Rihanna Unveils Groundbreaking New 'Anti' Album Art Featuring Childhood Photo

by Sophie Schillaci 10:59 PM PDT, October 07, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Rihanna is doing her new album her way.

The "Bitch Better Have My Money" singer hosted an intimate soiree at MAMA Gallery in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday night, where she unveiled her groundbreaking new collaboration -- which also happens to double as the album art for her upcoming eight studio album.

Guests -- including Nick Jonas and Straight Outta Compton's O'Shea Jackson Jr. -- were handed red blindfolds upon entry, where they were encouraged to close their eyes and touch over-sized braille versions of Rihanna's album liner notes.

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Nearby, black curtains hung ominously over the album cover itself as partygoers waited for Rihanna to arrive and unveil it.

And unveil it she did, surrounded by a cheering crowd of iPhone-wielding fans and media. While Rihanna didn't explicitly announce the album's title or release date, she did reveal a real-life childhood photo of herself as the cover's centerpiece. Washed in a sea of red paint, a metallic gold crown covers her eyes. The artist behind the vision is Roy Nachum, whom Rihanna says she met through a mutual friend.

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"He sees things beyond the surface, which is why we even decided to collaborate," she said of Nachum, who is a favorite of celebs like Jay Z, Leonardo DiCaprio and Justin Timberlake. "I fell in love with him because I felt like there was another spirit, there was another layer to the art. After we met, we talked about what I wanted visually, what would make me the happiest girl in the world."

That also included a contribution from poet Chloe Mitchell, whose words punctuate the album cover in braille.

"She got the spirit of what I wanted embodied in this into words," Rihanna explained. "We just talked and we laughed and we drank, and this is the poem we came up with, which is If They Let Us."

The poem reads:

I sometimes fear that I am misunderstood.
It is simply because what I want to say,
what I need to say, won't be heard.
Heard in a way I so rightfully deserve.
What I choose to say is of so much substance
That people just won't understand the depth of my message.
So my voice is not my weakness,
It is the opposite of what others are afraid of.
My voice is my suit and armor,
My shield, and all that I am.
I will comfortably breath [sic] in it, until I find the moment to be silent.
I live loudly in my mind, so many hours of the day.
The world is pin drop sound compared to the boom
That thumps and bumps against the walls of my cranium.
I live it and love it and despise it and I am entrapped in it.
So being misunderstood, I am not offended by the gesture, but honored.
If they let us...

Rih spills album details in the video above.

In a back room, video projections showed exactly how Nachum created the stunning artwork.

The making of #r8. 🎨❤️ #rihanna #rihannanavy @badgalriri

A video posted by Sophie Schillaci (@sophieschillaci) on

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While fans have nicknamed Rihanna's highly-anticipated new album #R8 on social media, the 27-year-old took to Instagram after the event to announce the album's official title, Anti.

#ANTi #antiR8

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

"ANTI," read one placard at the installation, hinting at the meaning behind the name. "A person opposed to a particular policy, activity, or idea. In her collaboration with Roy Nachum, Rihanna has changed the history of album art. By continuing to follow her own instincts, her work strives to make an impact by doing the very antithesis of what the public expects."

#ANTi #antiR8

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

RiRi also posted pictures of the album art after the event, revealing the official front and back cover.

#ANTi #coverart @roynachum

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

#ANTi #backcoverart @roynachum

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

If there's one thing we expect from the Bad Gal -- it's that she'll always give us something unexpected.

While we continue to anxiously await Rihanna's next single, see why her voice acting job on Home actually made her crazy nervous. See the interview in the video below.

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