Song Review: Rihanna Is Back To ‘Work’

rihanna-work

“Work,” the first official single from ANTI was released today and it doesn’t disappoint. The smooth track, which features Rihanna’s longtime friend and collaborator Drake, finds Rihanna spilling over into familiar territory.

On “Work” Rihanna doesn’t leave anything to chance. The Caribbean Pop Queen showcases her best dance-hall vocals and gives us a taste of just what is missing from most pop music in the last year.

The island jam isn’t anything out of the ordinary from bad girl Rih Rih– but it certainly does show her growth and confidence to do the records that “work” her. Let’s call this the music equivalent to a movie sequel. “Work” is a blockbuster sequel continuing the epic collaborations of Rihanna and Drake from “What’s My Name” to “Take Care.”

None of us will know the true reason Rihanna’s eight studio album was delayed but “Work” offers a familiar,yet daring track as a lead single, something other singles that were thrown out there last year failed to do.

Whether or not the audience connects right away with “Work” it will surely grow on them– and they should be ready because between all the deals this music mogul has been making she’s going to make sure you hear her “Work.”

Words by @MichaelHowardTV

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Concert Review: Keyshia Cole Pulls a Lauryn Hill at The Fillmore Charlotte

As people waited in long lines to flood their favorite retailers for Black Friday sales, I traveled from Columbia, SC to Charlotte, NC to see Keyshia Cole at The Fillmore Charlotte.

I arrived to the AvidXchange Music Factory venue at 6:27 p.m. Unlike lines at retailers Friday, where the wait is unavoidable and uncomfortable, I was perfectly at ease being the 20th concert-goer in line.

Ten minutes later, more attendees followed behind to patiently wait for doors to open at 7 p.m.

Undressed and shivering in 37 degree weather, I struck up conversation about ticket cost with Keyshia Cole admirers. “We won our tickets off Streetz 103.3,” one couple said.

Another fan said, “I bought mine off Groupon for $39. I love you Keyshia but I wasn’t spending more than $50.” I agreed since I got my ticket at the same deal.

Doors opened three minutes after 7 p.m. After getting patted down and having my ticket scanned by The Fillmore door staff, I bypassed other fans and jetted to the front of the stage to wait for the show.

Some fans claimed their spot at the head of the stage barricade too. Other fans found empty floor space to stand comfortably before those at the bar filled in the gaps.

At 7:17 p.m., MMG’s DJ MC got settled with his laptop and other stereo equipment on the smoky stage. He came fully equipped to have the crowd lit with his mega mix and fly DJing skills.

As fog occupied the stage, nostalgia filled rest of the room. DJ MC had fans right where he wanted them – in a carefree zone. Music lovers used their outside voice to recite explicit lyrics and sing classic R&B and hip-hop songs including “I Get Money” by 50 Cent, UCB’s “Sexy Lady” and “Nice and Slow” by Usher.

The VIP clique didn’t let their lack of essential amenities (i.e. chairs or tables) get in the away of their party. The wall worked perfectly for grinding.

DJ MC had help getting the crowd excited from 92.7 The Block hosts Chewy Torres and Sunshine Anderson – yes, “Heard it All Before” Sunshine Anderson, too.

By 9:02 p.m., fans were chanting, “We want Keyshia.”

Ten minutes later, DJ MC was breaking down his equipment to make room for GO DJ HI C, Keyshia’s official DJ.

I don’t know if the crowd was aggravated and ready for Keyshia but the energy shifted downward when he got on stage.

It felt like we changed the radio dial to a new station but got the same syndicated countdown – just with a harder thumb. GO DJ HI C’s blaring speaker bass creeped into my torso as if I had just painfully swallowed it.

A few recycled songs in, GO DJ HI C announced at 9:24 p.m., “I just got a text. My boss is about to hit the stage.”

Eager to record Keyshia’s opening note, I pulled out my iPhone to capture every minute. With 69 percent battery life, I tapped on the Facebook icon to start a live stream.

With no background singers in sight or any Fillmore staff prepping the stage for Keyshia’s arrival, it was evident GO DJ HI C’s receipt had no validity.

“This is ridiculous,” mumbled a female patron behind me. “I hope she shows up because she bailed before.”

As the DJ played more music and strolled through his cellphone, another female fan offered commentary. “If I wanted to listen to music for two hours I would have went to a club.”

It was 9:40 p.m. and the crowd began to get restless. Four-letter words started to be heard in the now tight quarters — most were directed to GO DJ HI C.

