Rihanna, B.O.B., J. Cole | United Center | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Rihanna, B.O.B., J. Cole Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard

When: Wed., June 15, 7:30 p.m. 2011

Six summers ago Rihanna put her Barbadian heritage front and center on her debut single, "Pon de Replay"—it combined a dancehall rhythm and a chorus so thick with Caribbean patois that most American fans probably had no idea what they were saying when they sang along, except that it had something to do with a DJ. The song's success appears to have taught her to embrace the things that set her apart from other post-Beyonce singers, and she's since established a spot at the leading edge of pop tastes. Sometimes she goes a little overboard in embracing new influences; lately she's often seemed to be aping M.I.A. (a pattern that reached its apex in the video for "Rude Boy") or trying to outdo Lady Gaga in the "emulating vintage Madonna" department (see for instance her recent "S&M"). But Rihanna's willingess to take radio R&B to weird places—like the unexpectedly dark corners explored in "Disturbia" and the Kanye/Jay-Z collabo "Run This Town"—can also bring some much needed freshness to the airwaves. —Miles Raymer

Price: $19.75-$99.75

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