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.
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
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 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.
In June, Page Six wrote about Rihanna’s rumored issues creating a single: “Is Rihanna Struggling to Produce a Hit Song?” A source told the paper, “The singles haven’t caught on. She’ll be fine because she’s Rihanna—but it’s not a good thing that the songs haven’t stuck.”
Translation: Rihanna is still in the process of recording her album, which is perfectly fine.
The wait meanwhile spurred all sorts of unhinged headlines, including Cosmo’s “In Continued Excuses Why Rihanna’s New Album Is STILL Not Here, She’s Just Been Cast in a New Sci-Fi Movie.”
A November 6 date was tossed around, but again shot down (kind of like a man down). A source told Billboard the album still didn’t have a release date. And Rihanna revealed to NME in a cover story that the album wasn’t even finished. “It’s never done until it’s done,” she said, twisting the knife.
Weirdly, Rihanna’s dad Ronald did an interview with The Sun U.K. where he reportedly said his daughter is worried that the music isn’t ready:
“Robyn is not happy with the new album. She’s not comfortable with it. When she went over the songs she found all these little things she wanted to change and was worried about it. It’s a long process and isn’t easy. It’s been three years now since her last album and she wants this to blow everything else away, no competition, because she’s calling it her ‘first album.’”
This is the rumored new release date for ANTI. Continue to wait.
Billboard reports, via a source, that Rihanna is still stuck on choosing the perfect singles and is cancelling promo that was supposed to align with the album’s release (i.e. the Victoria’s Secret show):
...A source told Billboard last week that it’s in the works, though it hasn’t yet been finalized—Rihanna is reportedly lining up her own Samsung deal to the tune of $25 million for her album and subsequent world tour, which has apparently been held up due to changes to the final LP. There are streaming questions as well; Rihanna was one of the 16 artists announced as a co-owner of TIDAL, while Samsung has its own streaming service, Milk Music.
Ah, well there you go, Tidal is to blame for everything.
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