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Born and raised in Barbados, Rihanna exploded onto the global scene with “Pon de Replay” from her debut album “Music of the Sun,” setting the stage for a career teeming with explosive hits, artistic exploration, and genre-blurring songs. From tropical-infused pop, heart-wrenching ballads to raunchy dance tracks, Rihanna’s albums are a masterclass in stylistic versatility, bridging pop, R&B, reggae, dance, and beyond.

The album that exhibits this impressive chameleon-like adaptability was “Rated R”, where listeners get to witness her exploration of darker themes and heavier soundscapes. She further pushed boundaries with “Loud” and its Japan Version, sizzling up the charts with a blend of steamy, provocative club bangers and soul-baring anthems.

“Good Girl Gone Bad” reaffirmed Rihanna’s seat at pop’s high table. Whether it’s the infectious hooks of “Umbrella,” or the heartrending honesty of “Rehab,” Rihanna displayed an ability to inject depth and personality into pop music that few others could match.

However, it was with “ANTI” that Rihanna shattered all expectations. It was a rebellious departure from her mainstream pop past, an unshackling of sorts that unveiled her most artistically daring side. The album sits at the zenith of her discography, both musically and critically. Equally compelling are “Talk That Talk” (and its Deluxe Explicit version) and “Unapologetic” (and its Deluxe version), which mark poignant moments in her career, still resonating with listeners years after their release.

So let’s get into it. From “Music of The Sun” to “ANTI”, here are all of Rihanna’s albums ranked.

8. Talk That Talk

Talk That Talk (Explicit)

Released: 2011

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: Calvin Harris, JAY-Z

The Barbadian sensation didn’t just talk the talk; she walked the walk, oozing braggadocio and sexual confidence in this audacious sonic exploration. This is Rihanna in full pop mode, sprinkling Caribbean flavors atop mainstream beats. Calvin Harris-produced “We Found Love” stole the show, ruling charts and clubs the world over, and became a signature RiRi anthem. But we also got gems like “You Da One” and the pulsating “Where Have You Been” — a testament to Rihanna’s knack for earworms. Jay-Z popped in on the title track, adding a rap titan’s weight to an album already packed with pop might. The explicit version served up even more candidness, embracing all the rawness and rebellious energy Rihanna embodies. With “Talk That Talk,” Rihanna stamped her mark on the pop music landscape, delivering an album that is as relevant, defiant, and influential today as it was at its release.

7. Unapologetic

Unapologetic

Released: 2012

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: Eminem, Future, David Guetta, Mikky Ekko, Chris Brown

This album didn’t just test the waters, it dove headfirst into the deep end. Unapologetic indeed, the album was a defining chapter in Rihanna’s career transforming her from a pop starlet into a full-fledged icon. Tracks like the infectiously anthemic and heartfelt “Diamonds”, the mic-drop moment of “Pour It Up”, and the sultry “Stay” demonstrated her stylistic versatility. The album, serving as a raw and unfiltered introspection of RiRi’s love life, was surrounded by swirling rumors of her on-again-off-again relationship with Chris Brown, especially with the inclusion of “Nobody’s Business” – a duet so on-the-nose it was practically punching. While dispensing barbed lyrical missives in a stream-of-consciousness flourish, she was supported by an all-star squad of producers like David Guetta, Stargate, and Benny Blanco. With “Unapologetic”, Rihanna owned pop music in her own rebellious and fiercely idiosyncratic way.

6. A Girl Like Me

A Girl Like Me

Released: 2006

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: Dwane Husbands, Sean Paul, J-Status, Cory Gunz

Strutting in after her debut, this album was where she really started to flex her versatility. The stunner “SOS,” a tantalizing pop-dance juggernaut, took the Billboard Hot 100 by storm, sealing its spot at numero uno. Meanwhile, tracks like “Unfaithful” took a different route, offering a haunting ballad that showcased her emotional depth. Let’s not forget “Break It Off” where she served us breezy dancehall vibes alongside Sean Paul, proving her ability to nail diverse genres. Besides these chart-toppers, the record was speckled with heart-tugging ballads and sultry R&B numbers, creating a wholesome pop package. Thanks to “A Girl Like Me” RiRi was no longer a promising upstart, she became a serious contender, her talent parading itself on the global stage. This album undeniably elevated the Barbadian star’s status in the constellation of pop music.

