Wednesday was a hectic day for the music world.
In between Wiz Khalifa, Kanye West, and Amber Rose’s twitter fight, Rihanna’s next album, Anti, was somehow uploaded and ripped from Tidal a few days before the expected weekend release. After the official release of the single, “Work”, feat. Drake, the entire track-list, and eventually album, was available for fans to download. This event brings up some questions about how we download and listen to music, and what it means when we participate in listening to leaks of tracks or albums. In any case, 4 years after Unapologetic, the music world finally has a new Rihanna album to enjoy! Now, we just need that Frank Ocean album…
“Work” was released on Wednesday morning as the lead single from Anti. Later that day, a leak of the full track-list appeared on the Internet, quickly followed by the news that the album was “accidentally” uploaded to Tidal. As the Internet does, someone swiftly ripped the album and posted the link online, leaking the entire album a mere couple of days before its anticipated, official release. Finally, probably in response to the leaking of the album, Rihanna went to her Instagram to offer her followers and fans a free download of Anti (through Tidal), with the use of a special code. Using the code with the link she provided, sent a download of the album, as well as a 60 day trial of Tidal’s services, to your email.
Overall, Anti seems like Rihanna showing off a harder, grittier, and more vocally powerful side of herself. Although the album wasn’t too hyped up leading to its release, there was still an expectation for her to show this darker, sexier side, especially after “B*tch Better Have My Money”. The album is more or less half complex, dirty, hip-hop like bangers and half slowed down, acoustic, emotional ballads. The whole album is somewhat about love, just in mentioned in variety ways. One of the standouts from the album is Rihanna’s cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes”. In her rendition, entitled “Same Ol’ Mistakes”, Tame Impala has said that they were “really happy with how it turned out”; showing a cool crossover of two very talented, yet very different, musicians. Other hits on the album come with the two featured tracks- “Consideration” featuring SZA and “Work” with Drake. Though there’s only two features, they’re really popular artists, and both tracks turned out really well.
Anti is another step in Rihanna’s definition of herself, and is definitely worth listening to- whether you decide to pay for it, or, use a backchannel and download it to listen to for free is completely up to you. I think most of the tracks on Anti are standalone songs, and the entire album flows together pretty well.
With Anti being released through a leak before it’s planned release date, along with the general trends of music listening today, questions about our preference for free downloading are raised. We all “know” that piracy is illegal– you aren’t supposed to download an artist’s work for free through unofficial channels, like website links. Though it’s illegal, most of us do it. It’s sort of just become the way things go, but is that ok? Are we expecting too much out of the people creating the music we listen to, soundtrack our parties to, and dance to? What kind of musician does illegal downloading affect? Rihanna is notoriously one of the top pop singers today, and she does not write her own music. Is downloading Anti for free different from downloading an album from an independent or less commercial artist for free? It comes down to money, and the way we have begun to think about compensation for music. We’ve seen national news stories about Taylor Swift’s feud with Spotify regarding this very issue of compensation. Clearly, free downloading or streaming is something that is very relevant to our culture today, and with the leak of Anti, it seems like it’s a debate we’ll be discussing for some time.
While I listened to the album for the first time, through the Tidal download (thanks, RiRi), I did quick “reviews” of each of the songs. So, if you’re interested, check out my thoughts on Anti!
“Consideration” w/ SZA: Two awesome female singers, catchy song.
“James Joint”: A slow love song (to weed).
“Kiss It Better”: A love jam about getting back with someone.
“Work” w/ Drake: Carribean-esque groovy single for album; it’s good for the radio, but also on its own.
“Desperado”: It’s more slowed down & grittier- “i dont wanna be alone” is the end of the chorus. Good driving song (which is ironic).
“Woo”: Kinda wraps up the sound of the album- harder, dirtier, rougher Rihanna than before.
“Needed Me”: producer DJ Mustard shows off vocal talent w/ a really good beat.
“Yeah, I Said It”: A slow and sexy track
“Same Ol’ Mistakes”: Tame Impala cover (New Person, Same Old Mistakes) -amazing!
“Never Ending”: Acoustic, more stripped down than rest of album.
“Love On The Brain”: Even more classic love song- kind of like bluesy, “crybaby” like?
“Higher”: It’s strong and raw, but a love song at the same time- we get to hear the emotional side of Rihanna.
“Close To You”: Rihanna singing a ballad accompanied by a piano.