Rihanna New Album Review: Unapologetic Reflects Rihanna Musical Evolution

Rihanna isn’t back on the scene, she never left. The Barbadian pop star is out with her seventh studio album, just seven years after debuting with Music of the Sun in 2005. The new set, Unapologetic, comes after Rihanna reigned at number one for a self-record setting ten weeks with “We Found Love,” a single from her last album. Obviously, Rihanna is not leaving the scene anytime soon.

Unapologetic keeps with the theme of dance music Rihanna has been so happy to continue making. With hits like "Pon de Replay," "Umbrella," "Disturbia," "S&M," "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been," Rihanna has consistently put out dance, pop songs that sell like crazy. The new album has a few songs that have the potential to become other trademark Rihanna hits, but the presence of a new sound is noticeable. Dubstep, a type of electronic music, is becoming more and more popular as pop superstars incorporate the genre into their songs. In Unapologetic, Rihanna churns out tracks like “Right Now” (feat. David Guetta) and “Jump.” Both tracks include loud dubstep breakdowns. Ri isn’t a stranger to them though, with former "We Found Love" and "Where Have You Been" centering on dance breakdowns and catchy instrumentals after the choruses. Yet, the new dubstep presence in her music is notable.

Although Rihanna has experience with producing number ones, with a shocking eleven number ones on the Billboard Hot 100, Unapologetic might not be as successful in regards to the success of singles. “Diamonds,” the album’s lead single, has the most chance at success because it is a flawless song. Its anchor lyric, “shine bright like a diamond,” is uttered beautifully by Ri throughout the gloriously produced track. The style of her vocals echoing creates something that can only be done by Rihanna herself. But, “Diamonds” is one of the few songs on the album that sounds polished and is radio friendly. "Right Now" (feat. David Guetta) might be moderately successful as a single, but would probably quickly fade away like “Turn Me On” by Nicki Minaj and David Guetta because of the singles’ similarity. "Nobody’s Business" (feat. Chris Brown) will have some commercial success as a single because of its controversial nature too, but reaching the top five or even the top ten on the charts isn’t a sure thing. The only other track I see being potentially chart-topping is “What Now” for its classic Rihanna vocals and dance synths, even though the verses sound more like a ballad. 

Songs like “No Love Allowed” follow the trend of Rihanna including a reggae flare on her albums. Previous reggae-sounding songs include "You da One" and "Man Down." These songs offer up something fun and different from the Caribbean goddess, a good break from her infectious, but sometimes overplayed, dance hits. Rap has a strong presence on the album too, with Chris Brown and Eminem’s collaborations and Ri doing a little rap singing in songs like "Pour It Up" and "Phresh Out the Runway" that we love. With rap, reggae dance and ballads, Unapologetic doesn’t bring anything drastically different from Rihanna. That’s because it doesn’t have to. Although potential number one hits might not be as plentiful, the album is still going to successful. With Unapologetic, Rihanna continues to reign as one of pop music’s most dominant queens.