He attempted to ease the last nerve of fans. “Ya’ll chill,” he roared in the mic. “I wouldn’t be here if she wasn’t coming out. She’s not coming out until she can hear you guys in her dressing room.”

GO DJ HI C also tried to hype the crowd for Keyshia’s entrance. “I need the left side to say ‘Keyshia’ and the right to say ‘Cole,’” as he pointed to each side of the room.

Some were interested in crowd participation but others weren’t. I was apart of the latter group.

The DJ returned to the mic at 9:43 p.m., and began an introduction for a Grammy nominated artist.

Cell phones brighten the dark venue momentarily but quickly dimmed when attendees realized it wasn’t the headliner gracing the stage — it was Sunshine Anderson.

Used to distract fans from Keyshia’s CP time, the singer-turned radio personality tipped on stage in open-toe heels, donning a simple black top with un-curve friendly black tights.

With support of a backtrack, the North Carolina native noticeably lipped the lyrics to “Lunch or Dinner” from her 2001 debut, Your Woman.

Sunshine bought Keyshia more time to hit the stage as she started to actually sing her signature song “Heard It All Before.” It was obvious she didn’t warm up her voice. Her vocal execution reflected especially towards the collapsed bridge.

Despite Sunshine not possessing vocal conviction, she had the heart to fight through it.

The unimpressed concert-goers softly clapped to see Sunshine off the stage.

Two minutes before 10 p.m. a gentleman rocking a pink backpack sashayed on stage. Before exiting, he left two styrofoam cups on a stage podium.

“When you see him, that means Keyshia’s on her way,” shouted GO DJ HI C across the room.

Exactly seven minutes after 10 p.m., GO DJ HI C took the mic again and finally grabbed the audience’s attention. “Ladies and gentlemen, Keyshia Cole.”

With help from her security, the woman of the last two hours, walked up the side steps of the stage.

Dressed in a suede trench coat with matching heeled boots and ripped jeans, the Just Like You songstress kicked off the delayed show singing “I Should Have Cheated” off her first album, The Way It Is.

Keyshia quickly asked the audio engineer to adjust her inner ear before capping the song with an extended high note.

Joined by her three male dancers, the Oakland-bred singer moved swiftly through her medley of hits including “Enough of No Love,” “Shoulda Let You Go,” “I Changed My Mind” and “You.”

After wrapping up her remix to Chris Brown’s “Loyal,” Keyshia took off her winter coat to show off her shimmering silk shirt. Without officially apologizing for her tardiness, she mentioned being thankful for her fans as a means for damage control.

It didn’t seem to work, and she knew it. “Okay. Let’s go into the next song then,” she told GO DJ HI C.

She belted her biggest hits “I Remember,” and “Love” before she engaged in personal conversation with the crowd.

From requesting the crowds opinion on if she should back to Love and Hip-Hop: Hollywood to explaining why she opted to skip Thanksgiving dinner with her newly found dad, Virgil Hunter, Keyshia sincerely asked for fans to send her a prayer up the main line.

Thirty minutes into her set, Keyshia wanted fans to tell her what to perform next. Most songs fans mentioned like “Vault” and “Emotional” from her 11: 11 Reset album were off limits.

“This isn’t the tour guys,” she replied with a smile. “The tour doesn’t start until next year. But I cannot wait to perform those songs though.”

While she didn’t perform demanded cuts from her new album, she gave us “Incapable” along with a similar dance routine from the single’s accompanying visual.

Following three more songs, Keyshia ended the 45-minute set with her Grammy nominated record, “Let It Go.”

Before leaving the stage, she directed fans to meet her at Stats Restaurant and Bar for the official after-party.

Honestly, I feel like I wasted a trip to Charlotte. I didn’t leave with a wow experience. I expected her to sing more material from her silently released album. Yet, my wish didn’t come to fruition.

Keyshia treated her Fillmore performance like an afterthought. It appeared to me that she got a calendar reminder while she caught Black Friday sales on Fashion Nova’s website. After realizing her spot date, she called her style team and caught a red-eye flight to Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Keyshia’s lateness was inexcusable and warranted a more sincere apology. Instead she rushed through her sloppy set list to get to the after-party.

Her running behind schedule wouldn’t have been terribly bad if she had a legit special guest. And I’m sorry, Sunshine Anderson doesn’t count.

Collectively, the two hours of DJing, the talent show performance from Sunshine Anderson and Keyshia Cole’s tardiness calls for a total refund. But I’m sure Live Nation is incapable of issuing it to us.

