Pop’s incipient queen of the universe and No. 1 hustler in the game is in rare form on Talk That Talk (out today!), taking the super-sexy party girl persona that emerged on Loud and taking it to a whole ‘nother level with some of the most delightfully filthy lyrics this side of Too Short. It doesn’t hurt that the production is unvaryingly on point, as hitmakers like Dr. Luke and Stargate shred your speakers with beats that literally got us pregnant (well, not literally), and top writers like Ri’s go-to scribe Ester Dean and The-Dream busting out horned-up lyrics that would send us riding on a major LOLlercoaster if Rihanna didn’t deliver them so convincingly.
In celebration of the continued sovereignty of That Rihanna Reign, here’s our track-by-track guide to what you need to know about Talk That Talk:
You Da One -– Packing island swagger like “Rude Boy” or “What’s My Name?” with a dissonant, sing-along chorus and a slimy dubstep break, “You Da One” is a smart choice for a second single, with lyrical genius Ester Dean and über-producer Dr. Luke delivering a hyper-current twist on the good, old-fashioned Bajan bangin’ that the Bajan banger built her career making.
Where Have You Been -– We’ve never been hyperbolic before (actually, literally never), but it’s probably safe to say that this is The Best Piece of Music Ever Recorded. The combined talents of Scottish DJ Calvin Harris and Dr. Luke bring in wistful, twangy guitars, a frantic gallop of a bassline, and sleazy grime breaks, making “Where Have You Been” the most compulsively replayable song on the album.
We Found Love –- Ri’s 11th No. 1 single made “We found love in a hopeless place” the season’s refrain most likely to be seen as your friend from high school‘s Facebook status, and with Calvin Harris’ ravey instrumentation dominating the track, “We Found Love” cements her post as one of pop’s most innovative artists.
Talk That Talk -– It’s only reasonable to expect that RiRi’s first collab with Jay-Z since “Umbrella” would be massive, and the Stargate-produced “Talk That Talk” doesn’t disappoint. Sultry and swaggerific, the title track sees Ri seductively counting on the chorus, while Jay-Z boasts about how “bitches wanna f*** me.” (Ultimately, we doubt Beyoncé‘s too pressed about the competition.)
+ Read more of our track-by-track breakdown of Rihanna’s Talk That Talk after the jump.
Cockiness (Love It) -– The only track helmed by Bangladesh — famed for his filthy beats on Lil Wayne‘s “Lollipop” and Ke$ha‘s “Sleazy” — “Cockiness” has Rihanna at her absolute, well, sleaziest. “Suck my cockiness, lick my persuasion,” she urges over skittering, futuristic beats.
Birthday Cake –- The only misstep on the album — not because it’s not amazing (it is!), but because it’s only 78 seconds long. “Birthday Cake” is more decadent Rihanna filth, this time courtesy of sensual R&B-master The-Dream. Have any Rihanna Navy members made an hour-long mix yet? We need to keep the bump ‘n’ grind going all night.
We All Want Love — The first ballad-y song on the album, a No I.D.-produced midtempo that tackles the titular collective desire for affection, “We All Want Love” assumes a lovely, almost Kumbaya-like universality. A sweet departure from the scabrous antics of most of the album.
Drunk On Love -– Only Queen Rihanna, with the aid of Stargate and a sample from critically lauded indie rockers the xx, could make the love-as-addiction metaphor feel newly fresh. The track also features some of RiRi’s strongest vocals on the album — impassioned but just shy of strident, her emotionally charged call on the chorus is coolly haunting.
Roc Me Out -– Aggressive and a little ominous, “Roc Me Out” wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Rated R. The Stargate-produced uptempo sees Rihanna insisting, “I’ve been a bad girl, Daddy.” On this album? Yeah, we don’t doubt it.
Watch N Learn -– Penned by super-talented scribe Priscilla Renea (who also wrote “California King Bed”) and produced by hip-hop star Hit-Boy, “Watch N Learn” sees Rihanna returning to her island roots with some finger-snapping and percussive instrumentation. Oh, baby baby, indeed!
Farewell –- The record’s only true ballad, this Alex da Kid-produced track is a smorgasbord of influences, with ambient drums and wistful piano strumming complementing some of Rihanna’s finest vocals.
Red Lipstick –- A hotly anticipated collab with drum & bass kings Chase & Status originally cut for Rated R, “Red Lipstick” interpolates their track “Saxon” to deliciously ribald effect. “Let me grab my t** while you sit on top,” Rihanna sings. We’d blush if we weren’t so busy dropping it low.
Do Ya Thing –- This uplifting pop number with prominent ’80s influences from The-Dream can’t be beat for sheer likability, stepping back from Ri’s hypersexual persona to sing a more earnest, good-natured tune.
Fool In Love -– Are these RiRi’s most stunning vocals on the album? Dr. Luke’s usually aggressive production scales back to let Ri’s gorgeous voice shine, with lyrics that pay homage to Queen‘s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”