Apple Music 100 Best Albums

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The blueprint for 21st-century pop domination.

When Rihanna unleashed ANTI on the world, it quickly became clear that this wasn’t the Rihanna we’d come to know. Having left her longtime label and tossed her own hit-factory formula—which she had polished to perfection since her 2005 debut—out the window, she was free from expectation, free to cultivate her own mystique, and free to rethink what a modern pop blockbuster could sound like.

ANTI was the first time I took my time making an album. [It] for sure is my top favorite album I’ve ever made.”


The evolution starts with her bigger, bolder voice—from her whiskey-coated wails on the late-night voicemail that is “Higher” to breathing smoke on her cover of Tame Impala’s “New Person, Same Old Mistakes.” She proudly celebrates her Caribbean heritage on “Work”; she presents women with yet another kiss-off anthem with “Needed Me” and flaunts her erotic side on “Sex With Me.” She also mines and updates genres by going full ’50s doo-wop on “Love on the Brain” and channeling Prince for the velvety ’80s power-pop ballad “Kiss It Better.” Yet it all feels thoroughly modern and thoroughly distinct—the blueprint for 21st-century pop domination.