Chart Check: Lyrica Anderson and A1 Heat Up Urban Radio, K. Michelle Lands on Urban AC

Lyrica Anderson A1 Bentley K. Michelle

Welcome back to another edition of Chart Check! Each week, Rated R&B provides detailed insight to the chart movements of your favorite R&B artists and R&B songs. In this updated format, we will discuss Billboard’s Adult R&B Songs (Urban AC) and Nielsen’s Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop National Airplay (Urban) charts extensively. Read below for more information on the week of November 25, 2017:

Urban Radio

Cassie has officially returned with her new single “Love a Loser.” The song, which features rapper G-Eazy, received 14 adds on urban radio formats in the latest tracking week. This is Cassie’s first single since “The Boys” with Nicki Minaj, which was released in 2012.

Married musicians and Love and Hip Hop: Hollywood” stars Lyrica Anderson and Floyd “A1” Bentley have been working behind the scenes writing and producing songs for other artists for years, but 2017 is looking to be the year for their own work to finally take off. This week, A1’s SWV-sampled single “Always” landed on the official urban radio chart at No. 40. The song, which features Chris Brown and Ty Dolla $ign, gained a 213 spin increase since last week. Meanwhile, Lyrica is floating four spots under with her tune “Don’t Take it Personal,” which is the lead single from her recently released album Adia. The song was spun 496 times and picked up one add at urban radio in the latest tracking week.

N.E.R.D. and Rihanna are two of the music industry’s most elusive acts, but they may have a hit on their hands with their new collaboration “Lemon.” After being released just a few short weeks ago, the bouncy banger has officially landed on the Urban radio chart at No. 39. The song garnered a whopping 420 spin increase at urban formats, the third-most in the latest tracking week.

Urban AC Radio

dvsn is ready to multiply their recent success by sending their first single to radio. That’s right: “Mood” has been selected as the first radio single from their latest album Morning After, which was released on Oct. 13. The single received eight adds on R&B radio formats, which is the most for the latest tracking week.

MAJOR. has returned to the R&B scene with his new single “Honest,” which leapt onto the Urban AC chart at No. 17 last week. The momentum continues this week as the piano driven ballad skips 17-16, garnering a 60 spin increase since last week. The song also received six more adds at R&B radio formats.

With her first charting single, K. Michelle’s new era has officially begun! This week, “Make This Song Cry” landed at No. 27 on Billboard’s Adult R&B chart, thanks to a 51 spin increase since last week. This is the first radio single from the Memphis-bred singer’s upcoming fourth studio album Kimberly: The People I Used to Know, which is set for a Dec. 8 release date.

Quick Notes

And in quick notes: Miguel’s War & Leisure lead single “Sky Walker” is picking up speed as it rises 16-14 on this week’s Urban radio chart. The single received a 282 spin increase and has crossed the 10 million mark in urban radio audience; Rapper DeJ Loaf and singer Jacquees’ new single “At The Club” continues to rise on urban radio, sitting just 3 spots below the official chart. The song received four adds in the latest tracking week; John Legend’s newest Darkness & Light single “Penthouse Floor” debuts at No. 26 on this week’s Urban AC chart. The song, which features Chance the Rapper, was the highest debut of the week; and finally, Kenny Lattimore has finally made a “Push” right onto the Urban AC chart, as he is the last of the three debuts this week. His new single, from his new album Vulnerable, landed at No. 28 with a total of 211 spins at R&B radio and formats.

What about you? Are you feeling Lyrica and A1’s new singles? How well do you think Cassie’s new song will do? Did you enjoy this week’s Chart Check? Let us know how you feel in the comment section below!

Top 5 Tracks from Rihanna’s ‘Unapologetic’ Album

Rihanna Unapologetic album

Rihanna has been, is, and will always be a hit maker; There’s a reason why she has fourteen No. 1 singles spanning all the way back to her second album (and just for the record, her debut single “Pon de Replay” peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.) Coming off her Talk That Talk album in 2011, which featured international hits “We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been,” it was time for Rihanna to take it up another notch when it came to her next album. Working with fresh blood in producers Mike-Will-Made-IT and Labyrinth while enlisting pop mainstays David Guetta and Stargate, the result was Unapologetic: an eclectic mix of EDM, trap, dance, R&B, and pop songs that scaled the musical and lyrical landscape. If this album was an avatar, it’d be “The Last Genre-Bender.”

Unapologetic marked two things: Rihanna’s first artistically complete album and first No. 1 album. While Rated R and Talk That Talk had some “woah” moments, this album found Rihanna elevating her musical core to new heights. She’s still Bad Gal RiRi, but with more wisdom, more vocal strength, and with a newfound sense of artistic confidence. It’s no wonder why it won a Grammy award for “Best Urban Contemporary Album.”

