Four years and 10 huge hits ago, Rihanna released an album called Good Girl Gone Bad. She’s never gone back. Today, Rihanna is pop’s bad-girl-in-chief. You could call her the heir to the blues tradition of double-entendre salaciousness, except that, in Rihanna’s songs, double-entendres are dispensed with. Come here, rude boy, boy, can you get it up? Chains and whips excite me. Innuendo? That’s so 20th century. Rihanna, the definitive 21st-century hitmaker, prefers to talk that talk.
Rihanna’s sixth album is her tightest, most assured yet – a relentlessly catchy and danceable pop album, with first-rate contributions from top songwriter-producers (The-Dream, No I.D., Dr. Luke, Stargate). It’s also Rihanna’s smuttiest record by far. It begins with “You Da One,” a chewy stick of bubblegum with a juicy center. (“Shouldn’t have hit it like that/Had me yelling like that,” Rihanna chides.) Elsewhere, the lyrics are several shades bluer. In “Cockiness (Love It),” Rihanna coos, moans and unleashes slick dancehall-style rapping over a refrain that minces no words: “I love it when you eat it. . . . Suck my cockiness/Lick my persuasion.” Once in a while she stops the sex talk to unleash an “Umbrella”-esque wide-angle-lens ballad. But usually love takes a backseat to more immediate gratifications. Bad Girl Gone Badder.
Listen to “You Da One”: