Fans of Rihanna, aka the Rihanna Navy, have been awaiting new music from the singer since she released her last album, Unapologetic, in November 2012.
The nearly three years it has been since RiRi’s last release is the first stretch of her career that she has strayed from her streak of annual album releases during 2005–2011, but hope is in sight for Rihanna’s Navy.
Aside from recently being featured on the song “FourFiveSeconds” with Kanye West—who is the executive producer of her next album—and Paul McCartney, which was released on Jan. 24, Rihanna is also responsible for the original 12-track concept album for “Home,” DreamWorks Animation’s upcoming animated film set to hit theaters on March 27.
On top of starring as the voice of Tip, one of the film’s protagonists, Rihanna is also already releasing new music, despite obviously being busy playing a lead role in a major film. She took to Instagram to tease her latest releases—“Towards the Sun,” off of the film soundtrack, “Higher” and “American Oxygen,” which will be featured on her own upcoming eighth studio album on March 5 and posted a teaser for the “Home” trailer that day.
The “Home” trailer also features the song, “Towards the Sun,” an upbeat track that was released on iTunes Feb. 24.
According to Rihanna’s Instagram posts, the “Home” soundtrack will be available on iTunes March 24, just three days before the film debuts in theaters everywhere.
Most people who hear that Rihanna is not only featured on the album but is also heading it as well as starring in the animated children’s movie are more than a little surprised.
For the last 10 years, Rihanna has been a symbol of sexuality, glamour and materialism—a very adult world to expose America’s youth to—but the soundtrack is upbeat and appropriate so far, and may even be the start of a new era for the pop star.
In contrast with the predicted mild-mannered but joyous “Home” soundtrack, Rihanna’s clips teasing songs from her upcoming album, R8, show some of the typical pop-feuled sexiness she strives for on “American Oxygen” while exploring a jazzy, sensual vibe on the track “Higher.”
The backing sound is far different from most of Rihanna’s previous releases—slow and seemingly lacking the overwhelming presence of auto-tune commonly found in her other pop or R&B tracks from her past albums.
“This whiskey got me feeling pretty/ So pardon if I’m impolite/ I just really need your a– with me,” RiRi sings on the first “Higher” clip posted to Instagram. “Higher, higher than I’ve ever been, babe/ Just come over, let’s pour a drink, babe/ I hope I ain’t calling you too late,” she croons, slow and steady.
While Rihanna’s Navy may have been lost without her typically ever-present nature in the music industry, it seems that after the last few years of quiet, Rihanna is coming back and will probably be better than ever before.
She is showing the world a new side of herself and her creative talents, and is flaunting what must have been a hidden knack for versatility.