Here at Rated R&B, we’ve compiled what we consider as the best tracks from Rihanna’s seventh studio album. Check out the list below:

“Loveeeeeee Song” (feat. Future)

Future always shines when paired with female artists, but his “Loveeeeeee Song” collaboration with Rihanna might be his best duet to date. The Luney Tunez-produced cut finds the two artists flirting with idea commitment, but being temporarily satisfied with the current arrangement of keeping things purely physical. “I don’t wanna give you the wrong impression / I need love and affection / And I hope I’m not sounding too desperate / I need love and affection,” they sing. On this album full of hard-hitting choruses and club-ready bass drops, this smooth late-night thumper stands out in the best way. Rihanna’s verses and Future’s bridge eventually explodes into a lush, beautifully crafted final chorus between the two of them. If you think “Kiss it Better” is Rihanna’s best bedroom banger, then “Loveeeeeee Song” definitely gives it a run for its money.

“Get It Over With”

While the album spotlights an array of emotional lows and insecurities, there’s a silver lining thanks to this instrument-laden track. Written by Ms. Fenty, Brian Kennedy, and the ever-talented James Fauntleroy, “Get It Over With” is the ballad of broken dreams, but also a song of hope. “It’s dark in the day / I’ll say now don’t complain / Look up the sun is just a cloud away / You’re so afraid to cry / But your heart be feeling dry / It’s time to change,” Rihanna sings in the first verse. Fauntleroy is a master of stacking vocals, so it’s no surprise that we find Rihanna’s background vocals more than on point here. Paired with snaps and solemn violins, this song is the perfect mixture of resilience, strength, and sadness, which is why it makes this list.

“What Now”

Rihanna has mastered the art of emoting over the years, and “What Now” is just one flash of brilliance in her extensive discography. Co-written by fellow Bajan Livvi Franc and British producers Nathan Cassells and Parker Ighile, the song explores the dissatisfaction one feels when they’ve settled, whether that be in love, career, or life in general. “Whatever it is/It feels like it’s laughing at me through the glass of a two-sided mirror/Whatever it is/It’s just laughing at me/And I just wanna scream,” she sings. The lyrics cut just as deep as its smashing chorus, but what really elevates this song is its climax where Rihanna repeats the cadence “I don’t know where to go/I don’t know what to feel/I don’t know how to cry/I don’t know, oh-oh, why!” The winding guitar, raw emotion, and pounding bass culminates into one of the best musical moments on the album.

“Nobody’s Business” (feat. Chris Brown)

Although this collaboration didn’t make as much of a splash as their “Birthday Cake” remix, Chris Brown and Rihanna still shocked fans by linking up on this groovy duet. Co-written by Rihanna and long-time collaborator The-Dream, the song finds the ex-lovers proclaiming their love for each other, and telling off nay-sayers in the process. “You’ll always be mine / Sing it to the world / You’ll always be my boy / I’ll always be your girl / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / Ain’t nobody’s business / But mine and my baby,” they sing. It’s no surprise that this track contains an interpolation from “The Way You Make Me Feel,” because this euro-dance joint feels like a new-age Michael Jackson record. Breezy and Rih trade parts effortlessly; their natural chemistry is apparent. Even five years later, this song feels fresh, yet timeless, which is why it lands on this list.

“Stay” (feat. Mikky Ekko)

There’s always something special about an artist’s voice over a grand piano, which is more than clear on this tender ballad. Written largely in part by featured artist Mikky Ekko, “Stay” is almost like the continuation of “Loveeeeeee Song,” except with more feelings and time invested. “Not really sure how to feel about it / Something in the way you move / Makes me feel like I can’t live without you / And it takes me all the way / I want you to stay,” Rihanna sings. Even though the song is obviously brilliant, the reason it makes this list is because of Rihanna’s vocal showing. While her voice holds the same type of raw emotion as “What Now,” Rih wields it quite differently, drawing the audience in and pulling away with each sharp breath, vocal crack and sustained note. This all lends itself to the push-and-pull of the actual relationship that the song speaks of, which really speaks to her growth artistically and dedication to the edgier, tougher vision for Unapologetic. Major props go to Kuk Harrell, who is the vocal engineer and producer on this song as well as the entire album.

Stream Unapologetic on Spotify below.

What’s your favorite song on Unapologetic? Let us know in the comment section below!

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