Rihanna covering the new issue of W Magazine is no big surprise, but Rihanna talking about songwriting for the first time is definitely news to us. Pop the hood to read the excerpt that sent us scrambling for our liner notes.
“This was a different type of record for me,” she says in her steady island lilt, sitting in a backstage dressing room after taping a BET show. “It was really personal; it was from me in the most authentic way. It’s like a movie”—hence the title—“in that when I was making this album, every day I was in a different mood. Sometimes I was pissed off, sometimes I was miserable, and every song brings out a different story.”
For the first time, she was intimately involved with the lyrics, writing many of them herself and spending time with her collaborators (who included Jeezy, Justin Timberlake and Ne-Yo) explaining her emotions and working on translating them. “It’s still hard to listen to certain songs,” she admits. “Certain ones I couldn’t even record—I’d keep pushing them back [on the schedule].” There was one track in particular she had a hard time facing. Called “The Last Song,” it has lyrics that read like the final goodbye to a great love. “When the label finally said we had 12 hours to turn in the album, I was like, Okay, I have to do it. I just drank some red wine, dimmed the lights, got in the booth and sang it.”
Rated R marks more than just Rihanna’s first real foray as a songwriter; it’s also a major shift stylistically from the lighthearted commercial pop of her past. “I wanted this album to have more bass, more bottom, grimier beats—to be less synth-y/pop-y/dance-y,” she says, wincing, as if to indicate that the hits that made her a star have started to grate on her. “My fans have until now been really young, like five years old to just before adulthood. But now older adults are into my music. Straight men too! Men couldn’t really bump my last album in the car. With this album they can play it and still feel tough.”
Riri you so funny girl! You so bad you make straight men feel tough!
Seriously though, this songwriting detail was something we hadn’t heard before, so we did a little fact-checking and sure enough Rihanna is listed as songwriter on nine of 13 tracks on Rated R. Still, we learned enough from Bey Bey to know that doesn’t always mean she actually wrote a dang word.
Do you believe Rihanna wrote on Rated R?
If it is true, we s’pose that explains why it sucks so bad.
More pictures from Riri’s W spread below: