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Shooting to worldwide stardom with the success of “Umbrella”, which collected the star her first Grammy, Barbadian beauty Rihanna looks to reaffirm that her success is not the result of a one time fluke and prove her viability as an artist.

With the singer keeping relatively mum since her February incident with former boyfriend Chris Brown, she lets her feelings be brutally known within Rated R’s thirteen tracks, which she describes as her “mini movie”.

“It's really honest, at times vulnerable, but it came from really, really deep in here [points to heart]. I just feel like I had to call it Rated R, 'cause it's my movie.”

Track-by-Track Analysis:

“Mad House”:
On the creepy and horror movie inspired intro, a suppressed male voice says “Ladies and gentlemen, to those among you who are easily frightened, we suggest you turn away now,” warning you of the potentially shocking and gruesome details that lie ahead in the upcoming adventure.

“Wait Your Turn”:
“The wait is ova”, she declares on the bouncy cut produced by Chase & Status that sees the singer reviving her Island accent, which gradually disappeared as the power of her name began to heighten. It has a hard-hitting aura and although she can seem a little forced at times, it marks a solid start to the album.

“Hard”: Assisted by Young Jeezy, the cocky track sees the singer tooting her own horn by claiming she’s “tougher than a lion” and “the hottest bitch in heels”, as she effortlessly rides the beat and notes that those “aiming at [her] pedestal” will never succeed at dethroning her.

“Stupid in Love”: A piano-laced ballad that utilizes finger snaps, while she reveals being absurdly foolish in a relationship by falling for the wrong guy. It seems to be the first direct address at Brown as she sings, “I still love you, but I just can't do this. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid,” and continues with “the dunce cap is off, you don't know what you've lost.”

“Rockstar 101”:
Equipped with rock (guitar licks) and urban (drum kicks) elements, the cut sees the singer claiming the only thing she’s missing is a black guitar, but with former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash featured, the instrument is placed firmly in good hands. “I got my middle finger up, I don't really give a fuck,” she flaunts rebelling.

“Russian Roulette”:
Comparing a relationship to the deadly game, the Ne-Yo penned cut highlights the improvement that lies within her voice as she emotively pinpoints some of the pain contained in the record’s lyrical content. “So many won't get the chance to say goodbye, but it's too late to think of the value of my life,” she sings on the track, which is metaphorically driven and ends with blood rushing gunshot.

“Fire Bomb”:
Heavily backed by electric guitars, the mid-tempo cut references a car, while emblemizing a relationship that has reach the boiling point and is about to blow. Extremely nice effort on all fronts.

“Rude Boy”:
A sexy club bouncer that sees the singer expressing her enjoyment for being sexual pleased, as she declares, “I like it when you pull my hair, I like it when you touch me there.” She also lets it be readily known that there are qualifications that must be met (“Can you get it up?” and “Is you big enough?”) and she easily rides the beat and the cut itself to winning grounds.

On the somber collaboration, she reminisces on love that could have been as she sings, “It shoulda been me and you, now all I got is these photographs.” Nothing much to brag about here, it sounds like a bad misplaced Black Eyed Peas’ leftover and the singer fails to vocally demonstrate the pain of a woman, who has lost the love of her life.

“I lick the gun when I'm done 'cause I know that revenge is sweet,” she sings on the track abbreviated for ‘gangster for life’. It definitely sounds funny hearing words like “mother-fucker” and “nigga” parting her lips, but the way it marks her turning the tables, as well as, the attitude that she faults easily sells it.

“Te Amo”:
On the Stargate-production, the singer is overtaken by a female lover, who shows interest, and it dissects the feelings that steam from that encounter. Lyrically, it is really intense and she does a nice job of handing the content on the vocals front.

“Cold Case Love”:
A product of Justin Timberlake’s production group The Y’s, the composition of this track easily strikes upon the grounds of amazing and it fully engages you with the strength of its lyrics and its engaging nature, which even makes Miss Fenty’s lackluster vocal performance tolerable.

“The Last Song”: The closing ballad that sees the singer closing the chapter on a relationship with the assistance of pianos, heavy drums and a dominant electric guitar. Vocally, she travels well beyond the limitations of her flaccid voice, but lyrically it ends the album on a poignant note.

Final Verdict:
With a gritty and deeply-rooted atmosphere, it is very clear that Rated R is the reflection of a young woman coming into her own and dealing with the setbacks that come with life, which in this case is leaving an abusive relationship.

Filled with ballads and only the occasional up-tempos, it is not a diary that is without its faults, which is most apparent in the singer’s flimsy vocals that lack the ability or strength to convey a lot of the pain needed to fully bring the records to life.

Regardless, the journey does have a cohesive flow and you have to respect Miss Fenty for taking a chance and not just creating another installment of ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’, which is probably what the label and most fans were expecting.

3.5 out of 5

Celebrity Bug’s Key Tracks: “Hard”, “Stupid In Love”, “Russian Roulette”, “Fire Bomb”, “Rude Boy”, “G4L”, “Te Amo” and “Cold Case Love”.

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