However, the report is fictitious, Hype Life Magazine understands.
While considering to add some island flavor to her album, Rihanna’s team reached out Brooklyn producer Dre Skull, the founder of Mixpak Records, the label that’s home to Popcaan and Vybz Kartel.
“I know firsthand and secondhand that she’s been reaching out to a lot of people in the dancehall world. I’m not suggesting it’s gonna be [a dancehall album] but [her people] are excited about dancehall and to work in that sort of context. They’ve reached out to Popcaan, but I’ve talked to a number of people in Jamaica that they’ve reached out to,” Dre Skull told FADER, last summer.
“I’m not suggesting that I know what will happen, but I do know they’ve talked to a bunch of artists that I know,” he clarified.
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However, the specifics of originally wanting to collaborate with Vybz Kartel, Popcaan or Mavado on “Work” were never disclosed.
Further, the development of the track has its own story.
“Work” was written by the artists, PartyNextDoor, Allen Ritter, Rupert “Sevn” Thomas, Monte Moir, R. Stephenson, and Boi-1da; the latter is also the producer. Thomas created a beat which was dancehall-influenced; he later played it for Boi-1da to which he came with up idea for sampling an “old school dancehall rhythm” and after that the chords were made with Ritter.
When the song’s music was finished, Boi-1da sent it to PartyNextDoor who wrote the lyrics. Drake eventually heard the song and decided to write and record a verse on it. Shortly after, Braithwaite stayed at Rihanna’s home in Malibu, where he played her the song. Finally, Rihanna’s vocals were recorded by Marcos Tovar and Kuk Harrell at the Westlake Recording Studios in Los Angeles; the latter also served as a vocal producer.
Drake’s vocals were recorded by Noel Cadastre and Noah “40” Shebib at the Sandra Gale Studios in California and the SOTA Studios in Toronto. The vocal recording was assisted by Thomas Warren, while additional vocals were provided by PartyNextDoor while the mastering was done by Chris Gehringer at the Sterling Sound in New York City.
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Rihanna’s “Work,” currently spending its second week at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, isn’t your typical chart-topper. The single marks the third collaboration between Rihanna and Drake, following “What’s My Name?” in 2010 and “Take Care” in 2012.
The Drake-assisted song isn’t part of a new genre that many in the mainstream media are calling “tropical house.” It isn’t one of the pop anthems we’re used to from Rihanna, like her last album’s lead single, “Diamonds.”
As the first half of her ‘Work” video, filmed in the beloved Caribbean restaurant The Real Jerk in Toronto, makes explicit, Anti’s lead single is undeniably drenched in Dancehall — a genre with deep roots in Jamaica’s club scene that spun off from reggae in the 1970s.
The track is a proud, powerful reminder of the Barbados-born singer’s West Indian roots — and a milestone for dancehall: The last song in the genre to hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 was Sean Paul’s “Temperature” in 2006.
Director X, the veteran music video director who helmed the first half of the “Work” visuals, says his vision and mission was clear: bring West Indian culture front and center.
“I’m a West Indian; my mother’s from Trinidad,” he told Billboard.
“We’re a proud culture and we love people to be a part of it and we’re also a worldwide culture so there’s always a part of us that’s proud to put ourselves on display.”
“Work” received generally mixed reviews, with critics praising the song’s production and musical style, however noted the track was “comfortable”.
The song was a commercial success, debuting at number nine and reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100; subsequently making it Rihanna’s fourteenth number one.
The song also saw success elsewhere peaking at number one in Canada, France and the Netherlands and peaking within the top ten of the charts in Australia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
“Work” is certainly an achievement for the singer — Rihanna now has 14 No. 1s, one more than Michael Jackson — but it’s also a proud moment for West Indian people.