Let’s just get this off our chests – What’s up with Rihanna?

Perhaps most well-known for her breakout track “Umbrella” featuring music mogul/rapper Jay Z, the Barbadian singer has released an album almost every year from 2005 to 2012, save for 2008 when her label was still milking a reissue and a remix album (“Rih-mix”?) from that extra-generous cash cow that was her major label debut “Good Girl Gone Bad“.

But the tempo at Rih’s camp has literally slowed down considerably since her last release. 2012’s “Unapologetic” saw hints of a new direction in music, most notably in the early singles like “Diamond” and “Stay“. Note: The later singles were “unapologetic” all right… unapologetically bad.

So, is it true? Are the days of “SOS“, “Shut Up And Drive“, “Don’t Stop The Music“, “Disturbia“, “Rude Boy“, “Only Girl (In The World)“, “S&M“, /pauses for breath/ “We Found Love“, “Where Have You Been” +++ finally OVER?! Her track record as a bona fide hit-maker is blatantly obvious, so why would Rihanna want to tamper with this tried-and-tested formula? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, right?

Well, wrong. Rih-gardless of how many Top 10 singles she’s had, the 27-year-old has revealed in an interview with MTV that she’s not that thrilled of her own past material and doesn’t “feel like performing her own songs” because “they don’t feel like me“.

Now, aside from that fact that that’s the whole point of holding live concerts, don’t you think Mariah Carey‘s doing internal eyerolls while smiling through “All I Want For Christmas Is You” every bloody holiday season? Either way, Rih has announced that the upcoming #R8 will have a “timeless” sound, concerning itself with “things that felt real, that felt soulful, that felt forever… songs that I could perform in 15 years“. Again, back to that Mariah Carey jingle… be careful what you wish for.

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But beyond how herculian that challenge is, the first single off #R8 seems to have pulled that off pretty well. “FourFiveSeconds” was visually and sonically understated; the second blow to Rihanna’s hard, hyper-produced dancefloor image since “Stay”.

But the choice of featured artists on the lead single is rather telling. Is Rihanna herself not confident of this stripped-down image? Kanye West is on the track probably because he has a hand in producing the entire album. Having British newcomer Sir Paul McCartney on the track is a nice touch, though having him only on guitar seems like a huge waste. Kinda like going to McDonald’s for a salad, you feel?

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And then there’s this whole rumour that Rihanna is waiting for Kanye to drop his album (currently) titled “SWISH” because – surprise, surprise – West’s creative agency accidentally leaked the logo of their collab tour. Someone’s getting fired

But promotion for this track has been messy, with her team seemingly “dumping” the song immediately after the Grammy performance and moving on to the next single instead. Meanwhile, Rihanna’s still busy with one magazine shoot after another, though she’s keeping suspiciously mum about the album as a whole (which then begs the question: why is she even giving interviews for something that doesn’t exist yet?!).

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Enter the mess that is “BBHMM” or “Bitch Better Have My Money”. Cool album cover, sure; but just like Beyoncé‘s “7/11“, this is a hype track and nothing more.

This trash-talking track goes nowhere near as hard as 2011’s “Cockiness (Love It)“. Good thing her team decided to nix this as quickly as they did for the previous track.

Ironically, the release of the third single/track/accidental studio session (does anyone even know anymore) “American Oxygen” left me gasping for air. I mean, gimme some space. “BBHMM” was released just less than three weeks before. What is her marketing team doing?!

Fast forward a month and we’re now here in mid-May. While other contemporaries are raring to go – all vying to land a smash during the lucrative summer season – Rihanna decides to nope her way out of the entire rat race by staying mum throughout. We’ve literally got nothing for an entire month save for that omelette she wore to the Met Gala.

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So what’s up next for Rihanna’s career? Is this the beginning of the end for one of pop’s biggest divas? Or is this the start of something new for RiRi, something her grandkids will be begging for her to perform at their annual family gatherings in the 2040s? I guess we’ll just have to rih-sist the urge to send her angry tweets every hour demanding for #R8 right now, and wait for the official rih-lease. No worries about that; I’m sure it’ll be rih-warding.

P.S. I sincerely apologise for every rih-diculous pun I made. Or maybe not.

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Lose control and send Rihanna angry tweets demanding #R8 here. Get your point across by commenting the same angry messages on her Instagram here. Realise she is an unstoppable queen who is probably not going to listen to your puny demands by viewing her rih-laxing life on Snapchat @ “Rihanna”.

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