Once known for her bubbly and upbeat songs like “Pon de Replay” and “Umbrella,” Rihanna’s newest album, Unapologetic, takes a serious turn, reminiscing about the 2009 assault case with then-boyfriend Chris Brown.
Unapologetic has a wide variety of songs, a characteristic that sets this record apart from others Rihanna has produced. There are upbeat club songs, feel-good jams and heartfelt ballads that show off Rihanna’s vocal range. The album reveals a softer side of Rihanna, exposing her fears and allowing herself to be vulnerable in the eyes of the public.
“Diamonds,” the lead single, is an example of one of the many ballads found on the album. The song centers on two lovers whose relationship provides happiness and fulfillment. This can be seen with the lines, "When you hold me, I'm alive," or "At first sight I felt the energy of sun rays / I saw the life inside your eyes." Rihanna describes this love as “diamonds in the sky,” a metaphor carried throughout the entirety of the song.
Trouble arises with “Nobody’s Business,” featuring Chris Brown, who pleaded guilty to assaulting Rihanna in 2009. The song features a couple — a convicted abuser and the woman he assaulted — who asks everyone to leave them alone because their relationship is no one else's business. Sound like a familiar story?
“Numb,” featuring Eminem, is one of the most out-of-place songs on the album not because of Rihanna’s performance, but Eminem’s. His in-your-face attitude and well-known personality are missing when he raps on this track. This can be found in the lines, “I'm class, look me in my eyeball / Do I look high? / No ... I love the way you lie, girl, yeah, yeah / Come here, dear, I'm trying to get closer to you / I'm motioning you to pull over, you boo.”
The album ends on a somber note with “Lost in Paradise,” which describes how Rihanna feels lost after a recent relationship. She sings, “How was I to know that my love was delusional? / Somebody told me how to mend a broken-hearted soul... / In love we all will fall but we fell a little harder / What I’m supposed to do with this heart?”
Overall, Unapologetic is very different from other works Rihanna has produced. The overall tone of the album can be characterized as real and raw and showcases another side to Rihanna fans aren’t used to seeing. She isn’t afraid to confront the skeletons in her closet and bring to light emotions she had been hiding throughout the past several years.