Review Roundup: Rihanna – ‘Unapologetic’

Unapologetic

Rihanna has come a long way since “Pon de Replay.” Seven years after making her debut, Barbados’ hottest export is all grown up on her seventh album, Unapologetic. The reigning pop princess serves up a mix of dance tracks, dark ballads, and club bangers, calling on collaborators Chris Brown, Eminem, and Future, and hitmakers including The-Dream, David Guetta, Stargate, Pop Wansel, and No I.D. How did the critics rate RiRi’s latest? Find out below.

USA Today: The catchiest song on Rihanna’s new album, Unapologetic, may also be the most disturbing one ["Nobody's Business"]. … There are other infectious tunes on Unapologetic, and others that will make you squirm a bit. 3/4

Entertainment Weekly: Clearly, Rihanna’s in a more somber mood on Unapologetic. Even the dance songs feel dark: she has traded the upbeat Eurodisco romps of last year’s Talk That Talk for screwed vocals (“Phresh Out the Runway”) and dubstep-warped bangers (“Jump”). B+

Los Angeles Times: Rihanna can be as unapologetic as she feels she needs to be, and can support Brown all she wants. But when she starts dragging down Eminem ["Numb"], somebody needs to atone.

The Washington Post: The first half of the disc is weighted with club tracks, the second with milder R&B songs and some genuinely lovely ballads, but Rihanna’s always-on recording method is bearing diminishing returns. The dance tracks aren’t as booming as on past releases and the hooks are less hooky.

The Boston Globe: Unapologetic is a defiant middle finger to her critics, particularly the ones who don’t approve of her relationship with Brown. Given how exuberant her catalog has been, it’s surprisingly moody at times. Even the club bangers (“Phresh Out the Runway” and “Numb,” featuring Eminem) are heavy with bass that rumbles more in your chest instead of rattling your feet.

Chicago Tribune: Much of Unapologetic is a tough listen, ostensibly a pop album from one of the biggest pop stars of our time that’s dark and emotionally complex. 2.5/4

New York Daily News: The disc risks more ballads than usual. “What Now” lets Rihanna unleash a belt that may not rival Beyoncé’s, but it does show heft. A hidden track at the end, “Half of Me,” proves the star can be as evocative as she is provocative. 3/5

Rap-Up’s Favorite Tracks: “Diamonds,” “Jump,” “Nobody’s Business,” “Half of Me”



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77 Comments

  1. Critics

    Damn, Washington Post and LA Times went in for the kill. Poor Ri Ri.

    [Reply]

    aquarius Reply:

    @Critics, she’ll be iight

    [Reply]

    coolio Reply:

    @aquarius, album sucks

    [Reply]

    iBzThuggin' Reply:

    @coolio, Its really doesn’t, I think your juts mad that you wasn’t given the opportunity to producer a album worldwide …

    Honestly this isn’t Rihanna’s best work (LOUD WAS)but its isn’t as horrible as other artist ” Re-Release Album” LMAO

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    NAVY 101 Reply:

    @Critics, lmao they mad pressed, they can suck it. numb is actually one of my fav songs on the album. i love how she keeps repeating the hook then hook then eminem comes in viciously rapping. such a feel good, ball so hard song.

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    Jay-Me Reply:

    @Critics, I’m glad they did. Rihanna’s 15 minutes need to be up now. She’s dragging down music as a whole.

    [Reply]

    C Reply:

    @Jay-Me, 15 minutes? You’re crazy she’s been around 7 years. She has a lot left in her. Go learn about the music industry.

    [Reply]

    Jay-Me Reply:

    @C, & what mark in her 7 years has she left on the industry. She’s all shallow, attention seeking, taking her clothes. Come talk to me when she does something meaningful.

    [Reply]

  2. Kyle

    I haven’t listened to it all yet but I think this album hosts some of Rihanna’s best mid-tempo’s. I have always preferred her upbeat pop songs but I appreciate this albums darker tone just like I did on “Rated R” (my favorite album of hers to date).

    [Reply]

    sam Reply:

    @Kyle, I agree, ‘Rated R’ is the only album of her’s I can play start to finish without skipping over a few tracks.

