Hello New Girl Boss Rihanna! Goodbye To Her Music?!
In November 2010, a then-22-year-old Rihanna was riding high off the success of her album Loud, earning her 14th top 10 single with “What’s My Name,” by the time she graced the cover of Interview Magazine’s December 2010/January 2011 issue. In the profile piece, she talked about her wishes to venture into other avenues than music. “I want to evolve my career into different things. I want to also be able to do fashion. I want to do makeup. I want to have different entities. Because I don’t want to have to tour every year. I want to able to say; I don’t feel like doing music this year,” she said to guest writer and frequent collaborator Kanye West. She also mentioned beauty, books, and magazines as other things she wants to accomplish. (Also, safe to mention that Rihanna went “effectively bankrupt in 2009” due to her shady record label and incompetent accountant at the time which could’ve been the reason behind dropping back-to-back albums and excessively touring.) Flash forward seven years later, Rihanna spoke her wishes into existence.
Rihanna is no longer, “Rihanna, the pop star” but she is “Rihanna, the business woman,” “Rihanna, the living proof of #BlackGirlMagic.” In 2016, the Bajan pop star was credited by PUMA for helping revenue jump 92 percent after partnering with the company to release a line of shoes and athletic wear called FentyXPuma. Not too long after, she released Fenty Beauty, a makeup collection that everyone from critics to fans alike praised for being inclusive of all skin tones. Vogue Magazine, who recently interviewed Rihanna, said that her line grossed $100 million in sales in the first 40 days of its release. On May 11, Rihanna will be releasing her lingerie line dubbed Savage x Fenty, fitting for her the star’s provocative image and questionable personal life.
I sympathize with why Rihanna doesn't necessarily want to make music and to tour all the time. Pop music is a genre that changes as fast as children grow out of their shoes and any artist or producer must be able to adapt or will surely get left behind. Meanwhile, as fun as touring may come off to the public, it can be a source of trouble and mental health issues for artists. A charity organization in the UK called Help Musicians did a study back in 2015 that found over “60 percent of musicians have suffered from depression or other psychological issues, with touring an issue for 71 percent of respondents.” However, there is still a part of me, as well as Rihanna fans all over, that is thirsty for more music and another tour (her shows are entertaining).
After leaving Def Jam in 2014, Rihanna signed with Westbury Road/Roc Nation and released Anti, which set a new chapter in the singer’s career in a similar fashion to her counterpart Beyoncé. For the first time, Rihanna’s primary concern was not to amass sugar-coated Top 40 hits, but break away from the cookie-cutter mold that made her America’s most beloved pop star in exchange for experimental and woozy pop, R&B and rock stylings. Two years shy of her 15-year anniversary in the game, Rihanna has become that music icon that could sneeze and go platinum with whatever she does.
Without the contractual pressure previously structured with her former label, RiRi has room to be creative as fuck with her music knowing our fans will eat whatever she cooks up. In her new in-depth interview with Vogue Magazine, she announced she’ll be releasing a reggae album, citing Supa Dups and Bob Marley as her favorite reggae artists. Not a surprise to some as the 30-year old is native of the islands, growing up in Barbados that produces other styles of music like soca, calypso, and dancehall.
While Rihanna has used dancehall and reggae in some of her music, her most popular songs like “Work” and “Man Down” are the most authentic. Most of her work—particularly her first two albums 2005’s Music of the Sun and 2006’s A Girl Like Me—is a watered-down version of reggae and dancehall music mixed with American pop & R&B. However, in an age where Donald Trump is our president, perhaps we finally have reached a point in popular culture where respectability politics can go out the door. Beyoncé, the highest paid black musician of all-time, made history as the first black woman to headline Coachella and used it as a platform to relish in her blackness in a way people like Oprah and Obama have sometimes shied away from as they became more popularized with white America. Rihanna may have to deal with criticism and curiosity from people if she’s going full-fledged reggae on this next album singing in Bajan creole. And so, what if she does? RiRi has made a whole career from the not-giving-a-fuck philosophy. And that’s the reason we love this rebel flower whose reign just won’t let up. In the meantime, we’ll be waiting for you when you’re ready to bless us with new music, but for now, we’ll have “Disturbia” on repeat!