A Girl Like Me is Rihanna's second studio album that was released on April 10, 2006 by Def Jam Recordings.
- SOS 4:00
- Kisses Don't Lie 3:53
- Unfaithful 3:49
- We Ride 3:57
- Dem Haters (featuring Dwane Husbands) 4:19
- Final Goodbye 3:14
- Break It Off (featuring Sean Paul) 3:34
- Crazy Little Thing Called Love (featuring J-Status) 3:24
- Selfish Girl 3:38
- P.S. (I'm Still Not Over You) 4:11
- A Girl Like Me 4:18
- A Million Miles Away 4:12
When discussing the conception for her second studio album with L.A. Reid, Rihanna talked about experimenting with different music by incorporating some rock on the album.
In February 2006, Rihanna announced that she was going to release her second studio album in April 2006 under the name "A Girl like Me."
When asked about the album in an interview with MTV News, Rihanna stated: "Vocally I've matured so much, and lyrically I'm speaking about stuff I would never sing about [before]. Now I'm singing about experiences that I've gone through and stuff that other 18-year-old girls go through, so it's all about progression."
In regards to the title of the album, Rihanna explained: "It's called A Girl like Me because it's a very personal album, it's my baby. It's all about what it's like to be a girl like me, speaking of personal experiences as well as things that girls like me have gone through."
For writing and production of "A Girl like Me," Rihanna teamed up once again with record producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who produced most of the tracks on her previous album, J. R. Rotem and Norwegian production duo StarGate.
While recording the track "If It's Lovin' That You Want" for her debut album, Rihanna received a visit from American singer Ne-Yo, in which they met for the first time, although they never got the chance to collaborate on "Music of the Sun."
When production started, she came up with the idea of working with Ne-Yo. When asked about collaborating with Ne-Yo, Rihanna stated: "We never got around to it on the first album. So for the second album, I was like, 'You know what? I have to work with that guy Ne-Yo.' And it made it a lot easier because he's on the same label I am."
For the album, Rihanna also worked with Jamaican reggae and dancehall artist Sean Paul on the track "Break It Off", which was recorded in Paul's hometown of Kingston, Jamaica.
While working on the album, Rihanna not only recorded songs but also promoted "Music of the Sun" as well. She commented: "We were so busy promoting the first album while trying to get this one done, working some crazy hours. That's why this album is so close to me, 'cause I really put my heart and soul into it."
"SOS" was the first recorded track for the album, a song which was originally intended for Christina Milian's third studio album "So Amazin'"; however, she rejected it. L.A. Reid had Rihanna in mind as the next artist to record the song.
The song was recorded within three days and eventually later released as the lead single from A Girl like Me.
"Kisses Don't Lie" was penned and produced by Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken and it was one of the three songs on the album on which Rihanna received writing credit. The song was written and recorded in Barbados, and was described by Rihanna as mashed up rock and reggae.
In the song "Unfaithful", penned by Ne-Yo, Rihanna wanted to speak about personal things that girls her age at the time were experiencing, which was inspired by the album's title and according to her it is one of her favorite songs on the album.
"We Ride" was written and produced by StarGate, who also produced and co-wrote "Unfaithful".
For the song "Break It Off", which features Jamaican artist Sean Paul, Rihanna flew down to Jamaica to record the song. The song was written by Donovan Bennet and it was co-written by Sean Paul and Rihanna herself.
The album's closing tracks were written by Rogers, Sturken and Rihanna, who co-wrote the album's title track "A Girl like Me". Rogers and Sturken produced and wrote eight of the album's sixteen tracks.
Musically, "A Girl like Me" reveals new types of musical genres compared to Rihanna's light and uptempo debut album. Her goal on the album was to find songs that express the many things young women want to say, but might not know how.
In an interview, Rihanna said: "Now I'm singing about experiences that I've gone through and stuff that other 18-year-old girls go through, so it's all about progression."
Reggae music (which was present in her debut album) subsequently continues into A Girl like Me.
For the album, Rihanna used influences of different music genres, including rock music, while keeping the reggae and dancehall roots of her previous album. The new effort also presents Rihanna's new side with some balladic elements.
Although the album mostly follows the disco-ish mode of its predecessor, it was noted for its introduction of the rock genre to Rihanna's music, mostly represented by the rock and reggae mash-up "Kisses Don't Lie", though Rihanna herself stated that the album is not overall driven by rock influence.
