Rihanna spoiled us. By releasing four albums in four consecutive Novembers from 2009-2012, the music superstar packed year after year with radio heat until taking two fourth quarters off, and making us realize how much we had taken her combustible dance-pop for granted. Earlier this year, Rih ended her Top 40 abdication with "FourFiveSeconds," a stripped-down collaboration with Kanye West and Paul McCartney; while her vulnerable vocal take was more than welcome on radio and that melody was enough to make the song a smash, the song lacked movement, and movement is an effect one can reasonably expect from a Rihanna single. With respect to "FourFiveSeconds," the world craved the feeling of throbbing euphoria that Rihanna has delivered consistently for years; we, as a society, yearned for another "We Found Love," "Umbrella," "Only Girl (In The World)" or "Rude Boy."
Is "Bitch Better Have My Money" a rightful successor to those songs? Not quite -- the uptempo new single, presumably previewing Rihanna's eighth studio album, is more akin to a brash trap track like "Pour It Up," with Rih sneering at her subjects while exerting her personal opulence over a beat designed for grinding. "Bitch Better Have My Money" is certainly angrier than Rihanna's usual oeuvre, with the singer punctuating her declarations of "Every time I drop by, I'm the only thing y'all playing" and "Don't act like you forgot, I call the shots" with machine-gun ad-libs. One can imagine Rihanna listening to Beyonce's "Flawless" on repeat and finding inspiration for this single in Queen Bey's exuberant cockiness; as much as Rih wants her money, she wants everyone else to bow down, too.
"Bitch Better Have My Money" is designed to make clubs rumble and arenas explode, and will successfully do so over the next year and beyond. A more imaginative hook would have been nice, but Rihanna is not playing nice here. One month after performing a folk-pop song at the Grammys and one day before an animated family film starring her voice opens worldwide, Rih is re-asserting (Rih-asserting?) through this grimy, expletive-laden bop that she is impossible to pigeonhole. Although "Bitch Better Have My Money" falls short of her best singles, the song confirms that Rihanna is no slave to expectations. After years of spoiling us, Rihanna sounds like she's out to get hers, and is taking whoever wants to join the party with her.