ELLE’s exceptional October issue is out today! Complete with global megastar Rihanna on the cover, plus a whole host of other treats – you can pick up your copy at your local newsagents and selected book stories now. Let the feverish page-turning commence. To sate your Riri appetite until you make it to the shops, we’re […]
Featured on HarveyNichols.com site with her new Fenty Beauty line, Rihanna talks about having her first makeup done, diversity and quality of her beauty line and her involvement in the whole process. She also gives her fans and customers a very important advice regarding makeup. Rihanna On The Early Years “The first time I remember […]
Rihanna keeps it real when it comes to beauty and being “realistic” about her flaws. ET’s Keltie Knight caught up with the 29-year-old singer at the Fenty Beauty By Rihanna launch event in New York City on Thursday, where she opened up about her earliest memories of doing her makeup and celebrating all types of […]
Rihanna presented her new Fenty x Puma collection in an intimate salon setting in Paris today, though legions of her fans across the globe tuned in to watch the live-stream on Tidal. Just minutes before the lights went up on the runway, as models such as Imaan Hammam, Taylor Hill, and Anwar Hadid milled about […]
You read parts of the following interview in Vogue’s April cover story. The interview took place on Super Bowl Sunday in the sprawling gothic home of Carlton Gebbia, whom fans of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills will remember as the “Celtic pagan witch” from season four. Rihanna had just flown in to L.A. for her cover shoot from Toronto, where the night before she and Drake wrapped the video for “Work.” Later in the week, she would present her Puma collection at New York Fashion Week. But on this sunny California afternoon, Rihanna arrived casually turned out, in a vintage Guess leather biker jacket, green Vetements sweatpants, and a Star Wars T-shirt.
For a Wiccan, Gebbia’s taste favored a surprising dose of Catholic iconography. Ornate iron crosses hung above doorways, framed paintings of saints ascended a staircase wall, and, in a vamp-red bar room, there was a dark-wood confessional booth. Rihanna and I spoke in the home theater. It was after 9:00 p.m., the shoot had wrapped, and two men in suits had just stopped by from the Recording Industry Association of America. After they left, Rihanna wandered into the theater and plopped down in one of several red leather recliners. A member of her team poured Dixie cups of Pinot Grigio.
I wanted to talk about Anti first. The opening song, “Consideration,” sets the tone for the album. Was the process of recording it different in any way?
I just felt really connected to that recording. I felt like, if any recording could represent this album, whether it’s sonically, whether it’s the sound of my voice, whether it’s the attitude, whether it’s lyrically. The beat. Everything is so demanding, and it grabs your attention right away. And I felt like that was important, especially after such a long time between albums.
On “Higher,” we hear a completely different dimension to your voice. Can you tell me about recording that one?
We recorded that song at 4:00 in the morning. 4:00 to 5:00. We had finished recording a bunch of stuff, and it was the end of the night. It was pretty short. We just said, “You know what? Let’s just drink some whiskey and record this song.” And when I heard the song, I envisioned a drunk voicemail. You know he’s wrong, and then you get drunk and you’re like, “I could forgive him. I could call him. I could make up with him.” Just, desperate. [laughs]
You dropped “Work” first, obviously. There’s sort of a vocal variation in that song. I think one writer called it “post-language”—that flourish on the chorus. Did that just unfold in the studio?
Yeah. Because I felt like if I enunciated the words too perfectly, it would just not be the same attitude or the same sass. Because that’s how we speak in the Caribbean. It’s very broken and it’s, like, you can understand everything someone means without even finishing the words. This song is definitely a song that represents my culture, and so I had to put a little twist on my delivery.
And you’re coming from shooting the video for “Work,” right? What were you going for?
It was just supposed to be a dancehall party. Just like a party that we would go to in the Caribbean and just dance and drink and smoke and flirt and really just enjoy the music. It’s like when your favorite song comes on. And that was the moment that was captured in the video.
How is working with Drake different from working with anyone else?
Um, Drake. I mean, Drake has a lot to offer. He’s very intelligent, and so I trust him a lot with his direction. Doing a collaboration with him, you know it’s going to be great. Everything he does is so amazing. He’s so talented that you kind of just trust that it’ll be right. And plus, we know each other, so I know that whatever he writes is going to be honest, and it’s going to make sense to where I’m at in my life. That’s the difference. We know each other.
Overall, it seems like the songs are slower and slightly more introspective and personal. Did you know that that’s what you wanted to do?
