Are you the reason your favourite artist isn’t putting out an album?

Are you the reason your favourite artist isn’t putting out an album?

by Robyn Pullen
5 min

Last week, Rihanna slid into GloRilla’s DMs to say “I know dis wild hypocritical, but when the album dropping?” And considering Rihanna’s own fans have been asking when her album’s dropping since 2017, she’s right, it is hypocritical. There are a ton of artists being hounded for their next album right now, whether that be Rihanna, GloRilla, or even Frank Ocean, but did we ever stop to think that maybe that’s exactly what puts them off? Let’s ask the question the music industry’s too scared to answer: are artists under too much pressure?

Back in 2023, Rihanna told British Vogue, “when you come off of an album like Anti … There’s this pressure that I put on myself. That if it’s not better than that then it is not even worth it,” and we think that pretty much sums up how most artists feel about making music right now. It makes sense that producing an album with such huge quantifiable success, like Anti which spent 300 weeks on the Billboard 200 and was certified six-times platinum, would add an immense amount of pressure to any artist’s next project. 

@glorillapimp ©

Rihanna has pretty much confirmed that R9 – as her unnamed, unreleased ninth album has come to be known – has been built up into this intimidating thing that can never top Anti. In an interview at her Rihanna x Fenty Hair event in LA last week, she told Entertainment Tonight that she’s “starting over” with R9. After five years building up to R9’s release, is anyone surprised that Rihanna’s reworking it and reworking it? We know we’d be doing exactly the same.

Rihanna isn’t the only artist that seems to be cracking under the pressure of releasing new music. Both Troye Sivan and Charli XCX have made comments in the last month – Charli on her BRAT track “Rewind” and Troye in an interview with SSENSE – about Billboard and the negative impact of the chart rating platform. As Troye said: “It’s been a little bit of a blessing that I’ve yet to have a Billboard number one,” arguing that it makes his approach to music more “sustainable” because the pressure of topping the charts hasn’t gotten to him.

@troyesivan ©

The pressure on artists to hit that mark again and again once they’ve achieved it once is immense, and Charli corroborates, with the lyrics in “Rewind”: “I used to never think about Billboard, But, now, I’ve started thinking again, Wondering about whether I think I deserve commercial success.” After the track’s release, she went on to tell Emma Chamberlain in an interview on her podcast that she’s pretty much ignoring stats when it comes to BRAT.

After Frank Ocean’s performance at Coachella in 2023, where he started his set late, apparently mimed along to his tracks, and then cancelled his performance the following day, fans were left outraged about what they called a disappointing (to say the least) set. But what it made us wonder is: maybe he just isn’t into performing any more? Since 2016, when Frank released Blonde, people have been asking for the date of his next album drop, and as time goes on it’s starting to feel like he just isn’t into making music anymore… and what’s wrong with that?

@blonded ©

Like plenty of artists, perhaps Frank Ocean is just happy with the run he’s had. Blonde was an iconic album to say the least, with a cultural impact so huge it’s still sending shock waves across the music industry over seven years later, so why not end his career in music on a high note and chuck in the towel there? 

Whilst we appreciate that asking artists “when’s the album dropping” comes from a good place, arguably the pressure it adds, even for those whose careers have been hugely successful already, is unmanageable and often ends up putting them off making new music altogether. Maybe if we collectively stop asking for the album, Rihanna, GloRilla, Frank, and the rest of them might be more keen to drop one. Let’s agree to not be so desperate about new releases? Remember, good things come to those who wait.

Featured image via @badgalriri ©

More on Culted

See: Why Pusha T for Louis Vuitton makes sense

See: Carla Mignano is the IFM Paris graduate killing it

in other news