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Unapologetic is Rihanna's seventh studio album that was released on November 19, 2012 by Def Jam Recordings and SRP Records.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Phresh Off The Runway 3:42
  2. Diamonds 3:45
  3. Numb (featuring Eminem) 3:25
  4. Pour It Up 2:41
  5. Loveeeeeee Song (featuring Future) 4:16
  6. Jump 4:24
  7. Right Now (featuring David Guetta) 3:01
  8. What Now 4:03
  9. Stay (featuring Mikky Ekko) 4:00
  10. Nobody's Business (featuring Chris Brown) 3:36
  11. Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary 6:58
  12. Get It Over With 3:31
  13. No Love Allowed 4:09
  14. Lost In Paradise 3:35

Album BackgroundEdit

In March of 2012, Rihanna revealed that although she had not yet begun recording, she started "working on the new sound" for her seventh studio album.

Recording & ProductionEdit

On June 20, 2012, Rihanna began recording her seventh studio album, working with Nicky Romero and Burns.

She and Burns booked three days in a studio in London while Rihanna was performing at Radio 1's Hackney Weekend. It was also confirmed that she had worked with Eric Bellinger, Sean Garrett, and Swedish House Mafia for the album.

On July 6, 2012, Def Jam executive No I.D. revealed that he had begun working with Rihanna on the album saying "I’m going in next week for about a week".

On July 10, 2012, British singer/producer Labrinth revealed to Capital FM that he had been working with Rihanna on the album.

On July 17, 2012, it was reported that Rihanna would be working with R&B singer Ne-Yo and N-Dubz member Fazer.

In an interview with Capital FM, Ne-Yo spoke on working with Rihanna on the album saying: "I just recently went in to do some stuff for Rihanna, you know. She’s the hardest working woman in showbiz right now. She's in the process of putting together a new album as we speak, I got in with StarGate and David Guetta and a few other people for that project.

Sean Garrett confirmed in July 2012 that he had been in the studio with French DJ David Guetta working on Rihanna's album saying: "I was in the studio with David doing some stuff for Rihanna recently. He finds inspiration in the things I don't like, and I get excited by the things he doesn't like. He wants to be more urban and I want to be more international, so we push each other, I try to help Rihanna. She works hard and it's cool to write for someone who is so open-minded."

On August 21, 2012, American songwriter Claude Kelly said that he had been writing songs for Rihanna while she was performing in London.

Kelly spoke about the songs that he had written for Rihanna saying: "Rihanna's a worldwide superstar at this point and she's performing in stadiums and arenas now, so I wanted songs that reflected her audience, when I was in London she was performing at a festival in front of like 30,000 to 40,000 people. So I didn't want small songs that only worked on radio, so I tried to do anthemic big stadium-themed songs."

On August 16, 2012, British R&B singer-songwriter Angel stated that he had been writing for Rihanna's album. He said: "I love writing songs and it's good to pitch tracks to other artists. A couple of weeks ago I was doing some writing for Rihanna".

In September 2012, Ne-Yo confirmed his involvement the album saying "I did go in the studio with her, I know I got one or two on the album that she's definitely keeping."

CompositionEdit

The album's opening track, "Phresh Out the Runway", is a "gritty club banger" that features hip hop and EDM styles.

The song is a "noisy, trap-tastic twerker" that is reminiscent of Rihanna's 2012 single "Birthday Cake" and contains "blazin' beats, brags aplenty" and an "unapologetic attitude".

The song's lyrical content revolves around Rihanna explaining how if any of her crew does not respect her, then they should no longer remain with her.

"Diamonds" is a mid-tempo ballad which incorporates electronic and pop musical genres. It features heavy synthesizers, orchestral sounds and electronic rhythms.

The song's lyrical content marks a departure from the recurring themes of unhealthy relationships on the album's other songs and contains a prominent concept of love.

"Numb" is a "slow-grinding, Middle Eastern-flavored party track." The instrumentation consists of an Egyptian flute riff and "a crashing bombastic beat." It contains a sample of Kanye West's song "Can't Tell Me Nothing."

The song's lyrical content is "controversial" as it is about feeling "numb after taking drugs" and a "homage to getting high".

"Pour It Up" is a club song with a minimal hip hop beat. Lyrically, it finds Rihanna turning a strip-club anthem into a declaration of independence, pulling out her dollar bills at the strip club, getting drunk, and bragging loudly.

"Loveeeeeee Song" is a duet with rapper/singer Future, with soft vocals by Rihanna and lyrics that posit love as an adversarial game.

"Jump" is a dubstep-influenced dance song that samples Ginuwine's 1996 song "Pony." Lyrically, in the song, Rihanna preaches to her former partner that she won't be chasing him.

"Right Now" is a "feel-good anthem for the clubs." The song contains electronic and dance music with a duration of 3:01 and features a "churning bassline."

