Rihanna can’t post a picture of her dinner without getting bombarded with “WHERE’S THE ALBUM SIS?!” comments. It’s been five years since ‘Anti’ dropped, and the Navy are getting impatient. It’s been speculated that we might not ever get another Rih record, but with plenty of hints from Pharrell, Diplo, and Miss Fenty herself, we’re not losing hope yet. Here’s everything we know about R9.
When will Rihanna’s new album be released?
A question only Rihanna knows the answer to. The release date for R9 has been moved back multiple times, likely shifting around as she works on it alongside her beauty empire, Fenty Beauty, and lingerie line, Savage X Fenty.
In July 2021, Rihanna and new boyfriend A$AP Rocky were papped on the streets of New York, reportedly filming an A$AP music video. In an interview with GQ, in which he called Rihanna “the love of his life”, A$AP confirmed that Rihanna would feature on his next record, ‘All Smiles’.
As for her own solo work, in March 2021, Rihanna confirmed that we will hear new music “soon”. The singer jumped in the comment section of an Instagram post, responding to a fan asking about new music.
A fan asked Rihanna to “celebrate by releasing a song,” to which Rihanna replied, “I think I should” with a ‘soon’ emoji, before adding “just 1 tho lol”. Is she just playing? Or could this mean that R9 will be with us soon?
She’s been teasing the album since 2018, first stating in an Instagram comment responding to questions of R9’s whereabouts that’d it’d be coming in 2019. Of course, that year came and went with no signs of an album.
In early 2019, she shared a clip from the studio featuring a very faint vocal.
By the end of the year, she’d posted a clear indication that it was done in the form of this bopping dog video, captioned “me listening to R9 by myself and refusing to release it”. Come on Robyn!
When 2020 came around, she told British Vogue she was “aggressively working on new music”, hinting that the album wasn’t done after all, and quotes from Pharrell and singer-songwriter Skylar Grey confirm something is happening.
In an interview with Allure, Pharrell noted that he and Chad Hugo – as The Neptunes – are helping engineer her ninth record, saying “Rih is in a different place right now. Like, wow. She’s from a different world.”
Skylar Grey also confirmed she was working on a reggae-inspired track with Diplo for Rihanna in a since-deleted Instagram post saying “I was working with Diplo on a song for Rihanna. Wrote this with a guy named Hymn. […] This was when Rihanna was supposedly doing some kind of reggae album. I don’t know if she’s still making a reggae album or what, but this is a song we did for it. I don’t have the whole song, I’m just going to play you a piece of it, and it probably won’t sound great because it’s an iPhone recording of the speakers.”
In a recent Instagram pic, Rihanna’s comments were flooded with comments regarding the new LP, but this time she shut them down, replying “this comment is sooo 2019. Grow up.” Whoops.
What is Rihanna’s new album called?
No name has been released, yet fans and Rihanna alike are referring to it as R9.
What’s Rihanna’s new record going to sound like?
So far, all signs point to a reggae-inspired album, with Rihanna going back to her Bajan roots for her ninth full-length.
She mentioned this in a 2019 interview with Vogue, stating “I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album. It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks. Reggae always feels right to me. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t matter how far or long removed I am from that culture, or my environment that I grew up in; it never leaves. It’s always the same high. Even though I’ve explored other genres of music, it was time to go back to something that I haven’t really homed in on completely for a body of work.”
With Diplo having a hand in it, we could expect some Major Lazer style production, or she could surprise us with something else entirely.
Who will feature on Rihanna’s new album?
It looks like Pharrell Williams will be handling production duties, and as mentioned, it’s been said that Diplo is working on a track too.
A Pharrell feature makes sense – RiRi popped up on N.E.R.D’s 2017 record ‘No One Ever Really Dies’ – but it’s otherwise completely open. Previously collaborating with everyone from Drake, SZA, Future and Eminem to Coldplay and Maroon 5, to Calvin Harris and David Guetta, right back to Sean Paul and Vybz Kartel; it really could go anywhere.
Have we heard any tracks from R9?
Not a peep. Since ‘ANTI’, Rihanna has only released music as features on N.E.R.D’s ‘Lemon’, Kendrick Lamar’s ‘LOYALTY’ and PARTYNEXTDOOR’s ‘Believe It’ – all tracks for their respective records.
There’s the track Skylar Grey previewed on Instagram, but we’re not sure of a title or – judging by what she says in the clip – if it’ll see the light of day at all. Listen to the potential track below.
Whatever is coming, we’re more than ready to hear it.