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As Rihanna sings, the wait is over - her fourth, and most difficult album
, has arrived. And she makes no secret of the fact that it's been a mighty tough one in the making.
This is Rihanna, or Robyn Rihanna Fenty's, outlet. The angst, humiliation and despair of being at the centre of a high-profile domestic violence case has been channelled into her craft, to produce an album that is dark, sharp and deeply evocative.
Rihanna emerged on the American music scene as a striking 15-year-old from Barbados with a booming voice and a penchant for a boogie. Under the guidance of Jay-Z she quickly grew into the
Good Girl Gone Bad
of album three.
Now the 21-year-old is more like the Bad Girl gone tough - and if the thick bass doesn't give it away the lyrics will: "I'm so hard," she sings in her third track.
features a team of her believers, including One Republic frontman Ryan Tedder, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake, Soulja Boy, Shontelle, Jay-Z and Pharrell Williams.
It makes for a diverse album that not only shows off her strength in vocal range but also her strength in character.
Rihanna may be associated with a whingey voice more than an angelic one, but her delicate side comes through in tracks like
, featuring the Black Eyed Peas' Will.I.Am, a beautiful melody that transforms into a pulsing dance track.
This album may be the product of heartbreak, but it still delivers Rihanna's talent for singing songs to shake to - the best track for that is
Don't expect any cutesy "ella ella ella"'s here. She's a big city girl now - a Rock Star - and she knows weakness will not get anyone anywhere. Sure, there may be provocative near-nudity all over the album cover, but this is Rihanna, and she has never been one to hide herself away.