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  3. Sleazy

    Damn They went IN! On her

    [Reply]

  4. umm...

    of the whole album, i like 3 songs. :/ i love rihanna though

    [Reply]

  5. Ana

    I love this but my favourites are No Love Allowed (Man down much), Loveeeee Song, Nobody’s Business and HALF OF ME!

    My favourite album is still Rated R

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    chris shorts Reply:

    @Ana, this album is good really good i like it alot … .#HUGE RIRI fan … but i still have to say Rated R has to be Her Best Body of Work but Unapologetic is really sick ..

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    STFU I'm Famous Reply:

    @chris shorts, & whats crazy is that Rihanna wrote mosto of the songs on her Rated R album. The songs we love she help write.

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  6. allove

    the album is very reminiscent of rated r…not as dark but contains that same personal level that i liked. And the reviews are just about the same…either you loved rated r or you hated it and i think thats the same with this album…if she had taken more time however with coming out with this album the reviews wouldve probably been better

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  7. MusicJunkie

    This Album Was Rushed & It Shows . Her Best Album will Always Be Good Girl Gone Bad . I Miss That Rihanna . This Rihanna Just Releases Music . Lol

    [Reply]

    Diego Reply:

    @MusicJunkie, Agree she is selling off hype her material sucks on this album

    [Reply]

    MusicJunkie Reply:

    @Diego, yupp ‘ But She ” Rihanna ” So Its Gonna Sell . Her Writers Deserve All The Credit .

    [Reply]

    Speechless Reply:

    @MusicJunkie, I totally agree. That album was diverse and fresh versus her stuff full of cursing and talking about material things.

    [Reply]

  8. calvin turner

    there’s only two songs i dont like off this album “Lost in Paradise” and “Phresh off the Runway”…i HATED “POUR IT UP” but that has grown on me

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  9. balenciaga

    i hate when ppl say album are rushed tf. shes ant artist she suppose to be consistent with her music not wait 2 3 years in-between each album like most i like the fact that im sure ill get an album from her every year its exciting to me because it shows shes actually working…there no such thing as a rushed album when your in the studio all the time…no one says anything about beys albums being rushed when she records an album in a week..ppl kill me with the double standards just let Rih be great!sheesh! lol I think its a solid piece of work as all of her other albums have been yes its a little more urban i see most dont understand it thats the phase shes in and i love it!lol

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    JFREEDOM Reply:

    @balenciaga, ARGEED! If you think a year is a long time to be absent from releasing constant fresh music! The thing with RiRi is her song last year- long till the next album which is a great sign of her brand!

    Rihanna= Year- to- year album to equal the same money as Adele/ Beyonce= 2-3 year albums.

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  10. Natasha

    I agree that its not Eminem’s best on “Numb” but cant deny you’ll want to listen to his part again.

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    Natasha Reply:

    @Natasha, you can’t

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  11. #RihannaNAVi

    As a Rihanna fan, I see major improvements every time she releases a new album. This is by far my favourite album from her. People these days are hard to impress! They expect way too much from her despite the fact she’s only 24 & has 7 albums.
    Screw these reviews! I’ll give it 10/10.
    NOW GO BUY UNAPOLOGETIC!!

    [Reply]

    JFREEDOM Reply:

    @#RihannaNAVi, Yes! As a musician with not te most excellent voice, she knows how to please and what music to do!

    Unlike Beyonce/Adele who’s voice carry them and can be absent from music because they have decades left, other’s cannot be eg- RiRi, Nicki, Le$ha, KatyP, JustinB- So they MAKE THE RACKS NOW!

    [Reply]

    MusicJunkie Reply:

    @JFREEDOM, lmaoo ‘ was that suppose to be a compliment to her ?

    [Reply]

  12. Speechless

    I think Talk That Talk was better. I only like 3 songs off this album. Her stans must be mental sayin this is her best album because they say that EVERY time she puts an album out.

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    Natasha Reply:

    @Speechless, Most if not all fans & stans does the same with their favorite artists, its NOT just Rihanna’s! Artists makes music for their fans NOT critics. Any approval they want to win, is their fans approvals. Rihanna great job on ‘ Mother Mary’, ‘ Half of me’, ‘ Nbody’s Business’, ‘ Loveeeee Song’, and ‘ Stay’ which I felt you didn’t need to make it into a duet. Actually all the songs you feat with other artist would have been better with just you, with exception of ‘ Nobody’s Business’ with Chris Brown and maybe Future.