In an interview, Rihanna commented: "Growing up in Barbados, I wasn't exposed to a lot of rock music. We really love reggae and soca music and hip-hop. But when I moved to the United States last year, I was exposed to a lot of different types of music, rock being one of them, and I fell in love with it. [Now] I love rock music."
Celia SanMiguel of Vibe magazine wrote that "A Girl like Me" is "a pop album, one informed but not bounded by Rihanna's Caribbean roots" and that it "dispels any lingering notions of her as a dancehall-meets-R&B ambassador."
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine called the album "a record that almost identically" veered between "sunny dancehall/dub-pop", "hip-hop-infused club bangers", and "adult-oriented ballads."
Lyrically, the album's theme speaks of girls' experiences. It was widely addressed a personal album, speaking about what it is like to be "a girl like me", things that girls Rihanna's age at the time were going through—as well as every aspect of her life: people being cheated on, falling in and out of love, people hating on you, having feelings towards a guy and partying.
"SOS" tells about a guy who gives the girl a feeling that is very overwhelming—he drives the girl crazy, and she needs someone to rescue her from it.
"Kisses Don't Lie" talks about a girl who's in love with a guy but is stuck between an ultimatum because she's afraid of getting hurt.
"Unfaithful" documents the decay of a relationship when another person starts cheating.
According to Rihanna, "I'm referred to as a murderer in that song, meaning I'm taking this guy's life by hurting him, cheating on him. He knows, and it makes him feel so bad. It's killing him to know that another guy is making me happy."
"We Ride" talks about how a guy promises a girl that they will be together forever, while the girl describes moments which he did things that could tear them apart.
The lyrics of "Dem Haters" portray a message about how "haters" try to bring people down and recommends excluding them from your life.
"Final Goodbye" talks about a woman who wants to spend the rest of her life with a man, but feels that she needs to reveal a secret before moving on.
"Crazy Little Thing Called Love" continues the theme of love in a similar vein to "SOS", however, "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" portrays a message about being in love, whereas "SOS" talks about having an overwhelming feeling towards a guy.
"A Girl like Me" debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200, selling 115,000 copies in its first week, nearly twice the debut sales of her debut album "Music of the Sun" (which sold 69,000 copies in its first week).
The album has since been certified 2x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in the United States.
As of June 2015, "A Girl Like Me" has sold 1.4 million copies in the United States. The album ended the year as the 20th best-selling album in the world in 2006 and has sold an estimated 3,600,000 units worldwide.
"A Girl like Me" received generally mixed to positive reviews from music critics.
Dan Charnas of The Washington Post observed a "much broader musical palette than the wannabe-yoncés" and stated: "Sophomore slump avoided, Rihanna actually digs into some ambitious pop ballads".
David Jeffries of AllMusic commented: "Versatile urban dance-pop singer Rihanna gracefully avoids the sophomore slump with A Girl like Me, a less tropical-flavored, more urban effort than her sun-and-fun debut."
Jeffries compared the track "Kisses Don't Lie" to Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock" and commented that "the album gets bolder and seamlessly bounces from genre to genre ... Rihanna goes from a film noir song that elegantly uses murder as a metaphor for cheating ("Unfaithful") to an easy-flowing weekend cruiser ("We Ride")."
Ruth Jamieson of The Observer noted: "Chuck in a bit of Sugababes-esque harmony, some M.I.A.-style electro and a dollop of reggae, and you're even closer to getting Rihanna. If you liked last year's ridiculously catchy "Pon de Replay", there's more of the same here."
In a negative review, Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times wrote that apart from "SOS", "Unfaithful" and "Break It Off", "this scattershot album is full of duds".
Barry Walters of Rolling Stone felt that the album "doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single: Lightweight dancehall and R&B jams lack the single's ear-bending boldness. But the burning rock guitar of "Kisses Don't Lie" and haunted strings of "Unfaithful" help make A Girl like Me much more likable."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine felt that the album's ballads are "at least a decade too mature for the teenage singer's minor vocal talents." He added that, despite the clever sampling on "SOS", "comparatively gooey and spineless slow numbers like "Final Goodbye" and "A Million Miles Away" kill whatever momentum the album has."
Robert Christgau of MSN Music graded the album a "dud," indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."