Pop & Hiss

Surprise! Rihanna's 'Anti' is finally out -- and it's free

The day that started with new Rihanna music has ended with new Rihanna music in a whirlwind that included a surprise single release and the leaking of her latest album, “Anti.”

Hours after premiering a collaboration with Drake called “Work,” the long-awaited album hit the Internet.

“Anti,” the oft-delayed follow-up to 2012’s “Unapologetic,” appeared on Jay Z’s Tidal on Wednesday afternoon in what appeared to be a mistake.

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Fans took to social media to point out that the streaming service posted the album and track list without warning and users of the Samsung-sponsored augmented reality Web portal built around the album were given access to a link that allowed them to purchase the album, however the link was invalid.

Tidal quickly removed the album from its site but the mishap didn’t stop pirated rips of the 13-track project from surfacing on file-sharing sites. By Wednesday evening the album had reappeared on Tidal’s site.

Forbes confirmed in a report that the new album, the singer’s eighth, will be available to stream for all Tidal subscribers and that the singer is giving away a bulk of copies for free.

A number of free "Anti" downloads will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, regardless of whether listeners subscribe to Tidal.

Additionally, a deluxe edition of the album will be released Friday and feature three bonus songs.

In order to get a code for a free download, listeners must complete the full experience of the ANTIdiary Web portal, where users have to explore multiple rooms that trace the pop star’s life story.

With the album “exclusively available in streaming and downloadable formats,” it’s uncertain when, or if, physical copies of the album will be released to big-box retailers.

On first listen, “Anti” is much different from a typical Rihanna album.

Guest appearances are sparse — just Drake on the aforementioned “Work” and alt-R&B singer SZA on album opener “Consideration.”

The album isn’t rife with radio-primed hits or stick closely to the R&B, dance and pop beats that have yielded her the biggest hits of her career. Not that there aren’t bangers on the album; there are plenty. The Caribbean-tinged “Work” quickly shot up the iTunes singles chart when it was released Wednesday morning, and it seems like a guarantee that the bouncy DJ Mustard-produced anthem "Needed Me” and the previously teased “Kiss It Better” will be radio mainstays in the coming months.

After seven years of consistently churning out an album a year — four of them released in consecutive Novembers — the singer took her time with “Anti,” but the road to the album’s release has been an arduous one, with a number of false starts, cryptic reveals and scant details.

That she called “Work” the album’s “first single” only added to the intrigue — and confusion — of the album’s campaign, which kicked off exactly a year ago this week.

Last January, she dropped what was said to be the album’s first single, “FourFiveSeconds,” without warning. The bare-bones soft rocker featured Paul McCartney and Kanye West, who announced he was executive producing the album ahead of the trio's performance at the Grammys. That later turned out not to be the case, as West spent much of the year delaying his own album, “Waves” (the second time he’s changed the name).

To debut the video for her hit “Bitch Better Have My Money,” the singer took dozens of her biggest fans on a wild crosstown Los Angeles surprise adventure.

She released the anthemic footstomper “American Oxygen” as the title track for March Madness and issued album interlude “James Joint” as a tribute to 420, while the Florence and the Machine-sampling “Only If For A Night” was previewed during a campaign for Dior.

Strangely neither “Bitch Better Have My Money,” “American Oxygen,” “FourFiveSeconds” or “Only If For A Night” made the final cut of “Anti.”

The singer’s massive “Anti” world tour launches Feb. 26 in San Diego.

A rep for the singer didn't respond to a request for comment over the album's release. 

gerrick.kennedy@latimes.com

For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedy

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