After months of silence and anticipation, Rihanna has finally set the stage for her upcoming eighth studio album. Wednesday night, the pop star hosted an unveiling of the album's title and cover art at Los Angeles' Mama Gallery. She also revealed five Braille poems that correspond to the album's inlays.
The album will be called Anti, and the Braille can be seen right on the album's cover. It was designed by Roy Nachum, an artist dedicated to exploring "the boundaries between visual and non-visual perception," according to his biography.
"This is the first time an album has ever incorporated physical Braille," Rihanna's team wrote in a press release, according to Pitchfork. "The Braille inscription will also allow people who are blind to experience an entire album by touch."
A single poem, divided into two parts, spreads across the covers. Written by Chloe Mitchell, a poet whose work has been heard previously on Kanye West's "The Blame Game," the poem reads:
"If They Let Us Part 1"
I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood.
It is simply because what I want to say,
what I need to say, won't be heard.
Heard in a way I so rightfully deserve.
What I choose to say is of so much substance
That people just won't understand the depth of my message.
So my voice is not my weakness,
It is the opposite of what others are afraid of.
"If They Let Us Part 2"
My voice is my suit and armor,
My shield, and all that I am.
I will comfortably breath in it, until I find the moment to be silent.
I live loudly in my mind, so many hours of the day.
The world is pin drop sound compared to the boom
That thumps and bumps against the walls of my cranium.
I live it and love it and despise it and I am entrapped in it.
So being misunderstood, I am not offended by the gesture, but honored.
If they let us...
Nachum painted four other pieces of art with oil and ash that will appear in the album's packaging. Three include poems; their titles and text can be read below.
"FIRE Part I"
Falling fast backwards into deep water.
As my eyes opened I knew that I was naked.
Floating on the waters surface.
Alone with the reflections of myself.
"FIRE Part II"
My face in deep shadows.
Dreams and ideas beyond limits.
The future is all I have to look forward to.
I turn myself inside out.
Only then am I whole.
"FIRE Part III"
Clouds replace the sunlight.
Expanding into the darkness.
The shoreline covered with night.
Deep breaths, salt air.
All the poems, and the album's cover especially, deepen a central theme of defying norms and expectations. Rihanna told us we should expect the unexpected with the album back in March in an interview with MTV.
"I wanted songs that I could perform in 15 years; I wanted an album that I could perform in 15 years," she told MTV. "I find that when I get on stage now, I don't want to perform a lot of my songs. They don't feel like me. So I want to make songs that are timeless."
With this packaging, she's setting herself up to go deep. The album still has no release date, but Rihanna's new announcements will continue to turn the anticipation dial all the way up to 11.