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Single Review: Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

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Single Review: Rihanna featuring Drake, “Work”

After a string of underwhelming singles and several momentum-killing delays, Rihanna’s Anti, her first album in over three years, finally looks imminent. This morning the singer released a fourth single, “Work,” the follow-up to “American Oxygen,” which came and went with little fanfare last spring. If the first three duds signaled the end of RiRi’s pop reign following her departure from her longtime label home, Def Jam, the new track has the potential to at least partly justify the gold crown on the album’s cover.

Produced by Boi-1da and featuring a verse by frequent collaborator Drake, “Work” is an understated midtempo jam in the vein of Janet Jackson’s recent “No Sleeep,” with a percolating beat, sinuous synth lines, and vocal samples stretched and pulled in a way that recalls Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis’s masterful production work on Janet’s 1997 album The Velvet Rope.

Unfortunately, the song’s hook consists of the “Towards the Sun” singer repeatedly bleating the title, her vocals a mix of slur and patois that renders the lyrics of the verses basically indecipherable. Which is a shame since they seem to be on point: “If I got right then you might not like it/You know I dealt with you the nicest.”

Listen to the single below:

 

Billboard reports that Anti could be released as soon as this week. You know I’m holding my breath!