In the months (now more than a year) leading up to her eighth album, Rihanna has managed to twist everyone’s psyche in anticipation of its release. The latest word is that ANTI—a title she announced in October with a formal art unveiling—is coming out in December. Perhaps it is.
In one way or another, Kanye West, Travis Scott and Adele have all been blamed for the delay—Rih can’t sync up with Kanye’s schedule, she’s spending too much time with Travis Scott, and she doesn’t want to compete with Adele, say reports. There’ve also been rumors that Rihanna can’t quite make a hit-worthy single. But as always with major pop stars, it’s never one thing, and it could be all of these things. (This is exactly why Beyoncé keeps hush.)
Album timetables are always nefarious and now seem even more heightened by antsy social media, which fails to take into account all the music-business logistics that cause holdups. Popular demand has ignored Rihanna’s license to take her sweet queen time, and all these false alarms have taken a toll on the Navy’s frail hearts, leaving them more utterly depressed by the day. Here’s a brief history of all the Rihmergencies that came and went.
False Alarm #1: October/November/December 2014??
Publicly, there were signs that Rihanna was working on an album under Roc Nation as early as spring 2014. The fact that she started tweeting with the hashtag #R8 led us to believe the project might drop sometime in winter 2014, in line with her usual fourth-quarter release schedule. It was hard not to get excited when Rih tweeted things like:
We should’ve known then that this would take some time. This Billboard article starts out skeptically, with the lead: “Maybe!” Which is true. MAYBE.
Billboard, October 2014
Does This Tweet Mean New Rihanna Music is Coming?
At a meet-and-greet in Virginia that November (then two years after Unapologetic), Rihanna told fans, “I can’t give you any hints of when it will drop. It’s going to be great, that’s all I’m going to tell you and I’m excited about it.”
Rihanna also began teasing snippets of herself recording in the studio. I recall myself thinking, This album is coming soon, and thus preparing reinforcements.
Ne-Yo gracefully teased that, “The stuff I’ve heard is absolutely incredible” and advised us to “just gear up for it.”
Rihanna and others around her kept teasing (see: this Vulture timeline).
In a story about her “finally” setting a release date, MTV News wrote, “The wait is (maybe) almost over.”
Rihanna told Entertainment Tonight, “I’m really excited about the music that we’ve been working on, so I can’t wait for people to hear it” and said the album would be coming “very soon.”
Perez Hilton, October 2014
Rihanna’s Eighth Album Isn’t Coming Out As Soon As We Thought After All — What An ANTI-Climax!
False Alarm #2: February/March 2015???
Rihanna’s love-it-or-hate-it acoustic jam “FourFiveSeconds,” with Paul McCartney and Kanye, came and went at the top of the year without making much of a commercial impact.
Was Rihanna compelled to keep giving updates to stay in the mix? Was this all ad hoc? (Probably). She hinted at the album’s release again with this photo that made me grow out my eyebrows.