Monday, November 28, 2011

Album Review: Talk That Talk ~ Rihanna

I like this album! And this time I'm not surprised. Last year when I purchased Rihanna's "Loud" album I was almost shocked at how much I was grooving to it...but this year, as an official "fan" of Ms. Fenty, I know that this CD will be on rotation for a while.

Something can be said for music that makes you feel good. There are albums that inspire me. Albums that motivate me. Albums that excite me...and then there are albums that just simply make me feel good.

Produced by Rihanna and Roc Nation, "Talk That Talk" is a combination of hot dance tracks, and traditional Rihanna pop numbers. High energy and fast paced for the most part, it's a great mark of Rihanna's evolution as an artist and woman, and a tribute to her stability in life.

There were periods of darkness, insecurity, and sadness in Rihanna's music, and this second consecutive album of positive and uplifting compositions shows us that she's growing, she's enjoying life, and she's still not afraid to express her needs, since most of the songs are based around the subject of love and longing.

There's no real exposition of her strong vocals or any heart-heavy ballads, like we've heard in the past. But as a testament to Rihanna's talent displayed thus far, I think she can get away with passing on those elements for this album. We know she can sing. We know she can tear up a slow jam...but for now, we just want to dance.

My first impressions of the album, released on Friday, November 18, 2011:

1) You Da One ~ This has a slight island vibe to it, which is always appreciated from Rihanna. Although she rarely goes all out into a full reggae or soca track (not since the early days of her career), I do think it's important that each of her albums attempts to contain an element of her Caribbean heritage.

2) Where Have You Been ~ I think Rihanna continues to stay on top of her game is because she's a favourite with men...and women. The content and subject matter of her songs can always hit that emotional chord with women, when she speaks exactly what's on their minds. Again, early out, she sets the tone for the album with a dance track, letting the listeners know that she's going all the way there...almost to the point of trance and out of the pop realm. She wants you to dance. She wants you to feel good, and she makes this very clear early in the album.

3) We Found Love ~ This song is seriously hot! Loved it from the first time I heard it. Love the energy, love the video (below), love the pace of it. It's the kind of song you can get lost in, on a dancefloor, in your car, or even just watching the video...can bring anyone into automatic Vegas-style fist pumping.

4) Talk That Talk ~ This song is cool. Didn't love it immediately, but know it will grow on me with the right presentation (video, live, or otherwise). The end breakdown segment is dope...very dancehall-esq. The rest...your average Rihanna/rapper collabo. Even if that rapper is Jay-Z, the track is just aright.

5) Cockiness ~ Whoa whoa whoa. Vulgarity from the jump! Suck wha...? Well, it wouldn't be a Rihanna album without a song or two sexually going over the top. Being provocative has kinda become her thing. Well, not her "main" thing, but at least a "side" thing. So this song is partially an expectation at this point...while still being borderline uncomfortable. I remember feeling uncomfortable for the mothers accompanying their 10-year-old daughters to the Rihanna "Loud" tour's stop in Toronto due to similarly provocative content. But it is what it is...she's grown, she is a fan of expressing this side of herself, and it makes for an interesting song, nonetheless. Sounds like a sure shot strip club anthem to me.

6) Birthday Cake ~ OK, so another song that will make an audio appearance at King and Diamonds and other establishments of that nature. "Sounds" sexy, and the lyrical content matches. Truth be told, almost sounds like Beyonce could rock this as her own. I wanted to hear where this song was going, but it ends abruptly. Almost too abruptly like an error, or an unintended interlude.

7) We All Want Love ~ This is a nice peace-n-love feel good Olympics type song. Nothing spectacular, but pleasant lyrics and a "nice" feeling as a result.

8) Drunk on Love ~ Definitely my favourite song on the album. Nice vibe right from the start, with a hint of 80's synth and drums. I love mood music, and think this is definitely movie soundtrack worthy...the breakdown in particular is tight.

9) Roc Me Out ~ A strong song, and another high energy track. A bit forgettable, as even as I'm writing this...I forget which one it was! But fundamentally, I remember it was a good song.

10) Watch n Learn ~ This one was interesting, and again, I appreciated the slight reggae undertone to it. It's no "Man Down" but a good attempt at bringing in that vibe.

11) Farewell ~ This is surprisingly the only read ballad-like song on the album. Again, an average song, and the vocals aren't particularly impressive...but a nice song. As this wraps up the album, you can see that while she committed to themes of love and passion, she wasn't going there from a place of extremely vulnerability, but moreso from a place of recognition, celebration, and partially diving into the core of the emotion.

From I first saw the video for "We Found Love," I had a feeling this album would be a little bit carefree, a little bit reckless, and that images of the red-haired party Rihanna might be taken to another level. The album imagery completely compliments this mood of potential disaster yet total emotional intoxication.

Job well done again for the complete packaging and slight reinvention of Rihanna's image with each album. While the songs themselves paint a picture, and develop overtime, so is the story that is Rihanna's career and visual metamorphosis.

Writtey by Stacey Marie Robinson for Kya Publishing's "Urban Toronto Tales" blog.


  1. Rihanna is Rihanna - free to be herself. I too agree that her music underwent some darkness and I'm sure we haven't seen the last...

    Even then she shows that she is to be reckoned in this music industry. Or, as Rihanna states, "...that Rihanna reign just won't let up."

    She reminds me of Madonna.

  2. Yes, definitely similar to Madonna. Confident and edgy...but still likeable!