Rihanna hasn’t exactly been quiet since the release of ANTI more than two years ago: She’s guested on songs by Drake, Calvin Harris, Future, DJ Khaled, and Kendrick Lamar and starred in Ocean’s 8, among other activities. But the time seems about right for her to return with a new album of her own. All reports suggest that project is well underway and that it will be a dancehall album highlighting her Barbadian roots.
A new feature in Rolling Stone sources eight people with knowledge of the album. Two of those people suggest Rihanna is simultaneously assembling a more pop-oriented album. As for the dancehall record, supposedly “every songwriter in Jamaica” is working on it. One of those figures is reportedly Supa Dups, a producer she worked with on the Drake collaboration “Too Good.” (His other recent credits include Drake’s “Controlla,” PartyNextDoor’s “Not Nice,” and Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande’s “Bed.”) Other supposed collaborators include R. City, Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor, Linton “TJ Records” White, Ricky Blaze, Tyshane “Beam” Thompson, Kranium, and Chronixx, as well as names from outside the dancehall world such as Skrillex and Boi-1da.
One unnamed producer reports, “[Rihanna’s team] have, no lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers. They’re only choosing 10 records. They’ve been having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now. I’ve been flying to Miami, flying to LA, cutting records nonstop for this project.”
Another source says, “Every artist, every producer, every songwriter in Jamaica or of Jamaican descent has been working on [Rihanna’s album] and has little snippets of publishing or production credits on it. I think they’ve got eight songs, but her A&R is still asking for records.”
Some of the sources are worried Rihanna’s team is taking the dancehall album in a more pop direction. They’re reportedly not getting to hear the final versions of their submissions before they sign their paperwork. “They’re kind of mixing it up, putting in the pop,” one producer says. “If the reggae artists and producers won’t get the chance on the pop album, at least let us survive on the dancehall album. They’re changing up the direction continuously.”
On the plus side, supposedly labels are reaching out to those involved with Rihanna’s project asking if they have any songs left over, which leads the Caribbean musicians to believe her album will spark a dancehall revival. (Not that it has exactly gone away… Rihanna’s own #1 smash “Work” was one of many, many dancehall-oriented hits in recent years.)