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  13. fresh (navy)

    so aum rap-up used the worst reviews

    rollingstones MTV and Billboards gave better reviews buhhh its cool rap-up is nickiminaj.com

    i see the hate

    [Reply]

    Diced Reply:

    @fresh (navy), Actually the Real music mags have good reviews for the album.

    I found it hard to listen to the first time around,because of the whole Chris Brown connotations that it held. I let go of my prejudices and vola I discovered a Gem of an Album. I loved her on Rated R and I loved her on Loud this album gives me the best of both. For me this is the album I knew she could do.

    I know she has not taken credit for her writing on this album but if you go to her web site you will see the sounds that she did help write and how much of an influence she has had on this album.

    I just think that Rihanna is a dark writer and that is why her truly Pop stuff has little or no writing by her.

    I did not think the critics would like this album but am surprise that even the ones who hate it still give a 3-3.5/5. If the critics would stop judging her personal life which is her “personal life” and judge her music instead they would discover the Gem that I have in this album.

    For me this is Rihanna at her best and I cannot wait to see what her team comes up with for her tour. This tour is going to be grand..Its an arena and Stadium tour and it is going to be a special

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  14. Pereezy YMCMB MMG

    Why, Why? Rih Should’ve wait a lil’ bit and cook up better, This album is her worst work so far… I’m desappointed.

    [Reply]

    fresh (navy) Reply:

    @Pereezy YMCMB MMG, your YMCMB and you complain about shitty music ?! im done

    weezy been fell off nicki is the poster child for THE STRUGGLE check PF-RR album sales and her recent single sales….

    there is only one talented artist in young money and its drake so keep it tha fuck cute.

    [Reply]

    VMili Reply:

    @fresh (navy), Sales mean nothing, music is for the people that like it, music is an opinion, you can’t force it to sell, just cause you don’t like someones opinion doesn’t mean you should diss other artists, i guess you can’t handle truth

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    Oh Reply:

    @fresh (navy), But Rihanna was STRUGGLING selling her album Rated R on pizza coupons? Oh and Nicki has the BEST-SELLING RAP ALBUM, released THIS YEAR! And for Rihanna to be such a A-LIST CELEB ! WHY is she only able to make #1 singles, but not a #1 album? I bet you she doesnt go Platnium this year or next year.

    [Reply]

  15. Audrey Hepburn

    “Dragging down Eminem?” Really L.A. Times?

    Trust me, Eminem needs no help in being drug down. *cues cymbal rimshot*

    LOL. :D

    [Reply]

    roy Reply:

    @Audrey Hepburn, nice

    [Reply]

  16. Outlaw420

    Eminem is sell out pop pu$$y.Doing songs with this No talent pop bi*ch Smh

    [Reply]

    Natasha Reply:

    @Outlaw420, wow! GOD blesses you too. So much hate for someone you probably never even met, let alone even know them personally.

    [Reply]

  17. thor

    gosh riri what did you do? i hate this album! just a few songs that i like out of 15 mtcheeew

    [Reply]

