"Ain't Nobody's Business," Rihanna's duet with her abuser Chris Brown from her upcoming Unapologetic album, has leaked. It is an excellent pop song: sublime, clear, catchy. For its chorus, it interpolates (and slightly alters) an adlb from Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" for its chorus ("Ain't nobody's business but mine and my baby's"), but it's produced more in the style of Steve "Silk" Hurley's remix of Jackson's "Remember the Time." Produced by The-Dream and Los da Mystro, "Business" is a piano house number with a relaxed tempo and string shrieks, it manages to avoid EDM trappings (no drop anywhere to be found!), sounding classic and lovely. This will probably be massively popular, and impossible to ignore very, very soon. Rihanna and Chris Brown are reunited and it feels so cognitively dissonant.
It was much easier to hate another Rihanna/Brown collaboration from earlier this year, an extended duet version of Talk That Talk's "Birthday Cake." That track was seedy, tasteless (never forget the first thing Chris Brown said directly to Rihanna in public, post-pummeling: "I wanna fuck you right now") and sported a monotone hook that's all the rage but not traditionally ear-wormy. Their other collaboration, a similar duet remix of his "Turn Up the Music," was easy to ignore as it was eclipsed by the popularity of "Cake."
"Ain't Nobody's Business," on the other hand, is light, full of hooks and delivered well by both parties. Rihanna, in particular, is an endless source of solutions to her limited vocal range. Here she pretty much just speaks the verses, teasing with melody — her musical flirtation is as irresistible as any successful flirtation. Brown, for his part, doesn't sound whiny for once and his MJ imitation is spot-on.
Though her continued (and hypocritical based on her previous statements) public association with Brown is frustrating and certainly undermines the message of this song (they've been making this our business for the sake of provocation all year), pop conquers all here. It's been easy to keep despising Chris Brown because he has put out a stream of garbage throughout his career. He lacks the vocal nuance of a true R&B powerhouse and the taste to make up for his mere competence in carrying a tune. Everything Chris Brown does, one of his peers can do better. His music is generic and soulless; "Ain't Nobody's Business" is not. Fuck both of them for turning out something so confusingly enjoyable.