Rihanna is the personification of lust. If her story was a Greek myth she would be Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty and sexuality. Ever since I can remember she’s been desirable. Confident, raunchy, explicit, innocent, no matter the role she’s attractive without effort, but her music didn’t carry the same allure. There would be an occasional single that would warrant a positive response, but nothing ever made me think her magnetism could go beyond the shallowness of eyes. Last Saturday though, she released "FourFiveSeconds," a single with Kanye West and Paul McCartney.
I was drunk bowling, doing pretty well I might add. Despite a gut full of Hennessy and happiness, my attitude toward the song was rather listless. Twitter was going silverback gorilla, but that wasn’t enough to entice my careless ears. If it wasn’t for a talk with Nathan, I probably would’ve went weeks before the radio intruded on my defiance. I hate the hype train, especially when big names are onboard - exaggeration makes the underwhelming result even more disheartening when I do listen. I pressed play with no expectations, but little hope for anything groundbreaking.
My first listen thoughts: she sounds good, vocally more powerful, and passionate. The acoustic guitar is cool, not very hip-hop, but Rihanna does this country-pop foundation justice. This is what I imagine Mylie Cyrus music sounds like when not twerking and hanging from wreaking balls. Oh, Kanye’s using auto-tune again, he doesn’t rap, but his addition doesn’t ruin the experience. I guess this is cool. I like it.
And then I listened again. And again. And again. And that's when I realized, holy crap, Rihanna made a song about hating your job.
Lately, I’ve realized that music is based on appeal. We aren’t meant to enjoy everything, even a good rapper can be unappealing to a certain ear. When I listen to "FourFiveSeconds," I get flashbacks of my days at Olive Garden. It appeals and resonates with that part of my life. Each line touched a nerve, sent me traveling back to dealing with superficial zombies and the soulless ogres I call “management.”
I think I've had enough
I might get a little drunk
I say what's on my mind
I might do a little time
Cause all of my kindness
Is taken for weakness
These are the words of a woman working the graveyard shift at Waffle House, dealing with the arrogant assholes, disrespectful degenerates and prissy prostitutes. Between taking orders, she's night-dreaming about that bottle of Roscato Rosso Dolce on her night stand. Her manager has a master’s degree in lewd insensitivity, he can’t speak without belittling her hard work. She's at that point where you feel like your job is devouring your essence, you’re voiceless, and you start envisioning escaping with guns blazing.
Now I'm four, five seconds from wildin'
And we got three more days 'til Friday
I'm just tryna make it back home by Monday mornin'
All it takes is one person to push that button, the blinking one, the instant nuclear bomb. Everything becomes red, your adrenaline is so high your hair might start to turn gold. The only thing suppressing your rage is the knowledge that Friday is three long days away. I wish I could remember the drunk weekends, last year I could’ve built a mountain out of E&J bottles. My friends and I would stress drink, relieve the buildup that was accumulated throughout the last five days and prepare for the forthcoming Monday.
Woke up an optimist
Sun was shinin', I'm positive
Then I heard you was talkin' trash
Hold me back, I'm 'bout to spaz
Despite his success, it feels like Kanye took us back to the Gap. I remember those mornings, when the sun’s rays would bleed through the blinds and caress my eyelids. The birds would be chirping, the car wouldn't be stolen, and I would be full of optimism. Overflowing with positive vibes, every intention to kill my demons with kindness, but it doesn’t take long before that feeling is beheaded.
And I know that you're up tonight
Thinkin', "How could I be so selfish?"
But you called 'bout a thousand times
Wondering where I've been
Now I know that you're up tonight
Thinkin' "How could I be so reckless?"
But I just can't apologize
I hope you can understand
Someone obviously just quit their job and having to tell their significant other. I haven’t experienced this feeling, but I’m able to understand how selfish and reckless such a spontaneous move can be.
If I go to jail tonight
Promise you'll pay my bail
See they want to buy my pride
But that just ain't up for sale
See all of my kindness
Is taken for weakness
I really like the line, “See they want my pride, but that just ain’t up for sale.” In my short job history, I’ve discovered no one cares about your personal morals. $8.25 an hour isn’t enough money to push pride to the limit. It could be a co-worker, a manager, a customer, but someone is taking advantage of your kind exterior, not knowing your interior is near boiling over.
I’ve never dug a Rihanna song on this level. She’s not the best vocalist, a bit whiny, but I see my reflection in the words. Maybe it was my recent trip back to my former employer that really inspired the comparison. I felt like an escaped convict that went to visit an old pal - it's a strange sensation, being on the other side of those 9-to-5 bars. "FourFiveSeconds" is a reminder of what I left behind, what writing helped me escape. All the breaking point moments, all the inebriated nights, how did two, rich, successful artist create something for the minimum wage?
This is definitely not a love song. This is a song about withstanding, fighting Phonte’s "Good Fight," and trying to keep your soul and sanity while in the lion’s den.
[By Yoh, aka I’m NEVER going back, aka @Yoh31]