For months, Rihanna’s dedicated legion of fans, collectively known as the Rihanna Navy, have been flooding her Instagram notifications with “Where’s the album?” comments. It’s closer than they think.
Multiple sources confirm to Us Weekly exclusively that the Grammy winner, 30, recently finished recording her ninth album, with one insider explaining that the vocals are done but “mastering and more behind-the-scenes stuff” are still in the works. It is the highly anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Anti, which spawned the hit singles “Work” featuring Drake, “Kiss It Better,” “Needed Me” and “Love on the Brain.”
Rihanna confirmed on Instagram in late December that she would release her next record sometime in 2019. Days later, one eager fan commented, “I need music,” to which the singer replied, “It’s still 2018.”
The Barbados native has largely stayed mum about the type of music that fans can expect to hear, but she told Vogue in June 2018 that she planned to make a reggae album before naming the late Bob Marley as one of her favorite artists of all time. A month later, Rolling Stone confirmed that Rihanna had been hard at work for more than a year on an album that explores her Caribbean roots.
“[Rihanna’s team] have, no lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers,” a dancehall producer who asked to remain anonymous told the magazine. “They’re only choosing 10 records. They’ve been having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now. I’ve been flying to Miami, flying to L.A., cutting records nonstop for this project.”
Another unnamed source close to the project told Rolling Stone, “Every artist, every producer, every songwriter in Jamaica or of Jamaican descent has been working on [Rihanna’s album] and has little snippets of publishing or production credits on it.”
Of course, Rihanna is no stranger to dancehall music. She dabbled in the genre with 2009’s “Rude Boy,” 2010’s “Man Down” and 2016’s “Work.”
“R9 is amazing,” vocal producer Kuk Harrell teased on Instagram Live in December, borrowing the nickname that fans have used for the Fenty Beauty founder’s as-yet-untitled ninth disc. “It’s incredible, and that’s all I’m going to say.”
Us Weekly has reached out to Rihanna’s rep for comment.