to Twitter on an extended rant about the album’s delay and how Rihanna’s alleged boyfriend Travi$ Scott was sabotaging the LP. “I’m fighting to get ‘Kiss It Better’ to the world… But Travis Scott has been delaying it,” he wrote, referring to a track that does appear on the leaked version of Anti. He claims that it was supposed to drop “on my birthday 11.6,” and in the extended rant, he said that Nicki Minaj might appear on it, though she’s nowhere to be found. “The album would’ve been out on Christmas if Travis hadn’t convinced Rihanna that wasn’t good enough,” he continued. “What has he produced to say this!!?!!! He’s wasting valuable studio time trying to come up with a song that can top ‘Kiss It Better’ and he cannot because it is the [best] damn song.”
Roc Nation has yet to respond to Billboard's request for comment confirming Anti's leak.
The purported track list for Rihanna's Anti:
1. Consideration (feat. SZA)
2. James Joint
3. Kiss It Better
4. Work (feat. Drake)
7. Needed Me
8. Yeah, I Said It
9. Same Ol' Mistakes
10. Never Ending
11. Love on the Brain
13. Close to You