Well, if you’re being pedantic – Robyn Rihanna Fenty. There. Happy now?
Rihanna’s musical output can be said to have been greatly influenced by her personal life. Before the whole Chris Brown debacle she was an upbeat, Island-born songstress with a vitality for life and chucking out worldwide smash after worldwide smash. Then, along came the ‘Rated R’ era and things seem to dwell in an eternal Halloween-esque horror-fantasy with overall, a much darker image and sound, far more risky lyrics and song topics (á la ‘Russian Roulette’), and the slightly unwelcoming feeling that this was going to be Rihanna for the rest of her musical career.
Thankfully, with the début single from new album ‘LOUD’, we saw the Bajan beauty erupt out of the dark and back into a world of hazy colours, fun-filled humour and a generally more playful demeanour with the ultra-sassy and addictive ‘Only Girl (In The World)’. And now, with the second release from ‘LOUD’, a duet with US rapper Drake, Rihanna’s even ditched the whole dance-pop vibe and left just her island-infused R&B, reminding us why we loved her in the first place.
‘What’s My Name?’ is a brilliant return to form but what makes it that much better than simply returning to what made you famous, is that it sounds much more mature whilst still retaining an element of Rihanna more playful nature; the music doesn’t sound dated, and with the synth stabs sounding like they’ve just been lifted out of ‘Te Amo’, the whole thing is hotter than a steam-filled sauna.
Rihanna’s vocals are top notch, back to the clear, richly-coated vocals minus the essence of goat that accompanied her vocals in the ‘Rated R’ era. Drake however, doesn’t please as much: his auto-tuned drones make him sound like he’s trying to imitate Lil’ Wayne and his awkward mix of singing and rapping doesn’t do the song justice, often losing the rhythm. The middle eight deserves special mentioning due to it being Rihanna’s best vocal since her earlier years.
Rihanna is injecting colour into New York. How kind.
0:50… Innuendo alert!
In hindsight, I still love ‘Only Girl (In The World)’, but ‘What’s My Name?’ is just as good and succeeds at re-introducing Rihanna, the sassy, R&B princess and should also succeed as continuing her reign over worldwide charts after a few hit and misses with ‘Rated R’.
Rating: 4.0 STARS
Download: December 20, 2010 (OUT NOW)
Featured Album: ‘LOUD’