"What Now", produced by Parker Ighile, is a "vulnerable ballad" containing a "hard chorus." The song is a piano-led mid tempo pop ballad and "builds nicely from its calming verse to its electrified hook."

"Stay" is a ballad that has piano and guitar instrumentation. According to Dan Martin for NME, the lyrics revolve around "failing to resist true love."

"Nobody's Business" mixes Chicago stepping and house styles, featuring strings, piano, and a four-on-the-floor kick drum. Rihanna said that the lyrics show "basically the way I look at everything regarding my personal life."

Lyrically, the couple proclaims their eternal fealty, make out in a Lexus and acknowledge the world that the romantic relationship between them is only their business.

"Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary" represent two electronica and new wave integrated songs, which last for a duration of 6:58 with lyrics that are deeply personal, two-part song that opens with a somber mood and shifts to confessional subject matter and Rihanna's uplifting vocals.

"Get It Over With" is a down-tempo, "chilled-out" song. "No Love Allowed" is a reggae song with a "bubbly, dubbed-out groove".

The final track "Lost in Paradise" is a "somber-but-hopeful" mid-tempo ballad with frequent tempo drops. Lyrically, it speaks about a love stronger than a gun shot.

"Half of Me" is a chamber pop song which lasts for a duration of three minutes and twelve seconds.

Chart PerformanceEdit

In the United States, "Unapologetic" debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 and sold 238,000 copies in its first week. It was Rihanna's first number-one album in the United States and the best-selling debut week of her career.

In the same week, the album's lead single "Diamonds" remained atop the Billboard Hot 100 for a second consecutive week. Consequently, Rihanna became the second artist of 2012 to top both the Billboard 200 and Hot 100 simultaneously.

The following week, the album fell to number six and sold 72,000 copies. On the issue dated March 11, 2013 (its fourteenth week on the chart), it re-entered the Billboard 200 top five at number five, selling 28,000 that week.

On May 30, 2013, in its 27th consecutive week on the Billboard 200, the album passed the one million sales mark, selling at a faster rate than her previous album, "Talk That Talk." With the feat, the album became her sixth album to sell at least one million copies.

On July 3, 2013, Billboard mid-year sales reported that the album is the 16th best-selling album of 2013 thus far, selling 494,000 copies from January 1 to June 30, 2013.

As of June 2015, "Unapologetic" has sold 1.2 million copies in the US and has sold over four million copies worldwide.

In February 2018, it was certified 3x Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over 3 million album-equivalent units in the US.

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Unapologetic" received mixed to positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, it holds an average score of 61, which indicates "generally favorable reviews", based on 25 reviews.

Alexis Petridis of The Guardian found it "far more interesting" sonically than "Talk That Talk" and stated, "there's stuff here that's worth hearing, if you could untangle the music from the artist's personal life."

Fact magazine's Alex Macpherson felt that it has some of Rihanna's most compelling songs since "Rated R" and that, "even when Unapologetic fails, it often does so in interesting ways" musically.

Andy Kellman of Allmusic opined that "the only way to enjoy a significant portion of it is by taking it as pure entertainment" and called it "another timely refresh of contemporary pop music."

Dan Martin of NME commented that, "at its best, Unapologetic trades in daring avant pop", and dubbed Rihanna the "most compelling of pop phenomena".

Jon Dolan of Rolling Stone asserted that "Unapologetic's stark, shadowy R&B is confrontationally honest and sung within an inch of its life".

Jon Caramanica of The New York Times felt that it "makes the most of [Rihanna's] talent" and stated, "even on the most vulnerable songs, she maintains her cool, never once verging on the maudlin."

Smokey Fontaine of The Huffington Post called it "kinetic and musically varied", and wrote that it "blasts the sounds of global, post-mod youth culture through every track".

In a mixed review, Genevieve Koski of The A.V. Club criticized Rihanna for "extend[ing] the album's defiant tone to her romantic life" and called it "a fiery pop album that's unfortunately coated in the icky residue of unearned defiance that has marked Brown’s recent output."

Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times felt that its commercial "lyrical turns poison" the album, "even while musically, Rihanna has evolved into one of the more forward-thinking pop divas."

Simon Price of The Independent panned her singing as "flatter than Norfolk" and its material "dull as dishwater", observing "the usual half-hearted, sexual single-entendres".

Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote, "in the context of an album dominated by ballads and at least superficially introspective lyrics", the dubstep songs "feel like respites".

Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson commented that the album sounds "cobbled together" and quipped, "If only the music were compelling enough to back up the supreme bad faith" of the lyrics.

Pitchfork's Jessica Hopper dismissed its music as "synth-pop slog" and said that the songs "make for dull labor, not worth our time and not befitting Rihanna's talent".

In his consumer guide for MSN Music, Robert Christgau facetiously called her "so much more provocative as an android than as a human being". He cited "Phresh Out the Runway", "Diamonds", and "Numb" as highlights, and gave the album a three-star honorable mention, which indicates "an enjoyable effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well treasure".

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