The Grammy winner has not released an album since January 2016, when she dropped her magnum opus, Anti, which included the blockbuster singles “Work” featuring Drake, “Needed Me,” “Kiss It Better” and “Love on the Brain.” Since then, she has been teasing and teasing and teasing her next project, but other ventures namely her multimillion-dollar Fenty Beauty brand have delayed the process.
Album number 9, as fans have temporarily dubbed the album, has been in the works for nearly two years. Rihanna first confirmed that she was “in the studio and working on new music” in June 2018 while appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Even then, she stayed mum about the details, teasing, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
When asked for an update 15 months later, the Barbados native was equally tight-lipped. “Well, obviously, I’m a confident woman, so whatever I do, it’s gon’ be confident whether it’s the album, perfume, lingerie, makeup or fashion,” she told Entertainment Tonight. in September 2019. “Y’all gon’ have to wait, Navy. I’m so sorry.”
That said, not everything about the album has been top-secret. Rihanna confirmed that it is inspired by her reggae and dancehall roots, and Pharrell Williams and The-Dream are on the shortlist of producers helping her pull it all together. As for the release date, well, even RiRi has no idea.
The Sound Rihanna confirmed in her June 2018 Vogue cover story that she is making a reggae album, citing the late Bob Marley as her favorite artist of all time. She covered the magazine again in November 2019 and confirmed that she still had the same genre in mind: “I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album. It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks. …Reggae always feels right to me. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t matter how far or long removed I am from that culture, or the environment that I grew up in; it never leaves. It’s always the same high. Even though I’ve explored other genres of music, it was time to go back to something that I haven’t really homed in on completely for a body of work.” The Songs Rolling Stone reported in July 2018 that the artist has 500 songs to choose from, citing eight sources close to the project. Supa Dups, Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor and R. City are among the many producers who have submitted demos for consideration. The magazine also reported that Rihanna has considered dropping two albums: one pop and one reggae. The Collaborations Rihanna shot down rumors that the album has collaborations with her ex Drake and Lady Gaga. “I don’t see it happening. Not on this album, that’s for sure,” she told T: The New York Times Style Magazine in May 2019 of working with the rapper, with whom she previously recorded “Work,” “What’s My Name?” and “Take Care.” As for Mother Monster, she said, “It’s not in the books right now, but I’m not against it.” The Producers The businesswoman told The Cut in February 2020 that she was “going to be in the studio” on Valentine’s Day. “I’m so excited actually. I can’t say who I’m working with, but it’s somebody I’ve been wanting to work with him for a long time,” she teased. Then, with a laugh, she gave in: “OK, I’ll tell you. Pharrell.”
Rapper Haiti Babii and Jamaican singer Koffee have also worked on songs for #R9. “She was just basically saying, she was like, ‘I can feel the island in you. You just have so much soul,’” Babii told BET in May 2019 of how he came in contact with Rihanna. The Release Date Rihanna drove fans wild in December 2018 when she wrote in an Instagram comment that her next album was coming in “2019.” After the year came and went without any sign of new music, the entertainer took to Instagram once more to troll fans. She shared a video in December 2019 of a dog rocking out to House of Pain’s “Jump Around” with the caption, “Update: me listening to R9 by myself and refusing to release it.” She trolled the Rihanna Navy again in May 2020 when she joked in an Instagram comment that she “lost” the album.
Why It’s Taking So Long The hitmaker explained to her Ocean’s 8 costar Sarah Paulson in Interview magazine’s Summer 2019 issue that while she “used to be in the studio, only the studio, for three months straight,” she now balances “fashion one day, lingerie the next, beauty the next, then music the next.” She added, “It really does suck that it can’t just come out, because I’m working on a really fun one right now. I’m really happy with a lot of the material we have so far, but I am not going to put it out until it’s complete. It makes no sense to rush it, but I want it out. I’ve gotten to the point where I’m like, “Even if I don’t have the time to shoot videos, I’m going to put an album out.”
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