Rihanna has been teasing the release of her ninth studio album (titled R9 for now, by fans) for years now. So much that it has become a joke at this point. It feels like we have reached the turning point of excitement and hype to feeling like we are in a hopeless place. Slowly, fans are showing resentment towards the artist instead of going along with it. It obviously didn’t help that she has been teasing it for ever now.
Rihanna last released solo music in 2016 with her highly-acclaimed ANTI album. While most album cycles happen within a three-year window, it is not unusual for artists to wait four or even five years to put out their next record. This isn’t even a dig at Rihanna for waiting so long necessarily. It takes time to make a work of art. And sure, she has proven that she can have a fast-turnaround in years prior. She used to release albums almost every year – and quite frankly, her bop-heavy catalogue speaks for itself.
The real problem here is the never-ending, needless teasing.
The baseless promises started in 2018; back then, she promised fans new music was around the corner. It all went as far as Rolling Stone publishing an article detailing a dancehall album that had 500 songs ready to be filtered down to 10 for R9. This was two years ago with music that had been recorded prior to that. She did the same again in 2019 – going as far as promising it would come out that year. In the same promise, you can see that she seems to enjoy playing around with her fanbase: the Rihanna Navy.
Some fans have now admitted feeling like the coronavirus pandemic might further delay the release of this album. This is likely the case, but it doesn’t have to be.
Recently, we made the case for why it is time for artists to stop delaying album releases because of COVID-19. Promoting in album the traditional way might be difficult now as everything is very limited. However, there are ways to adapt. Not to mention, people have way more time to consume content. Everything from Netflix to Spotify streaming is currently up since the virus forced people to shelter at home. Additionally, we are living very trying times. Rihanna could definitely lighten up the room now more than ever before.
Expanding on the content consumption note, there have been rumors swirling around that Rihanna’s next album will follow the Beyonce visual album model. Meaning that a lot of the songs, if not all, would be accompanied by a music video. To clarify, there is so many so-called ‘details’ about this album that seems to never see the light of day. Therefore, this might not be true. Perhaps, it was true at some point. If it is true, it definitely helps with the argument that the timing of the release could not be any better than now.
The Fenty brand is cute and all. People are buying the makeup. People are buying the clothes. But people also want to buy the music. Rihanna, it’s time to release R9 … or a statement that it won’t come anytime soon.