Encountering Rihanna’s “Birthday Cake” in the open world feels like playing Russian roulette. (The pun wasn’t originally intended.) Starting from synth one and escalating up until the chorus, the only thing that reasonable non-stans can think is “please let it be just Rihanna… please let it be just Rihanna…” It’s uncomfortable enough to ruin a perfectly good beat, it definitely trashed that whole part of the album cycle, and it’s something that we kind of wish the music world could forget.
Rick Ross’s album is called God Forgives, I Don’t, though, so probably best to look elsewhere for forgetting. He did his own remix of “Birthday Cake”–although the thing’s about one minute long in its original form, so maybe we should say he also finished the song–and thankfully, it’s not nearly as uncomfortable as that other remix. The choice of collaborator’s less biographically icky, of course, but more to the point: it’s a Rick Ross verse, which means he shows up, talks a bit about blowing money fast (Ferrari, diamonds, matching Reeboks…) and aside from a couple mentions of “cake” and Rihanna, generally acts oblivious to what the track’s even about. For once, that’s a good thing.
Still about five more songs on Talk That Talk we’d rather hear Ross on, though. Whatever happened to “Talk That Talk” being promoted? If Beyonce can swap Andre 3000 for J. Cole on “Party,” Rihanna’s team can replace Jay-Z’s phoned-in verse on that. Probably too late for that, though. And good luck trying to find room for a verse amid the “Where Have You Been” rave.