As the star graces the cover of next month's British Vogue, could a new album be imminent?
With Rihanna confirming that she was back in the studio earlier this year, rumour has it that a new Ri Ri album could drop sometime soon. Here is everything we know so far about the upcoming album from rumours of track titles, release dates to collaborations and influences.
What is the new album called?
We don’t know the album title as yet, but fans are affectionately referring to it as ‘R9’ on social media. They’ve been doing this since the release of her eighth, double-platinum 2016 album, ‘ANTI.’
Could it be albums plural?
Rumours emerged in April 2018 that Rihanna might be working on not one, but two albums – one made up of “chart-friendly songs”, the other of “moody and experimental tracks.” She may release them as an epic double album – after all, the format seems to be popular again following on from Drake’s ‘Scorpion’ or Popcaan’s ‘Forever’, both of whom have released lengthy double-albums this year.
A source told Metro: “Rihanna wasn’t happy with how her last album performed – even though she loved how it turned out, she knows she needs a new project full of smash hits to avoid two back-to-back flops…she’s currently recording two albums – one full of chart-friendly songs, and another made up of moody and experimental tracks – and is considering releasing a double disc if she feels the songs won’t mesh well on the same album.”
Sources also confirmed to Rolling Stone that Rihanna was indeed working on two records, specifically a dancehall album and a pop album. The dancehall record is said to have some of the biggest producers and singers in the genre attached to it, with the likes of R. City (Rihanna, Beyoncé), Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor (Vybz Kartel, Sean Paul), Linton “TJ Records” White (Serani, Vybz Kartel), Kranium, Chronixx, and more submitting material. One producer said that Skrillex and Boi-1da had also been involved in sessions.
When will it be released?
Earlier this year, Rihanna appeared on The Graham Norton Show as part of the promotion of Oceans 8 and confirmed that she was indeed working on new music saying “I am actually in the studio at the moment.” However, Rhianna didn’t give anything away about the album’s release date when asked by Norton if the album would be ready for Christmas. “You’ll just have to wait and see,” Rihanna teased.
When fans asked her when new music was coming, Rihanna assured them that new music was on it’s way. “She coming sis!” the Barbadian singer replied to one fan. When another asked if she’d forgot about her music career, Rihanna replied “HOW! Y’all would never let me Lolol.”
When Rihanna teased pictures across social media in April, there was much speculation that the follow up to ‘ANTI’ was imminent. However, it just turned out to be Rihanna promoting her new Savage x Fenty lingerie line.
What’s it about?
Here we have a few more clues. Earlier in 2018, Ri Ri confirmed to Vogue that her ninth studio album would be a reggae album during her cover shoot for the magazine. In the accompanying feature, writer Chioma Nnandi said the new record would be influenced by Bob Marley and the influential record producer Supa Dups, best known for his work with Beenie Man and Sean Paul. “She plans to make a reggae album,” Nnandi stated in the feature.
Breathe Heavy also reported that the singer registered two new songs on ASCAP with the reggae influenced name ‘Phatty’ and ‘Only One Who Knows’ in late 2017. Earlier this year, a fan spotted that a new track called ‘Louvre’ has been registered on Genius to the star, but no further details emerged.
In a Rolling Stone feature, producers linked to the album reported that the star and her team had collected a large number of demos from Jamaican talent for consideration. One, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “[Rihanna’s team] have, no lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers. They’re only choosing 10 records. They’ve been having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now. I’ve been flying to Miami, flying to L.A., cutting records nonstop for this project.”
Another source said: “Every artist, every producer, every songwriter in Jamaica or of Jamaican descent has been working on [Rihanna’s album] and has little snippets of publishing or production credits on it.” They added that they thought her team had eight songs chosen “but her A&R is still asking for records.” Another source speculated that they were looking for “one more [song].”
Will there be any collaborations on the new album?
Almost certainly, yes. Earlier this year, Rihanna filmed herself on Snapchat listening to reggae artist Buju Banton, and he is rumoured to have penned ‘Phatty’ with Rihanna herself. She was also snapped in New York heading to a recording studio wearing a t-shirt with his face on, causing fans to speculate that a collaboration is on the agenda.
Whilst no official collaborations have been announced, fans think there is a strong possibility that artists Rihanna collaborated with on other projects in 2017 may well appear on her ninth album. Last year Rihanna worked with DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller on ‘Wild Thoughts’ as well as with Calvin Harris on ‘This Is What You Came For’, Future with their project ‘Selfish’, Pharell on ‘Lemon’ and Kendrick Lamar on ‘LOYALTY.’
As reported by MTV, Diplo revealed in a chat with iHeartRadio that Rihanna had turned down his music but that he hoped the two could still work together. He said: “We talked a little bit because she’s writing a lot of new music right now for her next project and, hopefully, we can connect.” According to CapitalXtra, he did let slip that other artists including Raye and Chase & Status may well all be in the mix for an appearance on ‘R9’.
Other rumours include Cardi B, with fans speculating that a collaboration may be a possibility after the singer wrote that she wanted a threesome with Rihanna and Chrissy Tigen on her new album, ‘Invasion of Privacy’ earlier this year.
Do we know the track-listing?
No official track-listing has been released yet, but we do know two songs have been registered under the stars name – ‘Phatty’ and ‘Only One Who Knows.’ According to a report in Rolling Stone, the singer had around 500 songs to choose from, with work from many artists being submitted for the star’s consideration.
Other news and theories
It was announced yesterday (July 31) that Rihanna will appear on the cover of September’s British Vogue, which may well have more album news when it’s published on August 3.
An Instagram photo of the singer also emerged wearing her real hair in multiple ponytails with the caption “Troll”. According to Metro, eagle eyed fans have spotted that the singer had nine ponytails and immediately decided that this meant the release of ‘R9’ is imminent. Well, we can only hope it’s true.