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This is a deep dive into Rihanna’s ‘ANTI’, the Barbadian powerhouse’s eighth studio album, a shimmering confluence of reggae, R&B, pop, and dancehall – a mixed bag where Rihanna is unabashedly herself. A noteworthy departure from her previous works, ‘ANTI’ is a veritable explosion of bold experimentations, diverging creative directions, and a dexterous interplay of genres. The album is rich, filled with tracks that swell from the minimalistic to the grandiose, showcasing Rihanna’s ability to seamlessly switch between different musical styles.

From the opening notes of ‘Consideration’ to the sultry afterthoughts of ‘Sex With Me’, we’re treated to a lyrical narrative that’s as enigmatic as the artist herself, broaching a myriad of themes, from empowerment to vulnerability, love to lust, all wrapped in an unapologetic fierceness. We see Rihanna shifting gears from the heart-tugging ballad ‘Love On The Brain’ to the grit and grime of ‘Woo’, each tune a distinct slice of her artistic persona.

With ‘ANTI’, we find Rihanna unburdened by the expectations of pop music, using the album as a canvas to paint her own idiosyncratic soundscapes. More than another chart-topper, it’s a testament to her audacious artistry, pushing boundaries, defying conventions, and captivating with its raw and authentic candor. Rihanna proves that she isn’t just part of the pop music landscape; she’s a formidable force moulding it.

So let’s get into it. From ‘Consideration’ to ‘Sex With Me’, here are the Breaking down the Lyrics on ‘ANTI’ by ‘Rihanna’.

1. Consideration

Behind the alt-R&B soundscapes, RiRi fiercely demands respect and a chance to do things her way. She paints a vivid picture of a woman weary of expectation, tired of being constrained. As she asserts her independence, the lyrics evoke images of struggle, “I can’t get no peace of mind,” like the relentless pursuit of personal growth amidst societal noise. True to the spirit of ‘ANTI’, Rihanna flexes her power, offering icy empathy to the less fortunate, and covering everything ‘in glitter’ – a bold statement of her ability to transform and create. This audacious opening salvo sets a tone for the album; a declaration of Rihanna’s desire to break free from conformity and follow her path.

2. James Joint

The song literally lasts just a wee over one minute but is an unfiltered expression of RiRi’s rebellious, hedonistic spirit. The lyrics portray Rihanna as a free spirit that prefers the transgressive joys of smoking weed and challenging authority to the trappings of traditional romantic love. It seems that for her, the smoky aura of her joint and the adrenaline rush from breaking the rules offer a euphoric escape from the mundanity of emotional conformities. Emphasizing clues like “here come the police” and “live and love like ‘F- rules'”, it’s pretty clear that Rihanna is riffing about her noncompliance with societal norms, stereo-typically posited as law enforcement. Basically, “James Joint” serves as a blunt manifesto of Rihanna’s ‘I don’t give a damn’ attitude.

3. Kiss It Better

The lyrics serve as a stark exploration of the paradoxical complexity of love, where pain and pleasure coexist. Rihanna is craving for the ‘sunshine’ of stability and peace she once experienced with her lover, but their bouts of arguments seem inevitable, mirroring the weather’s capricious changes. Their love ‘feels like crack,’ suggesting an addictive, albeit damaging, relationship.

The recurring plea, ‘kiss it, kiss it better, baby’ oscillates between a sensual undertone and a desperate cry for healing. It implies both yearning for physical intimacy and a longing to mend a broken connection. The line ‘Man, fuck your pride’ projects a defiant Rihanna calling out her lover’s ego, while also exposing her vulnerability. The singer presents a raw, unfiltered portrayal of love’s torment and ecstasy, making “Kiss It Better” an anthem for tumultuous passion.

4. Work

The song alludes to the effort needed to maintain a relationship, the “work” that it takes to understand each other, to compromise, to mend the damages, and to keep the love alive. The repeated phrase, “work, work, work, work, work” works as an emotional leitmotif, symbolizing emotional toil and resilience towards sustaining relationships.

The lyrics fuse Rihanna’s native Bajan dialect with standard English, as she grapples with a lover who’s hard to pin down, and a relationship that’s even harder to define. There’s tension in the lyrics, a battle between needing to slow down yet urgently needing resolution. Rihanna is unapologetic in her fragility, revealing feelings of desperation, past regrets, and hope. The song beautifully articulates the complex dynamics of a difficult relationship and the emotional labor that goes unseen, the ‘work’ women often are left to do.