  18. Token

    I like the album overall. I see what she was going for. I felt that the first half of the album went for a “The Roc” sorta feel and I liked that. I must be the only one that goes nuts to Fresh Off The Runway. It’s a wild, N*ggas In Paris feel. Of course I love Diamonds, who doesn’t. I hate Numb, which is unfortunate because I love Rihanna and Slim Shady together, and hate is such a strong word. Pour It Up is also one of my favorites. Instant strip club anthem that you can vibe out to. Loveee Song is a brilliant collaboration with Future. Rihanna shines on the track. At first I didn’t like Jump, only because of the Dubstep drops that seem mindless. Then I realize the delivery and it’s done in such a new, cool way. It also helps Rihanna’s always great with the dirty talk we all love. Right Now is another song I do not like. It lacks something in the feeling of the song. It also doesn’t seem to fit to me. It’s not “The Roc”, but it doesn’t steer us where the album is headed either. What Now fits that role perfectly. A snare driven ballad that catches you instantly. Rihanna’s voice blends so innocently, then erupts through the chorus. Vulnerable, a side she rarely shows. Stay, stays on the same path. The snares strip away to pianos and the words are even more bone chilling. Mikky Ekko is phenomenal and blends stunningly with Rihanna. Nobodies Business is another brilliant collaboration. It brings you up from the soul cleansing, and is purely infectious. Rihanna and Chris Brown shine, while telling you off very politely. You can’t help but to love this song. Love Without Tragedy/Mother Mary spirals you out of the illusion that you’re back to a party vibe. No, because in some way, Nobody’s Business was emotional. This track hits deep, and home. It’s the first time, Rihanna keeps the same vulnerability since What Now but, she really gives us her truth. Get It Over With is a beautiful ballad. It’s still along the same path, but this time more of a chill out vibe. No Love Allowed gives us a taste of the islands, and like the islands, is a instant love. Mellow, but with conviction. Love In Paradise keeps the same conviction. The intricate Dupstep sprinkled in the chorus is actually a great touch. Half Of Me ends the album on a beautiful note. It leaves you feeling like you’ve actually learned a little of who Rihanna is all in all. She’s a prominent young woman who loves to have fun. She has a wild side, so what, who doesn’t. She’s also a hopeless romantic getting on with life. She’s unapologetic for that. She’s not unapologetic for who you see, but for who this album is trying to tell you she is. I learned a lot, and really only disliked two songs on the journey. Unapologetic gets it’s message across to me, A.

    [Reply]

    MUSIC HEAD Reply:

    @Token, great review it’s pretty much relates to mines. you actually got the message of this album.

    [Reply]

    flysly Reply:

    @Token, u really did just type an essay. wow LMAO

    [Reply]

    flysly Reply:

    @Token, U REALLY DID JUST TYPE AN ESSAY

    [Reply]

    divinebrown Reply:

    @Token, can’t believe I just read all of that…good job and great review (better than the ones up top). You should pursue journalism because you have quite a way with words.

    [Reply]

    Diced Reply:

    @Token, The truth!!!!!

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  19. C94B

    People saying how critics went hard. What did you expect ? She is a label-created machine. It’s her fourth album in four years.

    [Reply]

  20. Meme

    This is my absolute fav album from rihanna. U can’t put it in a box…it’s everything. The perfect mix of what’s current but still urban at the same time. The lyrical content of the songs ate just amazing. She has done an amazing job in putting together a strong team and putting out an amazing material.

    Stand out tracks for me are jump, which should without question be a single. Num, which steals the damn show, this joint is so crazy and em was epic on this. And stay which should also be a single.

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  21. Free Your Mind

    Tough reviews but the title is called #Unapologetic for a reason!

    [Reply]

  22. MUSIC HEAD

    I actually love this album, one of my fav from her but guess it depends on everyone taste. Unapologetic is her most experimental yet adventurous album which caters to a wide range of audience that consist of different genres from the r&b/uraban hip hop democgraphic (phresh off the runway, pour it up) to the indie/pop-tarts (stay, diamonds), the dubstep music heads (jump, right now) and the reggae hippies (no love allowed, loveeee song) and to some extent the rockers..and as whole the album flows naturally without coming off contrive and inconsistant 4/5

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  23. Superiority

    Though she needs to go away for a couple years, she still has some good shit on this record: “Jump”, “Numb (f/ Eminem)”, “Stay (f/ Mikky Ekko)” & “Phresh Out The Runway” which is incredibly good for Guetta track.

    [Reply]

    divinebrown Reply:

    @Superiority, I can’t stand that damn Phresh Out the Runway! The rest is dope tho…

    [Reply]

    Superiority Reply:

    @divinebrown, it’s quite similar to “Birthday Cake” though (guess you didn’t like it).

    There are way more annoying tracks such as “What Now”. Her vocals are terrible on it(WHAAAAAAAT!! NOOOOOOOW!!)

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  24. Lauren

    I really enjoyed this album, although I haven’t purchased one of hers and haven’t been a big fan since the Rated R era. Just using these Unapologetic tracks for choreography. I feel some of these reviews are a bit harsh, but Riri’s a tough girl. She’s get over it.

