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Music of the Sun is Rihanna's debut studio album that was released on August 19, 2005 by Def Jam Recordings.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Pon De Replay 4:06
  2. Here I Go Again (featuring J-Status) 4:11
  3. If It's Lovin' That You Want 3:28
  4. You Don't Love Me (No, No, No) (featuring Vybz Kartel) 4:20
  5. That La, La, La 3:45
  6. The Last Time 4:53
  7. Willing To Wait 4:37
  8. Music Of The Sun 3:56
  9. Let Me 3:56
  10. Rush (featuring Kardinal Offishall) 3:09
  11. There's A Thug In My Life (featuring J-Status) 3:21
  12. Now I Know 5:01
  13. Pon De Replay (Remix) (featuring Elephant Man) 3:37

Album BackgroundEdit

Before signing to Def Jam Recordings, Rihanna was discovered in her home country Barbados by American record producer Evan Rogers.

They met in December 2003 through mutual friends of Rihanna's and Rogers' wife, while the couple was on vacation in Barbados, because of how her friend had told Rogers' wife how Rihanna was always singing and performing.

After meeting her for the first time, Rogers asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of Destiny's Child's "Emotion" and Mariah Carey's "Hero".

Rihanna's renditions impressed Rogers, who then took her to New York City, where she was accompanied by her mother to record some demo tapes which could be sent to record labels. She recorded the demo over the next year intermittently, due to Rihanna only being able to record during school holidays.

When she was 16 years old, Rihanna was signed to Rogers' and Carl Sturken's production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, who assigned her a lawyer and manager, before the completed demo tape was distributed to various record labels around the world in late 2004.

The first to respond to the demo tape was Jay-Z, who had recently been appointed as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings. Rihanna auditioned for him and music mogul L.A. Reid in his office.

Looking back on the audition and meeting Jay-Z, Rihanna explained in an interview how she felt before walking into the room, saying: "That's when I really got nervous..... I was like: 'Oh God, he's right there, I can't look, I can't look, I can't look!' I remember being extremely quiet. I was very shy. I was cold the entire time. I had butterflies. I'm sitting across from Jay-Z. Like, Jay-Zee. I was star-struck."

During the audition, Rihanna performed Whitney Houston's cover of "For the Love of You", as well as "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time" (which were written and produced by Rogers and Sturken and would be included on her debut album).

Jay-Z was initially skeptical about signing Rihanna after he felt "Pon de Replay" was too big for her, saying, "when a song is that big, it's hard [for a new artist] to come back from. I don't sign songs, I sign artists."

The audition resulted in Rihanna signing a six-album record deal with Def Jam Recordings in February 2005, on the same day of the audition, with Jay-Z saying: "There's only two ways out. Out the door after you sign this deal. Or through this window ...", meaning that he was not going to let her leave without signing a record deal.

After signing to Def Jam Recordings, Rihanna cancelled other meetings with record labels and relocated from Barbados to New York City to live with Rogers and his wife.

Rihanna explained the concept behind the title of the album to Kidzworld, saying that the sun is representative of her native Caribbean culture as well as herself and that the album consists of music from her heritage.

RecordingEdit

Rihanna worked with various producers for Music of the Sun and continued to work with Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who had previously written and produced "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time" for Rihanna's demo tape.

Although Rihanna stated that when she first heard "Pon de Replay", she did not want to record it, expressing that she felt the song was "sing-songy", but she grew to like the song at the end of the recording process.

In an interview with Kidzworld, Rihanna explained how the pair helped her develop her song-writing abilities, talking about Rogers and Sturken, who had worked with recording artists including Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Kelly Clarkson.

CompositionEdit

"Music of the Sun" is a Caribbean-influenced, "urban" dance-pop album. Its dance-pop songs are complemented by contentional R&B ballads.

The lead single "Pon de Replay" was written by Rogers, Sturken and Vada Nobles, and was produced by the first two.

"Pon de Replay" is a simple dance-pop song with dancehall beats and reggae vocal cadence. Lyrically, the song has its protagonist asking the DJ to play her favorite song, as well as the fulfillment of dancing in a club.

"The Last Time", written and produced by Rogers and Sturken, is an acoustic guitar driven ballad, while "Now That I Know" is a stripped down string driven song.

In addition to working with Rogers and Sturken for the majority of the album, Rihanna worked with production teams Poke and Tone of Trackmasters and StarGate.

The former wrote and produced the second single released from the album, "If It's Lovin' that You Want", which Rihanna described as a "fun song."

An R&B song, it is about a girl telling a boy that he should make her his girl because she has what the boy wants.

A remix of the song, entitled "If It's Lovin' That You Want – Part 2", which features rap by Cory Gunz, was included as a bonus track on Rihanna's sophomore studio album, "A Girl like Me."

Alongside Rogers and Sturken, StarGate co-wrote and co-produced "Let Me", which appears as the ninth song on the album.

The album also contains a remake of Jamaican singer Dawn Penn's "You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)", and features dancehall recording artist Vybz Kartel.

Chart PerformanceEdit

In the United States, "Music of the Sun" sold 69,000 copies in its first week and debuted at #10 on the Billboard 200 in the chart issue dated September 17, 2005.

The album spent a total of 35 weeks on the chart. It debuted on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart at #6 in the same chart issue, and spent a total of forty-four weeks on the chart.

After five months of release, the album was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on January 1, 2006, denoting shipments of over 500,000 copies.

By the time Rihanna released her third studio album "Good Girl Gone Bad", the album had sold 539,000 copies, making it a slower selling album than the others in her repertoire.

As of June 2015, the album had sold 623,000 copies in the United States.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Music of the Sun" received generally mixed reviews from music critics.

Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times viewed that the album's combination of dancehall and pop resulted in "["Pon de Replay" being] one [of] the summer's biggest and most seductive club tracks", but felt that Rihanna sounded "stranded" without a beat to sing along to.

Barry Walters of Rolling Stone found it lacking in replay value, ingenuity, and rhythm, with "generic vocal hiccups and frills" of US R&B inflecting upon her "Caribbean charm".

Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine called the album a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses" and described the lead single "Pon de Replay" as "a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé Knowles' "Baby Boy."

Evan Serpick of Entertainment Weekly wrote that Rihanna's "vibrant vocals lift tracks like "That La, La, La" and "Let Me," but this bland reggae/R&B debut is filled with chintzy production and maudlin arrangements that block out the Music of the Sun."

Robert Christgau of The Village Voice rated the album a "dud," indicating "a bad record whose details rarely merit further thought."

In a positive review, Jason Birchmeier of AllMusic commented that the album presents Rihanna as "winsome rather than [a] wannabe," as well as how she managed to set herself apart from other urban dance-pop artists such as Ashanti, Beyoncé, and Ciara.

Birchmeier further stated that "[...] Music of the Sun descends into faceless slow jams after a while, overall consistency not being among its attributes, but thankfully it picks up the pace toward the end..... the result is one of the more engaging urban dance-pop albums of the year."

Chantal Jenoure of The Jamaica Observer complimented the dancehall and hip hop composition on several of the songs, including "Pon de Replay", "Rush", "Let Me", "Music of the Sun" and "That La, La, La", writing that they make the listener feel "happy" and "carefree."

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