Is there anything Rihanna can’t do? Since releasing her multiplatinum album “Anti” in 2016, the business mogul has upended the beauty industry with Fenty Beauty, launched a luxury fashion line, changed the lingerie game with Savage X Fenty, become a a certified billionaire, and given birth to her first child with her boyfriend, A$AP Rocky. In September, she also announced that she will be headlining the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show, and even dropped a new song, “Lift Me Up,” as part of the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack the following month. With all that going on, fans have begun to speculate that Rihanna is gearing up to release her highly anticipated next album, which they’ve dubbed “R9.”
Unfortunately, Rihanna dashed hope that an album is on its way in an interview with the Associated Press. When asked if the Super Bowl performance meant a new album was coming, Rihanna said, “That’s not true. Super Bowl is one thing. New music is another thing. Do you hear that, fans?”
To be fair, Rihanna has been fueling speculation about new music for a while. In September 2021, Rihanna teased the possibility of new music to Billboard, saying, “You’re not going to expect what you hear. Just put that in your mind.” She added, “I’m really experimenting. Music is like fashion. You should be able to play. I should be able to wear whatever I want. I treat music the same way. So I’m having fun, and it’s going to be completely different.”
Fast-forward to February 2022, the new mom shared a new update with fans. “Yes, you’re still going to get music from me,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “My fans would kill me if they waited this long for a lullaby.”
For her May 2022 cover story with Vogue, Rihanna reassured fans that music is still very much a part of her agenda, though she remained tight-lipped on specific details for her upcoming untitled album. “I’m looking at my next project completely differently from the way I had wanted to put it out before,” she told the publication. “I think this way suits me better, a lot better. It’s authentic, it’ll be fun for me, and it takes a lot of the pressure off.”
In a 2019 interview with T Magazine, Rihanna said her ninth album — which has the working title “R9” and will be her first reggae album — will be a tribute to her Caribbean roots. “So far it’s just been R9, thanks to the Navy,” she said. “I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this ‘R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?’ How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?”
“I don’t [know],” Rihanna responded coyly when asked when the album would be released. In June 2019, she said that a combination of managing her multiple businesses and lack of sleep have delayed her anticipated ninth album. “I do fashion one day, lingerie the next, beauty the next, then music the next. It’s like having a bunch of kids and you need to take care of them all,” Rihanna told Sarah Paulson for Interview Magazine.
At this point, we’re banking on Rihanna pulling a Beyoncé and surprising us with an overnight drop of the forthcoming project. But until that happens, fans will just have to play the waiting game a while longer.