Chicago Sun-Times: Power Duo Rihanna, Brown Keep Private Lives Quiet

Professionally, Rihanna and Chris Brown couldn’t be more high-profile. She has just been named Billboard’s Top Female Artist of the Year, and he earned both Top Male Artist and Top Artist of the Year. The 19-year-old Brown helped write her hit “Disturbia,” and during her recent tour of Australia and New Zealand, he joined Rihanna nightly onstage for “Umbrella.” Tonight, Rihanna, 20, is headlining the B96 Jingle Bash at the Allstate Arena with David Archuleta and Jesse McCartney. And, surprise surprise — there will be a “special appearance” by Brown. When it comes to their personal life, though, the power couple keep it private. They’ve been friends for years, and are rumored to have started dating in early ’08.

Professionally, Rihanna and Chris Brown couldn’t be more high-profile. She has just been named Billboard’s Top Female Artist of the Year, and he earned both Top Male Artist and Top Artist of the Year.

The 19-year-old Brown helped write her hit “Disturbia,” and during her recent tour of Australia and New Zealand, he joined Rihanna nightly onstage for “Umbrella.”

Tonight, Rihanna, 20, is headlining the B96 Jingle Bash at the Allstate Arena with David Archuleta and Jesse McCartney. And, surprise surprise — there will be a “special appearance” by Brown.

When it comes to their personal life, though, the power couple keep it private. They’ve been friends for years, and are rumored to have started dating in early ’08.

Good luck getting them to admit it, though.

Despite all the paparazzi, an offstage photo of the two of them together is “a rare commodity,” says Ian Drew, editor at large of Us Weekly. “It’s almost like there’s a bounty on it.”

They go to clubs together but leave separately. They have two sets of matching tattoos — one is stars, the other described as “tribal patterns.” They downplay any significance to the identical ink. “A lot of people have the same tattoos,” Rihanna has said.

Whether they’re just friends or friends with benefits, they’ve had an enviable year. “They’re doing everything right,” Drew says. “Everything they touch turns to gold.”

A few reasons why it works:

1. They’re equals.

No competition here — Brown’s last album went platinum, and his talent has been compared to Michael Jackson’s. The Grammy-winning Rihanna has had endorsement deals with Gucci, Nike, Cover Girl, Samsung and even Totes umbrellas. “His coolness under pressure and generally amiable personality seems to help,” says Jonathan Alpert, a psychotherapist and relationship expert.

2. They’re private.

“Unlike the oversaturated Jolie-Pitts or the over-the-top shadow of Ike and Tina Turner, this couple is still building their individual and coupled-up celebrity brand,” says Rachel Weingarten, a creative brand strategist. The result: They’re sexy, successful and just a bit mysterious.

3. They defy nicknaming.

Bennifer, Brangelina, TomKat — the catchier the couple’s nickname, the sooner it becomes annoying. The media has attempted to label the lovebirds “Chrihanna,” but it just hasn’t taken off.

4. They’ve got great role models.

Rihanna is a prodigy of Jay-Z, and she’s learned well from his example. In fact, Rihanna and Brown are shaping up to be junior versions of Beyonce and Jay-Z. They’re supporting each other’s projects, taking it slow and thoroughly enjoying the merry-go-round.

“These two are the young hot couple,” says Us’ Drew. “They rule the music world.”

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