5. Desperado

Painting a landscape couched in dusky hues, Rihanna conjures the persona of a loner, a desperado, a character who seeks solace in solitude yet yearns for companionship. She’s caught between a desire to run away from love and the fear of being alone, a dichotomy that ultimately motivates the narrative of the song. The lyrics flirt with the paradoxes in human relationships – the security of knowing, the thrill of fleeing, and the dread of endearing loneliness. On a larger canvas, “Desperado” underlines the escapist tendencies within us, our shared love for the danger of being on the run, and the paradoxical need for being needed. Against the backdrop of an atmospheric production, Rihanna employs her voice as a powerful emotional instrument, embodying the fragility of the fraught yet eager desperado.

6. Woo

It’s a stark exploration of a toxic relationship that has run its course. The narrative in the lyrics lays bare a tale of a woman caught between desire and indifference, urging a former lover to reach out (‘send for me’) while simultaneously expressing her lack of emotional investment (‘I don’t even really care about you, no more’) – a convoluted emotion that resonates with anyone who’s been tangled in the web of complex relationships. Regardless of its disturbing complexity, the song is arranged in a way that keeps the listener hooked. This song is an ode to ambivalent feelings and the emotional whirlwind that often accompanies the end of a relationship. Rihanna’s smoky vocals perfectly embody the song’s raw and visceral narrative, making “Woo” an outstanding showcase of her lyrical prowess and emotional depth.

7. Needed Me

The Barbadian pop queen takes no prisoners, dismissing a lover who underestimated her as just another ‘nigga on the hit list.’ The raw, cutting lyrics are a firm assertion of her emotional autonomy, aligning with the self-empowered themes that dominate ‘ANTI’.

This track also speaks to the societal pressures women often face to be nurturing and selfless. She dismantles these stereotypes, trenchantly stating ‘Fuck your white horse and a carriage.’ Through these lyrics, she voices the sentiments of countless women who’ve had enough of one-sided relationships and toxic romanticism. Rihanna’s assured declaration ‘you needed me,’ not vice versa, is a stinging testament to her strength and independence, and a call-to-arms to all others in similar situations.

8. Yeah, I Said It

The lyrics underscore her assertive approach to intimacy, as she lays bare her desires, shunning inhibitions or societal dictums. The lines “Yeah, I said it, boy, get up inside it / I want you to homicide it” reflect Rihanna’s audacious take on sexuality. It’s feminist, raw and real. She continues to challenge traditional notions of relationships, as she casually discards the need for titles, asserting her autonomy. Reinforced by the phrase “Yeah, I said it, man, fuck a title,” she calls for an abandonment of normative labels. Through drawing a parallel between attraction and performance art in “Take it home on your camera phone”, she aligns love with spectacle. “Yeah, I Said It” puts Rihanna’s bold, liberated self-expression front and center, unmasking the discourse on contemporary romance in pop culture.

9. Same Ol’ Mistakes

Here, she grapples with the echoes of past mistakes, the tug-of-war between old habits and the desire for metamorphosis.

The lyrics convey a struggle of an inner duality, a dichotomy that depicts the constant battle between the self we present to the world and the persona that harbors our deepest insecurities. Rihanna paints a picture of her attempt to break free from the cyclic patterns of her past, seeking to transform into a “brand new person”. Yet, she’s cognizant of her inclination to fall back into “the same ol’ mistakes”. This dichotomy, this poignant dichotomy is the soul of the song.

The latter part of the song delves into the acceptance of one’s “demons and regrets”. It’s a commentary on navigating personal growth while reconciling with past missteps. The lyrics ‘Stop thinking you’re the only option’ is Rihanna’s powerful assertion to break free from the shackles of self-doubt and reclaim her narrative.

10. Never Ending

It’s a hauntingly beautiful ballad that delves into the labyrinth of love’s complexities. The lyrics paint a picture of a ghostly presence, a reminder of a love that once was crystal clear, but is now lost in the haze of time. This spectral metaphor embodies the lingering essence of a departed relationship.

Rihanna bares her soul, confessing the disorienting separation of soul and body as she struggles to mend from love’s damage. The lyrics echo a desperate yearning for connection, for the ability to feel alive through love once more. This is not a mere romantic tune; it is a raw exploration of the loneliness and alienation that accompanies damaged love and a crave for reconnection.

“Never Ending” is not simply a song. It’s a testament to Rihanna’s emotional range as an artist and her ability to express vulnerable feelings of longing, confusion, and the strange, yet intoxicating allure of falling in love again – no matter how strange it may feel.

11. Love On The Brain

This song sees RiRi venture into doo-wop with a heart-wrenching emotional performance. The track details the paradoxical torment and ecstasy of love, a sentiment that resonates immensely .

Rihanna’s vocal range is put on full display here, weaving through the visceral depiction of a rough and tumble romance. She speaks of a love so potent it’s like a punch to the gut, it ‘beats her black and blue’, but despite the pain, she is intoxicated by its sweet torture. The raw authenticity of the emotion backed up by a soulful melody fit for a smoky jazz club setting, makes this a fan favorite.

