“This is for them 20 somethings.” – Beyoncé
Back in 2016, before the album of the year was wrongfully snubbed after receiving 6 nominations for the 2017 Grammy Awards (yes, I’m still bitter), I tweeted a mood about Rihanna’s latest EP, ANTI.
That’s the thing that I love about ‘Anti’. It’s definitely an album for those maneuvering thru their 20s.
— ☀️ Domi. 🤴🏾 (@xKingDomi) October 19, 2016
I was listening to ANTI and decided to play Beyoncé’s LEMONADE after and it stood out to me how one album deals with the ups and downs of the beginning stages of a relationship and the other deals with the trials and tribulations at the point when you’re completely committed and invested in a relationship. A year and a half later and six months into being 25 years old (cues violins for quarter life crisis), I found myself revisiting the above tweet and realizing how true those words were.
Released on January 28th, 2016, Rihanna released what could easily be hailed as her most career defining album to date. After numerous unconfirmed album push-backs, nobody knew what to expect when the album dropped. At first listen, it seemed as if Rihanna decided to leave the hit-making factory and shell out an album that felt like it barely had any radio friendly hits, but song’s like “Work,” the urban banger “Needed Me,” and “Love on the Brain” proved otherwise.
But besides what felt like an artist ditching her usual, “Let’s make a bop for chart success” formula, ANTI held a deeper, more honest and relatable meaning. Some would think that Rihanna’s 2009 album, Rated R, is her most personal album to date due to the incident with her ex, AKA he-who-shall-not-be-named, but I personally feel that ANTI is a true depiction of what it’s like to grow and deal with a relationship while maneuvering through adulthood.
Listening to ANTI felt like a personal attack, as if Rihanna decided that she wanted to be a fly on the wall like she pays rent and spills the beans on my life story, but instead of wanting to square up with her because who asked her?, I could only sit back and reflect on the multitude of things that took place during the first few years of my 20s.
Let me break it down. ANTI is truly a love story, but it’s not your typical “my heart is aching, woe with me” type of love story (see: any of Slaydele’s albums). ANTI is one of those moments when you’re dealing with someone and you both don’t have your sh*t together. It’s the moment when you let somebody know, “Look! I’m in this if you’re in this but I have other stuff to handle and I don’t have all the answers but I just want to have fun but I don’t have time for the crap so get with the program.” Hence why I say it’s for those maneuvering through their 20’s. Trying to balance being in a relationship or a situationship but also trying to work on your own stuff and get things together, because lord knows it’s already enough pressure on us in our 20’s to have everything all figured out.
The thing about ANTI is that if you pay close attention, you’d realize that it’s about all the times when we’re dealing with someone, a significant other or a potential lover, and both of us feel like we have all the right answers but we’re both wrong as hell. It’s about wanting our own personal freedom to be who we want; to mess up, pick ourselves up off our ass, only to fall flat on our face again.
For those of you who have ever been in a situation where you were in love, then you know that it’s never as easy as we’d hope for it to be. Especially if you’re in that phase in your life where you’re trying to balance your personal life while figuring out what you want to do for a career; all while trying to maintain a solid relationship with someone.
There are moments when everything is good and you’re able to just vibe with someone and connect with them on a whole different level.
“I’d rather be smoking weed whenever we breathe every time you kiss me. Don’t say that you miss me, just come get me.”
Then there are moments when you have to put somebody in their place and let them know they weren’t sh*t before you came along. A power struggle, for lack of better terms. The sole track “Needed Me” could probably be the easiest depiction of what it’s like dealing with someone while in your 20s when a relationship is the furthest thing from your mind.
“I was good on my own, that’s the way it was. You was good on the low for a faded f*ck, on some faded love.”
Let’s not act like we’re not familiar with just wanting to vibe with someone, to chill but do nothing too serious because we really do have other stuff going on and just wanna have fun. They say, “You’re in your 20s, this is when you should be having fun,” and that’s what we’re doing, right? Or even the times when to the outside world it might look like you two are crazy for being with each other, but to ya’ll it’s just you and your bae against the world; fighting the fight against everyone’s prying eyes and opinions and it’s full of moments when things get hectic and out of control, but we all know how crazy love can get.
“Must be love on the brain that’s got me feeling this way. It beats me black and blue but it f*cks me so good and I can’t get enough.”
ANTI is truly a “new aged” love story as old as time – one for the books. And if there’s anything to learn from it, it’s that love is rocky and can be tumultuous as hell, but at least you know you’ll end up with Lemonade.