Since the now infamous ‘incident’ between Rihanna and Chris Brown in February, the urban music world has eagerly awaited new musical projects from both parties. Both singers seem to have something to prove following the negative press in the aftermath of the domestic abuse case, as is evident by their chosen album covers. Brown is looking to retain his reputation, whilst Rihanna argueably has the toughest battle ahead.
Looking to navigate the fine balance between the stereotypical ‘victim’ or the stronger, enlightened woman, Rihanna has the difficult task of publically acknowledging her experience but in a dignified and respectful manner. She would be condemned for ‘revealing all’ to the media but she would be just as likely to face condemnation for not speaking on the subject, which still widely remains a taboo. People would naturally expect Rihanna, as a role model for many young women, to use her own experience to educate others.
Despite relatively widespread criticism for her darker approach with Rated R, surely Rihanna’s edgier image actually conveys a much stronger message than the bubbly pop princess or ‘victim’ look. Her controversial style actually screams strength and experience, reflecting her journey. By highlighting the darker side of domestic abuse in both her image and her music, Rihanna is not only raising awareness of her plight but also introducing the world to a tougher version of herself.
Chris Brown on the other hand has unsurprisingly gone for a more family-friendly approach with his Graffiti cover, which features him dressed all in black, wielding a guitar and a spray can. It seems somewhat unfair that despite the domestic abuse incident, Brown actually has very little to worry about when it comes to his own image.
Still, it is important to remember that there is a big difference between Chris Brown as a man and as a musician. His music and his actions are two very different things and should be judged accordingly. Regardless of your attitude towards Brown and the domestic abuse incident himself, it would be unfair to not approach his next musical project with an open mind.
They say you should ‘never judge a book by its cover’ but an album cover can say an awful lot about a record, setting the tone for the entire project. Rihanna’s Rated R appears risqué, experimental and intriguing, whilst Brown’s Graffiti cover implies a light-hearted yet rather clean and repetitive tone.
Frankly the decision between a strong and edgy woman, unafraid to take a gamble and a rather camp-looking Men In Black reject seems like a no-brainer to me. In short, based on not only the cover but also the music that has surfaced so far from both projects, Rihanna’s appears to be a more interesting and progressive album.
That being said, it will be interesting to see what both artists have to offer with their forthcoming albums. Hopefully both artists have learnt from their experiences this past year and this will be reflected in their respective projects. Let the musical showdown begin…
Rated R is schedule for release on November 23rd and Graffiti will hit stores on December 8th.