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Rihanna has not released an album in nearly four years. Following the release of 2016’s Anti, the “Needed Me” crooner moved to London with her boyfriend and turned her attention to her Fenty Beauty brand, clothing line, and blossoming acting career. While she promised a follow-up would come out in 2019, the year wrapped without any release from the singer.

Why is the album taking so long?

Rihanna at an event in October 2019
Rihanna at an event in October 2019 | Photo by Roy Rochlin/Getty Images

The reported reason Rihanna’s album is not out yet and the status of it

Even though Rihanna hasn’t put out the album — which has been dubbed as R9 by her and her fans — it doesn’t mean that the release date is far away. Sources say the project is in its final stages.

A source told HollywoodLife on Jan. 3 that Rihanna has recorded a bunch of material for R9 — she’s just trying to narrow it down into a more concise project.

“Rihanna’s focus in 2020 is getting new music out there, she is working hard on songs to fill an album,” the source explained. “She has hundreds of songs and her focus is trying to get 12 to 15 songs for an album, and that is pretty tough.”

What has Rihanna said about ‘R9’?

In December 2019, Rihanna teased on Instagram that the album was finished but said she refused to release it. She’d previously told Interview magazine that she wanted to make sure that it was really ready.

“It really does suck that it can’t just come out because I’m working on a really fun one right now,” she said. “I’m really happy with a lot of the material we have so far, but I am not going to put it out until it’s complete.”

She also explained how her busy schedule had impacted her studio time and prolonged the album’s release.

“I used to be in the studio, only the studio, for three months straight, and an album would come out,” Rihanna shared. “Now, it’s like a carousel. 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.”

Then there’s also her boyfriend, billionaire Hassan Jameel. Rihanna began dating Jameel in 2017 and really tries to fit in as much personal time with him as she can.

“I got into a new relationship, and it matters to me. It was like, ‘I need to make time for this,’” she added to Interview. “Just like I nurture my businesses, I need to nurture this as well. I’ll shut things down for two days, three days at a time.”

The vibe of Rihanna’s upcoming album

Rihanna has said that the album will be influenced by her Caribbean roots — something she hasn’t done since her earlier days. Her first two albums — Music of the Sun (2005) and A Girl like Me (2006) — were heavily inspired by reggae music. But her later releases were mostly centered around pop, R&B, and/or soul.

“I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album,” she said in Vogue’s November 2019 issue. “It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks.”

“Though it’s too soon to name a full list of collaborators, one early influence may be Supa Dups, the Jamaican-born record producer who has worked with such dancehall greats as Beenie Man, Sean Paul, and Elephant Man,” writer Chioma Nnandi said in Rihanna’s cover story for Vogue’s June 2018 issue.

We can’t wait. And hopefully, we won’t have to wait too much longer.

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