It’s become something of a trend to lament the lack of new Rihanna music, so much so that each time she shares an update on one of her many other business ventures, like announcing new Savage x Fenty lingerie or new Fenty Beauty bronzer, her fans have taken their complaints to her Instagram comments.
“Who sent you?” is a question Rihanna has taken to asking those who dare bring up the anticipation of her next album. She is very aware that we all want another album, and as someone who has never shied away from speaking her mind, it is only appropriate that she respond directly to the criticism from her fans.
Recently, when two Instagram users told her to “go back to singing” and claimed they “want the album” instead of some new beauty products, Rihanna replied, “i love how y’all tell me what to do. it’s great,” as if to say, you should take whatever Rihanna gives you and appreciate whatever it is that you get, no matter how long it means you have to wait for an official follow-up to ANTI.
Let’s not forget that we have all waited even longer for a new Rihanna album in the past. When Rihanna released her first album, Music of the Sun, in 2005, she released her following six albums nearly one year (or every other year) after the other. ANTI is Rihanna’s eighth studio album, and she released it only three years ago, nearly four years after the release of Unapologetic in 2012. The other reigning queens of contemporary pop—Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Katy Perry, let’s say—have not even released the same number of studio albums that Rihanna has (Beyoncé has six, Gaga and Perry have five), and they’ve been given the luxury of time in between the release of each one. They’ve been able to drum up enough intrigue for when they eventually do drop an album, and they consistently land towards the top of the charts. Years ago, when Whitney Houston, Janet Jackson, and even Mariah Carey dominated the pop charts, we gave them the space and time they needed in between each studio album, and they delivered classic after classic.
So, is it really too much to ask the Navy to let their idol dedicate enough time and energy to her other projects—which include managing Savage x Fenty and Fenty Beauty (an almost one billion brand), starring in a cryptic film with Donald Glover called Guava Island, and facilitating a relationship with her billionaire boyfriend Hassan Jameel—before she jumps back into the studio for her ninth album? Sure, she could hop on a feature—and she has done so, lending her vocals to DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” and N.E.R.D.’s “Lemon” in 2017—but she is already quite busy being a mogul.
In general, it may be possible that we demand too much of these artists too soon. Justin Bieber, who has been touring nonstop for essentially his entire young adult life, recently told his 108 million Instagram followers that while he wants to deliver a followup to his 2015 album, Purpose, he has to repair some issues in his personal life first. Pushing an artist to release something just for the sake of releasing it doesn’t necessarily yield good work. Rihanna should be able to take as long as she wants and needs to release her ninth studio album, and we should all just be grateful when she returns, because you know she will. In some cases, when you stop asking for something so much, that’s the exact moment you end up getting what you need.