5. Rated R

Rated R

Released: 2009

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: Jeezy, Slash, will.i.am

With this 2009 release, she pushed the pop envelope into shadowy corners, exploring themes of struggle, resilience, and raw emotion that the sunny realms of the genre often shy away from. The cataclysmic lead single “Russian Roulette”, is a stark meditation on the risky stakes of love. On other tracks, she is fiery and combative, guns blazing on “Hard” and defiantly triumphant on “Rude Boy”. But there’s also a vulnerable side to this record, heard on the poignant “Cold Case Love” and the introspective “Photographs”. The variety in “Rated R” is a testament to Rihanna’s versality; she’s as convincing playing the badass as she is the heartbroken lover. Part catharsis, part reinvention, “Rated R” stands as a resilient chapter in Rihanna’s discography, one where she expertly walks the tightrope between radical exploration and mainstream appeal.

4. Music Of The Sun

Music Of The Sun

Released: 2005

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: J-Status, Vybz Kartel, Kardinal Offishall, Elephant Man

Hailing from the sunny climes of Barbados, Rihanna ladled heaps of her island’s vibe into this debut album. Tracks like “Pon de Replay” and “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)” showcased her crisp, honeyed vocals, her knack for pop hooks, and her infectious dancehall rhythms, and provided a flavor of the Caribbean’s sun-drenched musical culture to a global audience. The album, while not her most polished work, was certainly influential, signaling the arrival of a new pop princess. It charted high, reaching #10 on the US Billboard 200, and set the stage for Rihanna’s subsequent domination of the pop landscape. A blend of R&B, reggae, and pop, “Music Of The Sun” underscores the importance of cultural roots in pop’s evolution. It was an auspicious beginning to a career that would reshape and redefine pop music.

3. Loud

Loud

Released: 2010

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: Drake, Nicki Minaj, Eminem

Serving up hits like the Calvin Harris-produced “We Found Love”—a euphoric EDM smash that stormed the charts— and the sensual “S&M,” which played coy with double entendre, “Loud” was a banger festival. The reggae-inflected “Man Down” saw RiRi tap into her Barbadian roots while “Raining Men,” a collaboration with Nicki Minaj, saw the titanesses of pop going toe to toe. But in the midst of the dancefloor anthems and radio-ready bops, Rihanna also showed vulnerability – the wounded ballad “California King Bed” laid bare the aching desolation of distance in love. Following the darker and introspective “Rated R,” “Loud” marked a return to Rihanna’s pop sensibilities and established her as a doyenne of the genre. It’s a relentless, thrilling album, a testament to Rihanna’s ability to churn out hit after hit while remaining firmly in control of her artistic direction.

2. Good Girl Gone Bad

Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded

Released: 2007

Label: Def Jam Recordings

Features: JAY-Z, Ne-Yo, Maroon 5

Released in 2007, the album is a searing tapestry of club bangers and intimate ballads, underpinned by swagger and a dare-you-to-look-away confidence. Notable hits “Take a Bow” and “Disturbia” are built upon a faultlessly pop framework, but it’s the once-in-a-generation smash “Umbrella” that truly anchors the album, a testament to Rihanna’s irresistible allure. Yet it’s worth delving into the album’s less-charted territory. On “Sell Me Candy”, she unfurls lovestruck lyrics over a funky beat and on “Rehab”, she taps into raw vulnerability with soulful vigor. One can argue that “Reloaded” captures a transformative moment in Rihanna’s career, a glistening creative leap that cemented her status as a pop music juggernaut. Overall, this album encapsulates a decisive moment in pop culture, when Rihanna forcefully grabbed the steering wheel and hasn’t let go since.

1. ANTI

ANTI (Deluxe)

Released: 2016

Label: Roc Nation / Rihanna

Features: SZA, Drake

A bold divergence from the more conventional pop structure, the album is a magnificent cornucopia of the unconventional; it’s here where RiRi’s distinct voice is intertwined with intricate experimental production. Changing lanes from radio-friendly pop tracks, Rihanna dives into a mix of lo-fi vibes, pitch-black ballads, and envelope-pushing R&B. The album includes the hit “Work,” a hypnotic Island-pop duet with Drake, and “Needed Me,” a DJ Mustard-produced anthem that showcases Rihanna’s simultaneous blend of vulnerability and strength. A testament to the artist she has become, “ANTI” reached number 1 on the US Billboard 200 and earned double platinum status. This wasn’t just an album; it was a statement – a defiant rejection of expectations and an embrace of an edgy, less polished persona – making it one of the most impactful pop albums of the decade.