One could say that Rihanna fans have grown impatient waiting for her ninth studio album, but they are past the point of impatience — and for good reason.
The Grammy winner has not released an album since January 2016, when she dropped her magnum opus, Anti, which included the blockbuster singles “Work” featuring Drake, “Needed Me,” “Kiss It Better” and “Love on the Brain.” Since then, she has been teasing and teasing and teasing her next project, but other ventures — such as her multimillion-dollar Fenty Beauty and Fenty Skin brands and welcoming her first child, a baby boy, with ASAP Rocky — have delayed the process.
#R9, as fans have temporarily dubbed the album, has been in the works for many years. Rihanna first confirmed that she was “in the studio and working on new music” in June 2018 while appearing on The Graham Norton Show. Even then, she stayed mum about the details, teasing, “You’ll just have to wait and see.”
When asked for an update 15 months later, the Barbados native was equally tight-lipped. “Well, obviously, I’m a confident woman, so whatever I do, it’s gon’ be confident — whether it’s the album, perfume, lingerie, makeup or fashion,” she told Entertainment Tonight in September 2019. “Y’all gon’ have to wait, Navy. I’m so sorry.”
That said, not everything about the album has been top-secret. Rihanna confirmed that it is inspired by her reggae and dancehall roots, and Pharrell Williams and The Dream are on the shortlist of producers helping her pull it all together. She later confirmed that motherhood wouldn’t totally change her sound.
“My fans would kill me if they waited this long for a lullaby,” she jokingly told Entertainment Tonight during New York Fashion Week in February 2022.
However, her son — whose name has yet to be revealed — might be part of why her album still isn’t out more than four years after she first teased the new project. “They rarely leave their baby’s side,” an insider exclusively told Us Weekly in August 2022 of the Grammy winner and her partner. “They’re being very private about their newborn out of concern for his safety and really just want to keep him away from the public eye for the time being. … They both feel really blessed and couldn’t be happier.”
The Savage x Fenty founder’s loved ones are happy that she is finding a work-life balance. “Rihanna is a workaholic so it’s nice to see her taking the time to flourish in motherhood,” the source added.
However, Rihanna never stays on hiatus for long. She’ll return to the stage at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show for her first major performance since giving birth in May 2022, and fans hope the comeback includes new music.
Scroll down for everything we know so far about #R9: