Where Have You Been? Here’s Why Rihanna’s Album Is Taking So Long

Seriously, it's time to get real Rih.

By Jasmine Grant

Rihanna boasts the kind of superstar power that makes everything about her mesmerizing. Her witty tweets, badass fashion sense, and sheer deficiency of “phucks” to give aren’t a bad touch either. In an industry where artists that fail to make consistent noise quickly fizzle out of our psyche, Rihanna’s ability to remain relevant and keep us guessing is almost supernatural. But still, the question remains: WHERE IS R8?

While the media has conjured up various theories about what exactly is holding up the release of Rihanna’s eighth studio album, no one in her camp have given us much to go off— save a few teasers of unreleased tracks. Just recently, hit producer Mike WiLL Made-It shared a snippet of a new single “Nothing’s Promised” – another rumbling that the record isn’t too far away. But what’s taken so long? Here are the most logical reasons for why the lid is still locked on R8.

  1. Lukewarm Responses To Rihanna’s Latest Singles

    Historically, Rihanna rarely gets it wrong when it comes to charting. In fact, she’s in a league of her own – tying with Michael Jackson as the only artist with a string of thirteen number-one singles on the Billboard U.S. Hot 100 chart. Unfortunately, RiRi’s latest wave of records has been met with mixed reviews. Rihanna, Paul McCartnery and Kanye West’s tri-fecta of superstardom landed the folky ballad “FourFiveSeconds” prominently on the charts. Following that, Rihanna offered up the Tidal-exclusive “American Oxygen” and the sharply contrasting, hard hitting banger “BBHMM”. Though none of these singles are considered flops stat-wise, they certainly didn’t have the staying power of her previous hits.

    A source for Page Six suggests these teasers leading up to R8 are struggling to break ground. “The singles haven’t caught on,” the alleged insider says. “She’ll be fine because she’s Rihanna — but it’s not a good thing that the songs haven’t stuck.” While “struggle” isn’t a word we normally associate with anything RiRi-related, many feel the instant hit factor just isn’t there yet, and Rihanna isn’t feeling confident in any of her material.

  2. A Change in Creative Direction

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    If there’s one thing we can rely on Rihanna for, it’s those feel good, pop/R&B hybrid dance tracks that turn the entire club up. Better still is Rihanna’s malleable, eclectic sound, which allows her to be a chameleon of genres in a way that few of her peers can. Sadly, word is the “Pour It Up” singer just isn’t finding her groove on this one and decided to start completely from scratch.

    In a recent interview, Rihanna reveals that for the project, her quest is to finally seal her legacy with timeless music and not just one-off party singles. “I’ve made a lot of songs that are really, really big songs,” she told MTV News. “From the jump, they just blow up…but I just wanted to focus on things that felt real, that felt soulful, that felt forever.”

  3. She’s planning a Beyoncé-style Surprise Album Release

    Though it’d make for one hell of a surprise, a Beyonce’-esque spontaneous album release wouldn’t exactly be the most original avenue for RihRih to make her long-awaited comeback. But everyone’s chomping at the bit for new Rihanna material, and outlets have tried (and failed) to predict would-be album release dates. When Rihanna dropped an alluring vintage-inspired cover art for an unnamed project, The Navy took it as a sign that their fave was finally ready to bestow on them the long-awaited album. It turned out to be the cover art for “BBHMM”…a welcome new piece of material but stark reminder she’s still keeping R8 close to the vest.

  4. Rihanna’s Giving Her Fashion Career More Attention

    While Rihanna is definitely putting in work in the booth, as evidenced by recent sightings of her entering and leaving various recording studios, another theory is that her fashion deals have dominated a huge chunk of her schedule, while shifting her music to the backburner. Rihanna’s put her stamp in history as the first black woman to be the face of Dior – not to mention her lucrative deal with PUMA and limited edition MAC products flying off shelves nationwide. Insiders claim that her fashion career has provided a long-overdue break from her 7-album-per-year run. There’s also whisperings in the fashion world of $CHOOL Kills, an upcoming accessories line Rihanna is said to be getting off the ground.