Why Rihanna’s “Work” is Working for Tidal

I’m all for trying something new. That seasonal latte. A morning dance party. Sure.

I wasn’t excited to try Tidal. I was reluctant.

Tidal, a new player in offline and online music streaming, was simply a wave in the ocean, but it didn’t make a splash. We’ve felt the promotion. I saw the turquoise blue profile pic change on your Instagram.

This article title alone proves it – “I’m Still Waiting for Jay-Z and ‘Nem to Prove I Need Tidal.” – but  Veronica Wells, Culture Editor of MadameNoire, the leading lifestyle website for black women, goes on to say,

“And while I would love for Jay Z, a Black businessman to be the one to change the game and bring power back to the people who create the music and culture we love, he seems to keep missing opportunities to do just that.”

For those who like Spotify, it felt like with Tidal – Nicki Minaj and Rihanna were for once trying to make something cool that they just couldn’t—that’s until now.

P.S. Tidal is setup exactly like Spotify.

This week I heard a new beat and even when I was recording a Snapchat of the music, I couldn’t stop swaying my hips.

“Rihanna?” I asked my friend at a dinner party.

My friend told me he just downloaded the new track from Tidal, which was offering the one-month free trial version.

Get Ready For “Work”:

The song was “Work”. It was Rihanna. She was back. She wasn’t asking for a rude boy. She wasn’t giving me “Four, Five Seconds.” Rihanna was giving me “something that you’ve never seen,” to quote from the song “Work.”

“You see me…”

It’s got an islander tempo, a sick vibe, and a sultry, repeated plea.

“Da-na-na-na,” she calls with the beat.

She makes me sway, and I had to listen to it.

I was desperate for something new. Something original. And Rihanna is always good at recreating herself with each album. Anti was no exception. She’s not demanding, “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

She’s just playfully talking about something we all have to do, “Work, Work, Work.”

“I hope that this gets to you,” she sings in the song. And yes, Rihanna it got to me.

Rihanna's 8th Album Artwork Reveal
LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 07: Singer Rihanna at Rihanna’s 8th album artwork reveal for “ANTI” at MAMA Gallery on October 7, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for WESTBURY ROAD ENTERTAINMENT LLC)

Drake Adds Comfort:

The song “Work” features Drake. I was pretty excited to hear that Drake and Rihanna were collaborating since it will probably be awhile since we hear a Nicki Minaj and Drake song again.

Drake broke up the islander vibe and added an r&b element to “Work”. He was the man that meets you at the end of a long day with some comfort, maybe a hug. It wasn’t sick like his usual beats. It was his softer side.

But, Rihanna met him at the end of the song and picked up “Work” for a faster beat at the end, and then shifted into a sudden drift off as the music faded quickly after.

How about a round of applause for Drake and Ri-Ri.

“Work” vs. Anti:

Since 1999, I haven’t taken the time to listen to an entire album. That was until Taylor Swift came out and started to change the way I viewed music. She made her album “1989” something I had to have. And, so I bought the cd and created my 25th birthday party around “1989” including a music video in a Chicago bar to the song, “Shake it Off”.

With Taylor Swift, I could still hear her music everywhere. But, it was good as a whole collection. With Rihanna, she hid her music. She hid it behind Tidal. And when I heard her song “Work,” I wanted it on repeat.

So did other people.

When I took the plunge and downloaded Tidal for the trial offer, I listened to “Work,” but then decided to finish the entire album on my commute home.

It’s at the Billboard Chart No. 27 according to The New York Times, “Rihanna’s lowest opening chart position.”

And in the words of HotNewHipHop.com’s, “Review: Rihanna’s ‘Anti:'”

“People began growing impatient around two years ago, and after a sting of singles (“FourFiveSeconds,” “American Oxygen” and “BBHMM”) that pulled her sound every which way, we now get an album that not only omits all of them, but also does away with just about every expectation we have of Rihanna.”

It is “less radio friendly.”

But, what Rihanna does in this album is she whines. She calls. You can hear her dragging out her words and turning them into ballads for attention.

At the same time, it’s classy. It’s cultured. I feel like I am in a ballroom with her song “Higher.” She starts off the song with “This whiskey got me feeling pretty/So pardon if I’m impolite.”

Anti offers nothing that I would want to put on repeat (although I have), except for her main single “Work”. Rihanna has always been artsy, bold and daring, but this time, she shed her pop top hits for varied beats that sound like they are part of a western, i.e. “Desperado,” or good lyrics overrun with desperate longing to be loved in the song, “Love on The Brain,” which includes the lyrics ” You love when I fall apart (fall apart)/ So you can put me together/ And throw me against the wall.”

The album, Anti has received mixed reviews. Some look at it as a flop when looking at the numbers. Vibe called it “gold…if you’re willing to give it a try”.

Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music:

Dear Rihanna, you did it. You got me to download Tidal. I don’t know if I’ll stay. But being exclusive with your music definitely changed how I thought about music.

Are the music streaming services going to turn into record labels where only certain musicians will sign with selective music streaming services? So far, Taylor Swift has Apple Music and Rihanna is a partner in Tidal. Of course, now everything is available on iTunes.

Will you go green or go blue? It’s the question in Michigan and now it’s the question in the music world of free vs. paid music.

 

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