I’m trying to be patient. I really am. But it’s been two years since you released your last album, Unapologetic, and while that’s normal for most of your contemporaries, it’s very much not normal for you. You know that an album every two years isn’t enough to satisfy Rihanna’s Navy, which is why from 2009 through 2012 you released an album every single fall. That’s right: an album every fall for four years. And while I acknowledge that this trend would have been impossible to uphold throughout your career, it’s fall right now and winter is unfortunately almost here. There’s still time! I simply don’t know if I can make it to the new year without hearing new material from you.
While there have been a few worthy releases since we last heard from you, their ability to distract me from the elephant in the room (read: your absence from the radio) is wearing thin. Like, a guy can only listen to Beyoncé so many times before he needs something new to become the soundtrack to his life. T-Swift’s 1989 is addictingly perfect, but it’s not exactly made to be played in nightclubs or, well, bedrooms. In other words, music is in desperate need of your edge. For every “Shake It Off” and “Blank Space,” the world needs a “Rude Boy,” a “S&M” or a “Pour It Up.” In a world where “All About That Bass” can be in the Top 10 for over three months and an Iggy Azalea/Rita Ora duet can reach the Top Five, you know that something’s missing. And that something is you.
I admit that since you released Unapologetic you haven’t exactly fallen off the map. I indulged you when you wanted to try your hand at acting, but let’s just admit that “Battleship” wasn’t exactly your shining moment. “The Monster” was more than a worthy sequel to “Love The Way You Lie” and reminded us that your massive voice deserves a place on every rap song’s chorus, but it proved to be slightly forgettable as the year dredged on. Your breathtaking dress at the CFDA Awards was perhaps the red carpet moment of the year, but, if anything, it served as yet another reminder that we need more of that (excuse the pun) unapologetically outrageous Rihanna in our lives. Let’s not even get into your life-changing return to Instagram.
To make matters worse, the rumors of what you’re working on, how and when you’re planning on releasing it, and who you’re working with refuse to go away and, thus, make me that much more thirsty for new Rihanna realness. There’s that leaked tracklist, your use of the hashtag #R8 on Instagram, and the occasional slip-up from producers in interviews. People are saying you’re going to “Beyoncé” the album when we’re least expecting it. Yet, throughout it all, you’ve remained tight-lipped. Nothing has been confirmed and nothing has been denied.
A couple of weeks ago on Veteran’s Day, you performed at HBO’s “The Concert for Valor.” You wore a glimmering black tunic slash jumpsuit and your hair hung down to your waist as you slayed your way through a three-song set. During your chill-inducing rendition of “Stay,” you sounded downright legendary. As you left the stage and Eminem prompted the audience to “make some motherfucking noise for Rihanna,” you looked out on the crowd with a look in your eyes that seemed to tell us that we’ll be seeing you again very soon. You have something up your sleeve and, though it’s difficult not knowing when I’ll hear it, I know it’ll be well worth the wait. Top 40 radio needs to be shaken up a little bit. And you’re the only girl in the world for the job.