Rihanna masters art of ‘rih-invention’

By Managing Editor

After more than a year of Rihanna teasing her new album under the moniker “#R8,” it seems the singer’s eighth album can finally be expected soon.

On Oct. 8, Rihanna unveiled the cover art and title of her upcoming album, ANTI.

The art, created by artist Roy Nachum, features a photograph of a young Rihanna with a crown covering her eyes. Superimposed over the image is a poem by Chloe Mitchel written in Braille. It’s edgy, atmospheric and unlike anything previously released under Rihanna’s name.

It is hard to believe that Rihanna hasn’t released an album since her 2012 No. 1, Unapologetic. Since then, she has continued to score yet another No. 1 single featuring on Eminem’s “The Monster,” made headlines with her yellow, Guo Pei-designed gown she wore to the 2015 Met Gala, collaborated with River Island, voiced a character in the 2015 flick “Home” and launched campaigns with MAC Cosmetics, Dior and PUMA. She seems to be just as big a pop star now as she was at Unapologetic‘s peak—if not bigger.

In an always-evolving and highly competitive pop music scene, Rihanna has remained a constant. Other pop stars—including elite artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé—have struggled in their careers to maintain success and relevancy, but Rihanna has always come out on top.

At the 2013 American Music Awards, Rihanna was awarded the first-ever “AMA Icon Award.” When introducing the new award at the ceremony, Bill Maher named Rihanna “the voice of our generation”—a title most commonly used to describe Madonna during the peak of her career.

In July, the Recording Industry Association of America announced that Rihanna became the first artist to surpass 100 million gold and platinum song certifications and the artist with the most digital single awards. Needless to say, “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up.”

Rihanna’s biggest strength as an artist that allows her to maintain her global success is her versatility. Rihanna has a distinct voice that can span across nearly every genre—ranging from reggae to electronic, pop, R&B, hip-hop and even folk.

Rihanna is not afraid to experiment musically. Her first album, Music of the Sun, combined elements of reggae with pop and R&B, resulting in her breakout hit “Pon De Replay.” Since then, she’s experimented with pop-rock in Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R,  dance pop in Loud and contemporary R&B in her most recent release, Unapologetic.

The singer has undergone several reinventions throughout her career. She has been characterized as a girl next door, seductress, bad girl, crazed club-goer, business woman and much more—all within the first 10 years of her career.

It is apparent that Rihanna is on the verge of yet another major reinvention. In a March interview with MTV, Rihanna revealed she was getting bored with performing a lot of her older songs and added that she wants to release songs that feel “forever” and “timeless” for her eighth album.

While it is still unclear when ANTI will drop, early releases from the album “Four Five Seconds,” “American Oxygen” and “B—h Better Have My Money” all suggest that ANTI will be fresh and different from anything she has released before.