What do you do when your debut single is a hit, your debut album is making people talk, and your fans expect you to pull more tricks out of your sleeve? You go for the jugular, of course. You dazzle.
Rihanna launched A Girl Like Me not long after she had the nation dancing to Pon De Replay. The album was no Music of the Sun, however; it was something better – better production, better lyrics, better collaboration. The album opens briskly to the pulsating beat of S.O.S and has Rihanna singing:
I’m obsessive when just one thought of you comes up
I’m aggressive just one thought of closing up
You got me stressing, incessantly pressing the issue
‘Cause every moment gone you know I miss you.
In Break It Off, she sings a saucy duet with Sean Paul. Then, she segues into the dilemma one faces when one is unfaithful. Unfaithful showcases impressive vocal work from Rihanna. The song tells the story of a woman who is unfaithful to her man. By changing the gender perspective, Rihanna cleverly gives a fresh spin to an overdone, overcooked topic in R&B.
What makes Rihanna’s A Girl Like Me so impressive is that it shows just how much the singer herself has matured between albums. While Music of the Sun pigeonholes Rihanna into the reggaeton medium, or the mix of reggae, hip-hop, and dancehall music.
A Girl Like Me shows much more range and flexibility. In the album, Rihanna skillfully takes elements of pop, rock, and R&B and melds these together seamlessly with her distinctive Caribbean style. Not surprisingly, many tracks in the album went on to become big hits.
Unfaithful, We Ride, and Break It Off quickly rose to the top of the charts, cementing Rihanna’s reputation as a serious artist, not just a girl with amazing beginner’s luck.