Robyn Rihanna Fenty, world-wide success, seven-time Grammy Award winner with an overall 128 winnings from 389 nominations, five-time Guinness world record holder, co-owner of Tidal, humanitarian, etc.
She has released an album every year from 2005 to 2012 (excluding 2008), and each have gone platinum. She’s been down with one of the most solidified and respected record labels in the game, Roc Nation, since the beginning of her career and has consistently gotten better talent-wise, financially, and especially fashionably; she’s better than fine wine. After taking a four-year studio-album hiatus, the ANTI album was highly anticipated, although that’s an understatement. Not only were fans craving some new Rihanna, but her Samsung-sponsored virtual reality app–AntiDiary–prolonged the anxiety and excitement with the week by week virtual room tours containing mysterious promotional videos with the final room holding the key to a free download code for the first million fans to access the album via Tidal.
While the Samsung sponsorship seemed slow, delaying, and maybe even boring or uninteresting, the numbers don’t lie: Rihanna reached “platinum status”–although not officially recognized–in less than two days thanks to the fans who participated in the AntiDiary app. (It’s not technically considered platinum, because Samsung offered 1 million free album downloads to fans aka you can’t buy yourself platinum status). None of the above is the issue, however.
What I don’t understand is how someone so talented, creative, who is also working at a different level of maturity and knowledge can have such a sloppy/messy album release for one of the highest anticipated albums of the past four years, and everyone basically ignores it for the sake of art? Yes, messy roll outs and leaked albums are common and at this point expected. An album is supposed to come out tomorrow? I have three friends with a zip link right now and five more with it uploaded to their dropbox. Sure. Albums get leaked. Artists leak their own albums, cool.
This, however, is not just any artist and it isn’t just any release. It also wasn’t released with just any record label or platform to be exact. It was released with Tidal–the same company/streaming service, which I already mentioned she co-owns, that releases all of Beyonce’s work that… shocker, somehow never seems to get leaked.
How in the world did Tidal
leak “glitch” and somehow manage to give ANTI before it seemed to be ready for the world? Granted, my emotions were on 100 and I could not wait to get my hands on a copy so I could blast it through Sonos, Apple headphones, my television, Macbook, and virtually anywhere that could stream ANTI; however, I was confused that it was even released. The same album for which the single “Work” had just came out a day or two before…? (Which I was also a little annoyed they took the typical pop/Drake feature route as the “single”, but I can’t knock that prime marketing.)
“The roll-out was a bit messy, but fans and critics quickly forgot about how it arrived and instead, dived straight into the tunes,” wrote Mike Ayers with the WSJ… but, why? Why was everyone so quick to praise Rihanna’s ANTI and not question the messiness of it all? This wasn’t just some rap album that was announced within the same year. This wasn’t even an album that we were expecting, quite frankly. Sure, we’ve been waiting four years for some new Rih, but we never knew when we were going to get it until we basically got it. Similar to when you order a package from a store online and the box is all bent out of shape, indented in the corners, and half-assed wrapped. It just felt incomplete. The whole experience that comes with an anticipated album release was missing… Actually, it was ripped straight from our hands, so that package you ordered? Never mind – it got lost in transit and you basically got store credit for it.
Rihanna’s sound on ANTI is thee most eclectic, diverse, experimental and personally exploratory sounds she has ever had in her entire career. She’s fooled around with rock, soul, jazz, r&b, pop, etc. and has, quite frankly, killed every track on the album; from beginning to end, she takes us on not only a musical journey, but also an emotional one filled with catharsis, understanding, acknowledgement and curiosity. It’s the first album, where it actually sounds like she’s doing exactly what she wants: not sticking to the script and making one sound, being bold and confident enough with herself to include any track that she wanted or thought would be the best fit. There seems to be no set theme aside from maturity, confidence and growth, and it’s every and anything I could have wanted from Rihanna (considering I waited so damn long).
Now, this messiness isn’t always bad thing, necessarily. What makes it such a big deal (or at least why it should be such a big deal) is the fact that Tidal is the cause of the messiness, yet the same cannot be said for Beyonce, who by the way released a new video… out of nowhere… with no word… no promotion… no leaks… nothing… rapidly following the release of ANTI. In fact, ANTI hasn’t even been out for a full week.”
Now, you might be thinking to yourself that I’m bringing up Beyonce for no reason except to pit the two against each other. Wrong. It seems that the media always wants to pit them against each other. Why did Beyonce’s video have to come out before the Superbowl? Couldn’t it have been premiered after the Superbowl? Did the video really need to be released on the Internet so quickly? If it wasn’t so “sporadic” as it seemed, then why was it planned so close to her (for common understanding) teammate’s date? These questions will not be answered; however, they need to be asked. It’s odd and baffling as to why the media (and questionably, Roc Nation/Tidal) DOES pit them against each other constantly around release dates; but, this will lead to another story for another time.
I’m simply using Beyonce and her huge success, that is deserved and earned, that manages to stay under wraps no matter what as an example. Whether released through Tidal or not, you will not hear a peep about Beyonce’s work, and that’s amazing. Meanwhile, Rihanna, who works with the same team and deserves the same treatment, gets the messy roll out for her highly-anticipated album that reached hundreds of millions of people within 48 hours. Rihanna gets all of the tweets and memes that make fun of the fact that Beyonce came in and “showed who is Queen B”, that Beyonce “stood her ground and reminded people who’s the boss”, etc. etc. etc. Of course, Rihanna’s success is not being affected and her pockets are probably just as plump as they were before this messy situation. She’s still Rihanna and her album is still an amazing body of art.
I just want to know when will the industry respect Rihanna as much as her fans do?