MTV News previewed the album on Tuesday (November 10) and Rihanna's description is certainly accurate. After the intro, Rated R kick starts with "Wait Your Turn" and the Young Jeezy-assisted "Hard." The material matches the artwork that's been released for the project so far, with Rihanna posturing as the bad chick.
"Tougher than a lion/ Ain't no need in trying/ I live where the sky ends, yup, you know this," Rihanna sings in a near-rap flow on "Hard." "Never lying, truth telling/ That Rihanna reign just won't let up/ The hottest bitch in heels right here." In what will probably be referred to by fans as the "Chris Brown song," Rihanna reveals a softer side of herself on the ballad "Stupid In Love."
"I still love you, but I can't do this/ I may be dumb but I'm not stupid," she sings on the Ne-Yo-penned record. "Stupid In Love" recounts a story of distrust over lies, raging emotions, and lamenting a lost love. "The dunce cap is off/ You don't realize what you lost 'til I'm gone/ I was the one," Rihanna croons.
The pulsating "Russian Roulette" follows, but it's the next series of selections — "Rock Star," "Firebomb," and "Rude Boy" — that fit the Rihanna archetype of big, bombastic tracks that flaunt her sex appeal. "Rock Star" features former Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash. With its mix of drum kicks and guitar licks, Rihanna revels in her rebellion. "I got my middle finger up/ I don't really give a f---."
"G4L" is another posture record (the acronym is short for "gangster for life"), while "Te Amo" is the Barbados singer's paean to her international audience. The album once again turns somber, with the Will.i.am-assisted "Photographs," where Rihanna laments over a lost relationship. "It shoulda been me and you/ now all I got is these photographs," she sings.
"The Last Song" is just that, after the Justin Timberlake-helmed "Cold Case Love." "Love" begins with a sparse melody and gradually builds through each verse before it crescendos with a full production flourish.
Rihanna recently performed material from the album for the first time during a surprise appearance on Jay-Z's tour in Los Angeles this past weekend. The "Umbrella" star spoke to MTV News about the appearance and said she was both nervous and excited to get back to music. She said Rated R, set for a November 23 release, will be the beginning of a "new era."
"There are a lot of butterflies, a lot of excitement," Rihanna said about her return to music. "I'm anxious. Like, I can't wait. But you're always nervous, because you're about to go do something big. It's a new thing, a new era. But I'm not scared. I'm just really excited. I just can't wait to start."