The lyrics pain a vivid picture of a love not just intense, but consuming and agonizing, yet utterly irresistible. Rihanna’s emotive power on this track serves as a stark reminder of her significant artistic depth she’s harnessed over the years, as she deftly navigates the complexities and contradictions of love and human emotion.

12. Higher

She uncorks her heart, letting loose a torrent of raw feelings in their purest form, untamed by the proper etiquette of love letters. The whiskey loosens her inhibitions, but it also acts as a truth serum, pulling out confessions that wouldn’t see the light of day in the sober morning. There aren’t any poetic lines here, just a raw, desperate plea to be loved. A fiery late-night call that balances on the knife-edge between romantic combustion and regretful hangover. Rihanna’s not just sending a drunken text; she’s opening her soul, laying bare a vulnerability that’s as intoxicating as the whiskey itself.

Rihanna’s vocal performance on “Higher” mirrors the lyric’s messy emotional state. It’s far from her cleanest vocal – but that’s the point. This isn’t about hitting perfect notes; it’s about hitting perfect emotions. And boy, does Rihanna hit them hard. As the track progresses, her voice cracks and splinters under the weight of her feelings, embodying the raw, vulnerable state of her heart. “Higher” is a love song, but it’s also a confession, a plea, and a testament to Rihanna’s ability to turn the messy, beautiful chaos of real feelings into pop gold.

13. Close To You

This track is Rihanna at her most raw and introspective, bypassing the bravado she often exudes. She portrays a tale of emotional intimacy, and a yearning to be there for someone who’s emotionally distant, possibly nursing a broken heart.

The essence of the song relates to constant concern, a fierce protective instinct flourishing out of love. She underscores her deep attachment, confessing to being helpless against her instinct to be the protector. The heartbreaking realization is that her significant other continues to pull away, maintaining an emotional barrier even as she seeks to get closer. This song highlights the complex paradoxes of love and affection, as Rihanna pours out her soul in a resonant mix of pop and soulful blues.

14. Goodnight Gotham

This daring track, embedded within the album ‘ANTI’, is a fascinating deconstruction of traditional song form. Dispensing with typical verse-chorus structure, it veers into the realm of the experimental, cloaked in the atmospheric brilliance of a city at night.

Lyrically sparse, the song primarily relies on a repeatedly chanted phrase: “Night, night, for a night”. This relentless repetition crafts an obsessive thrum, lending the track an almost hypnotic quality. There’s a profound sense of escapism here, embodying the ephemeral nature of city nightlife, the fleeting moments that come “only if for a night”.

“Goodnight Gotham” defies expectations. It delivers an auditory experience that encapsulates the chaotic beauty of nocturnal cityscapes. Rihanna crafts a world where the familiar becomes the surreal, something truly representative of her innovative and forward-thinking artistry.

15. Pose

The lyrics are a fierce declaration of self-worth, commanding attention and fearlessly celebrating success. Rihanna pulls no punches, directly addressing her haters and detractors, whilst remaining aloof and unbothered by their negativity. There’s an assertive energy in this track, as she dismisses any attempts to belittle her achievements. The intensity of the lyrics matches the addictive, high-octane rhythm of the song, making it yet another audacious statement from a pop icon who isn’t afraid to be unapologetic about her success.

Throughout the track, the Barbadian singer intertwines braggadocio with an invitation for her listeners to adopt the same assertive pose. She revels in her wealth and fame, sharply contrasting it to the ‘broke’ and ‘lame’ folks who are expected to simmer down in the face of her glow. “Pose” stands as an outstanding representative of Rihanna’s brand of defiantly empowered pop.

16. Sex With Me

The track juxtaposes a beguilingly lush soundscape with lyrics that are assertive and at times, audacious. Rihanna’s saucy, candid wordplay elevates the act of lovemaking from mere intimacy to a game of power and dominance, where she calls the shots. Her reference to ‘no vacation’ places an emphasis on her relentless work ethic, suggesting a life lived in the fast lane, filled with suitors, late nights, and Instagram indulgences. It also adds a layer of tantalizing temptation, which echoes through her plea to ‘stay up off’ her social media. As Rihanna reveals in lyrics like ‘Hit it like you own it,’ and ‘I’ma pick your poison,’ beneath the risqué songwriting lies an empowering testimony of female sexual autonomy. In ‘Sex With Me,’ Rihanna isn’t just reveling in the throes of lust, but declaring she’s the one in control. It’s not just a boudoir anthem, but a defiant celebration of hedonism and Rihanna’s ownership of her sexual prowess.