Actually, scratch that. Rihanna‘s new record, Talk That Talk, is the dirtiest “pop” record we have ever heard. We listened to the entirety of the 11-song album, which will hit stores on Monday, November 21, earlier this afternoon here at our Times Square headquarters and can confirm that everyone in attendance left the room with flushed cheeks after experiencing extensive periods of blushing.
Now, this is not to say that Rihanna has gone out and recorded the female As Nasty As They Wanna Be; it’s not simply a sexually-explicit affair (although, at one point during The-Dream produced track “Birthday Cake,” she does proclaim “I wanna f*** you right now”). Rather, Talk That Talk continues the conversation that Rihanna began with her single “S&M” (off Loud) and, if you’ll pardon the Spinal Tap reference, turns it up to 11. Rihanna and her chief partner-in-crime, songwriter Esther Dean (who either wrote or co-wrote at least five songs on the LP), have put together a record that not only oozes sex, but also revolves almost exclusively around it.
Take the album’s fifth track, “Cockiness,” for example. The Bangladesh-produced banger, which sounds like a vintage-era Neptunes jam, begins with Rihanna telling her lover that “I want you to be my sex slave” and contains the refrain “I love it when you eat it.” It doesn’t stop there; in perhaps the album’s most memorable line, Rihanna demands her subject to “Suck my cockiness / Lick my persuasion.” This line, which got all of the attendees in the room we were in to nervously chuckle, is the kind of line that would’ve got Rihanna called in front of Congress if Tipper Gore were still running the PMRC, and the kind of song that would make even Prince‘s famed protagonist “Darling Nikki” squeal.
It’s not just that track, either. On the Stargate-produced “Roc Me Out,” RiRi complains that “You’re taking too long to get my head on the ground / And my feet in the clouds,” before cooing, “I’ve been a bad girl, daddy.” And during “Watch And Learn,” produced by up-and-comer Hit-Boy, she goes to great lengths to detail how she wants it on the bed, the floor, and the couch, before turning the tables and not-so-subtly instructing that “It’s your turn now / Watch and learn now / Watch and learn how.” Trust us, the things she’s teaching in this song certainly aren’t taught in schools (at least not without a permission slip signed by your parents).
All that being said, this album sounds positively MAMMOTH and will no doubt continue Rihanna’s dominance on the pop charts for at least the next year and change. “Where Have You Been,” which was written by Top 40 formula crackers Dr. Luke and Esther Dean and produced by the hit maker du jour Calvin Harris, will almost certainly be Rihanna’s biggest club smash since “Don’t Stop The Music.” The chorus features a sweeping, trance-ish transition that will bowl over dancefloor denizens in clubs all over the world, and the bass in the song is so monstrous (in a good way!) that it will make you want to trade in your factory-installed car speakers for a top-of-the-line sound system. And we’ve gotten six paragraphs deep into this preview without even mentioning Jay-Z’s guest vocals on the album’s fourth song and title track, “Talk That Talk,” which isn’t quite on the level of “Umbrella,” but is a lock for the Billboard Top Ten whenever Def Jam decides to release it as a single.
And “Drunk On Love”? Oh boy, this one is going to please Williamsburg hipsters to their core. It’s built on a foundation of The XX‘s “Intro,” which gives it instant indie cred, but Stargate smartly takes Jamie XX‘s melody line and transforms the beat into something so massive that your iPod earbuds are almost guaranteed to explode.
While Rihanna’s Talk That Talk isn’t a record that you’re going to want to listen to with the kiddies in the room (at least not sans EARMUFFS!), it’s far and away the most cohesive album that she’s recorded to date. It’s not a concept record, per se, but the thematic consistency of this album’s lyrical content—shout out to Esther Dean, a true freak if we’ve ever heard one!— and the epic soundscapes that Stargate, Calvin Harris and crew have created make this, from start to finish, the most aurally satisfying record of the six full-length albums she has released. It’s got at least five or six singles that have a shot at making a huge impact on the charts (“We Found Love” has already hit #1), and when it’s all said and done, should put Rihanna neck-and-neck in the running with Beyoncé for the most successful female solo artist of her era (not to mention, earning her a plaque next to Madonna in the Hall of Fame for All-Time Most Sexually Provocative Female Solo artists).
TALK THAT TALK TRACKLIST (and partial list of credits)
1. “U The One” (produced by Dr. Luke)
2. “Where Have You Been?” (produced by Calvin Harris, written by Dr. Luke & Esther Dean, )
3. “We Found Love” (produced by Calvin Harris)
4. “Talk That Talk (featuring Jay-Z)” (produced by Stargate, written by Esther Dean)
5. “Cockiness” (produced by Bangladesh)
6. “Birthday Cake” (produced by The-Dream)
7. “We All Want Love” (written by Esther Dean)
8. “Drunk On Love” (produced by Stargate, written by Esther Dean)
9. “Roc Me Out” (produced by Stargate, written by Esther Dean)
10. “Watch And Learn” (produced by Hit-Boy, written by Priscilla Renea)
11. “Farewell” (produced by Big Juice, written by Esther Dean)