    [Reply]

  25. chris shorts

    this is a great album when you consider the sound influence its heavy with dubstep influences like its dark but progressive .. its not her best but i wouldnt call it rushed or bad at all …. best songs on the album 5.Pour It Up 4. What Now 3.Lost In Paradise 2. Love Without Tragedy / Mother Mary 1. Love Song

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  26. Raj

    Maybe the critics wouldn’t be so painfully right if she wasn’t releasing an album (nearly) every year. She’s everywhere. Though some of these reviews are probably out of spite, it’s not like the words aren’t true.

    [Reply]

  27. will

    Pour it Up is a banger!!!!!

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  28. Rihannawillneverhavea#1album

    Ummmm…. yeeaaa!!! The critics are finally not kissing this bajan voodoo dolls behind, its about time. This album is just overall all different kinds of atrocious. I downloaded the entire thing free .99 and I feel like every track was a waste of space for my computer. Seriously all hail the Queen Beyonce when she releases in 2013 for the real greatness aI know is on the way. For now I will continue to rock to Ciara’s material because she atleast can entertain and write her material plus that track Sorry was real! As far as Mz. Robyn Rihanna Fenty, she needs to sit down for a lil while because this album is not the Wave.A Girl Like Me,Good Girl Gone Bad, Rated R was definitely dope, everything afterwards is Traaaaash (with a capital T)

    [Reply]

    JBRND Reply:

    @Rihannawillneverhavea#1album, LOL how silly of you with your name, when Unapologetic is actually headed for a #1 debut next week.. you should be ashamed

    [Reply]

    Oh Reply:

    @JBRND, But sales don’t = talent. She can sell all the albums she wants, but the music is just trash……..

    [Reply]

    King Fierce Reply:

    @Oh, PREACH….THE END.
    /-)

    [Reply]

    MusicJunkie Reply:

    @King Fierce, church ! !

    [Reply]

  29. RihannaNavy

    it dont matter what yall say or them cause her album out sold nicki and keyshia and her song Diamonds just went #1 yall stay hating

    [Reply]

    Jake Reply:

    @RihannaNavy, And this benefits you how? Is she paying your bills? Oh.

    [Reply]

    kaykay Reply:

    @RihannaNavy, yeah but Nickis wasnt a real album so your point is invalid it was an

    [Reply]

  30. Hones.T.

    We all know Rated R is Rihanna’s best album. Unapologetic is just the other side of it. You have to recognize the album. When I first heard it I didn’t like it at all, but its an album that grows on you. I don’t love every song but the album is one of her best.

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  31. TheOnlyOne

    I’ve hated everything Rihanna has done with the exception of Rated R so I was not expecting much from this at all but I’m actually blown away by how creative and artistic this album sounds. There’s so much diversity in sound, and yet it still sounds cohesive and ‘Rihanna’. If she left out that David Guetta song this album would be 10/10

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  32. sharquality

    Unapologetic made me be a fan of Rihanna’s music again. Its like part two of Rated R which is my fav! She can keep that pop/techno mess

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  33. GSTAR

    guess what? say whatever u want….. im the type who dont give a f*$K! u laugh @ me…. I laugh @ your bank account lol! – rihannabit45!

    [Reply]

  34. Ldragon

    Power it up

    [Reply]

  35. Diced

    If Rihanna do a Reggae album she would not have to do another album for me.

    Rated R and Apologetic is my favorites by her!

    Just one Full Reggae Album Rihanna and I will be your slave for life!!

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  36. l0v3Rihanna

    yessss Rih ily girllll

    [Reply]

  37. Shavon

    I love this cd and I think it’s one of her best

    [Reply]

  38. Pour boomz RearzTues

    nice

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  39. Jono

    “When I first heard it I didn’t like it at all, but its an album that grows on you” – I feel the exact same way – the first 6 songs are all solid. I gave it another listen today and it ruled.

    [Reply]

  40. Rihanavy

    @chris shorts, Jump’s drop makes it the best track on the album, therefore single handedly anialating every other song unopologetically.

    [Reply]

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