Rihanna has been secretly working on a dancehall album for over a year.
After mentioning the possibility of a reggae-inspired album during an interview with Vogue, Rolling Stone spoke with eight sources who confirm that the Bajan singer and her label Roc Nation have been scouting for beats to complete an album that explores her Caribbean roots.
The list of potential collaborators includes R. City (Rihanna, Beyoncé), Stephen “Di Genius” McGregor (Vybz Kartel, Sean Paul), Linton “TJ Records” White (Serani, Vybz Kartel), Ricky Blaze (Gyptian), Tyshane “Beam” Thompson (Yo Gotti, Lecrae), Kranium, and Chronixx. Vogue also mentioned that veteran dancehall producer Supa Dups (Drake’s “Controlla” and “Too Good”) is involved.
“[Rihanna’s team] have, no lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers,” one dancehall producer tells Rolling Stone. “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.”
Rihanna has dabbled in dancehall before with hits like 2010’s “Man Down,” 2011’s “You Da One,” and 2016’s chart-topper “Work” off ANTI.
“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,” says another source close to the project. “I think they’ve got eight songs,” he continues, “but her A&R is still asking for records.” “They’re looking for one more [song],” adds a third source.
In addition to a reggae album, two sources claim that Rihanna is simultaneously working on a pop-oriented album with today’s top hitmakers including Boi-1da and Skrillex.
One producer, who also spoke anonymously, expressed concern over the Caribbean influence. “Their whole thing was, ‘Yo, we’re gonna make this [album] real dancehall, [real] Caribbean,’” says the producer. “Rihanna is Bajan, so let’s make this a full project like that. To me, it hasn’t been going that way. They’re kind of mixing it up, putting in the pop. If the reggae artists and producers won’t get the chance on the pop album, at least let us survive on the dancehall album. They’re changing up the direction continuously.”