Rihanna’s forthcoming dancehall- and reggae-fused studio album is officially on the way. Months after Rihanna revealed her possible plans in a Vogue cover story, Rolling Stone released a feature revealing what’s going on behind the scenes.
Although it is set to be an honest depiction of the sounds that helped shape Rihanna’s musical output, eight sources close to the project shared details about how the album is getting done, but one producer expressed his or her concern with the publication and voiced their doubts surrounding the direction of her upcoming body of work.
“Their whole thing was, ‘Yo, we’re gonna make this [album] real dancehall, [real] Caribbean…Rihanna is Bajan, so let’s make this a full project like that,” he shares. “To me, it hasn’t been going that way. They’re kind of mixing it up, putting in the pop…They’re changing up the direction continuously.”
Despite this concern, those working on the album are hopeful about the untitled project’s impact.
“If the Rihanna album sells great numbers, faith will be restored in the [dancehall] genre as something to be invested in,” said another anonymous dancehall producer.
“No lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers.” shared another producer. “They’re only choosing 10 records…I’ve been flying to Miami, flying to L.A., cutting records nonstop for this project.”
With this being the 9th studio album of her career, the anticipated LP is expected to be a full-on return to the Barbadian singer’s roots, since her first Caribbean hit (Pon de Replay). Since then, Rihanna has been adamant about honoring her culture on major platforms, whether it was in a homage to dancehall at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards or her decision to always let her accent shine in her speaking and singing voice.
Jamaica-born producer Supa Dups—who produced a cut (that featured dancehall superstar Vybz Kartel) on Rihanna’s 2005 debut album—is also rumored to lend his production talent to the upcoming, untitled album.