Talk That Talk hit stores November 21, making it the sixth studio album we’ve seen from Rihanna in six years. The busy Barbadian beauty has been touring in support of last year’s platinum-selling album, Loud for the past year, and released Talk while on the second European leg of her Loud tour. The album’s single, “We Found Love” has been No. 1 on the charts since it hit the airwaves and shows no sign of slowing down. The racy video features a strung out RiRi tearing up the town with a Chris Brown look alike. Thankfully, that’s about the only reference to her ex we see from this project. The rest is a welcomed departure from her darker days of Rated R.
The only feature on the project comes from Jay-Z on the album’s title track, where he spits a verse boasting about his bedroom skills and flying to Jamaica to get the best ganja. It’s a little unexpected from the Forbes cover boy, but it’s nice to be reminded that Hov isn’t always a big wig who’s too important to rap about sex and smoking weed. And while the note from the man who discovered her is a nice touch, it’s evident that Rihanna didn’t need any help making this record a winner.
The eleven-song album is heavy on the sex and love and light on the drama. She’s found her stride with her unique brand of pop/house/R&B and found songwriters who seem to get where she’s coming from. She can still throw a reggae vibe on a dance track and create something that works anywhere in the country. Her naughty lyrics are super sexual, but somehow she manages to deliver the devilish goods in a way that comes off as racy, not raunchy. She worked with an all star line up of song writers and producers including The Dream, Alex Da Kid, Stargate, and Dr. Luke among others to create a truly unique and cohesive product.
It’s hard to pick a stand out from the short list of strong tracks. “Where Have You Been” is a sure crowd pleaser and “Birthday Cake” is likely to become the new word for the female pleasure zone. Songs like “You Da One” and “ Drunk On Love” remind us that we’re all just out in the world, looking for someone to love. It’s a simple theme that permeates the album, and offers justification for some of the harder hitting tracks.
So far, critics have applauded the album that went head to head against another highly-anticipate Diva drop, Mary J. Blige’s My Life 2. While one would expect some competition, I think Rihanna’s appeal stretches much further than the realms of the urban crowd. Her fan base is clearly younger, and her delivery is too fun and fresh to be deterred by heart-wrenching ballads on the same subject. People Magazine called Talk That Talk “one of 2011’s best pop-diva statements,” while others call it her strongest project to date. In one of the most accurate reviews, Billboard calls the album, “a fleshed-out statement that captures Rihanna’s relentless drive and will likely keep her on top. This album’s not a victory lap; it’s a whole new race.”
Given the ease with which she transitioned from Loud to Talk That Talk, and the fact that there wasn’t one “skip” song on the album, I couldn’t agree more. Rihanna is on a whole new level without a rival in sight. The only question now, is where will she go from here?