I didn’t really know what the sound of the album would be in the beginning. I knew what I wanted to feel. I didn’t quite know how I wanted to hear it, but I knew that I would know it when I felt it. And so I went through a host of songs—songs that I thought were big and songs that I thought were up-tempo and would make sense. In the end, I just gravitated toward the songs that were honest to where I’m at right now, and how I think. The things that I want to listen to. The things that I want to smoke to.
Were you getting bored of the formula?
Very much. Every time we’ve done an album, we’ve always stepped out a little bit. But this time, again, we spent so much time in between albums that I needed the music to match my growth. I didn’t want to get caught up with anything the world liked, anything the radio liked, anything that I liked, that I’ve already heard. I just wanted it to be me.
It seems bold considering the state of the industry, to double down on the risk-taking.
I always believed that when you follow your heart or your gut, when you really follow the things that feel great to you, you can never lose, because settling is the worst feeling in the world.
Settling makes you feel like a sellout. It makes you feel like a liar. It doesn’t make you feel like you believe anything you’re saying or singing or performing. If you’re performing music that is not who you are or where you’re at, it is painful. It’s painful for the performer and for the audience. And I didn’t want to be caught doing what I felt like would sell or do what I’ve done before. I needed to do what I believed in.
The press has been all over the place with the theory that it was leaked. Can you set the record straight about the rollout?
It did get leaked. Don’t think that’s up for question anymore. Everybody knows it got leaked. But luckily that did not hurt us.
You also announced the tour before dropping the album. You’re touring with Travis Scott. Creatively, why were you attracted to working with him?
Well, when I go on tour, I like to bring people who can get the crowd excited. That’s why we got Big Sean in Europe. We also have The Weeknd. And Travis Scott. They are all really great performers. They know how to own the stage. And that’s really important before I come on. Because I want to come to a crowd that’s like [snaps fingers] in a great mood. They’re excited. They feel like they’re ready to party.
I want to ask you about signing on to release your music through Tidal. Why did you decide to release your music that way?
Well, a part of our plan was to stream or download the album exclusively for the first 24 hours, which was going to be done through a Samsung link that fans had to enter and redeem. And Samsung felt like the best machine for that was Tidal.
Artists seem to be going the streaming route more and more, right?
It’s true. Streaming is a really big market for me. We’ve been doing great in the streaming market, so it’s not something I want to alienate at all. Streaming counts now. They’re treating artists the way we deserve to be treated. So it’s not blindly—it’s not invisible sales or invisible streams or invisible listens or downloads.
Before it was just—it was robbing us. Before streaming, it was robbing artists. Robbing us of our sales. It’s free music. So now the free music counts. It is definitely going to make a big difference in the music industry. For a fact.
IT’S SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, and I am in the large gothic home of Real Housewife Carlton Gebbia in Beverly Hills, the setting for Rihanna’s Vogueshoot. The 28-year-old singer appears in the doorway, fresh off a plane from Toronto, where the night before she and Drake wrapped the video for their hit single “Work.” She is wearing a vintage Guess leather biker jacket, a gray Star Wars T-shirt, and green Vetements sweatpants, her sleek black hair chopped into a blunt nineties bob. Even such a Netflix-and-chill look cannot conceal the singular proportions of her body. She hugs me hello and then floats upstairs, where hair and makeup stylists await.
I settle into a chair outside and pass the time by—what else?—checking my phone. Thanks to the demands of the 24-hour news cycle, every Instagram post by a pop star has become a source of intrigue, every teased video clip fodder for frenzied speculation. On this particular afternoon, the RiRi chatter, robust on any day, is reaching peak hysteria.
Ten days earlier, Rihanna dropped Anti, her first album since 2012. For seven years, she had released a new pop confection every year, like clockwork. Then, suddenly, nothing. It wasn’t just the timing. Anti immediately announced itself as something different. A defiant, idiosyncratic mix of dance hall, doo-wop, and soul, it did not deliver her usual instantly gratifying, reliable pop formula. Stoking the fire were rumors that Anti was leaked through Tidal, the streaming service run by Jay Z and co-owned by Rihanna. Next were the reports of impossibly low sales figures. Then, the day before, out of nowhere, came the surprise release of Beyoncé’s pointedly political video for “Formation.” The Internet is ablaze: Did Bey just try to steal RiRi’s thunder? And, most breathlessly: Is Rihanna going to make a surprise appearance at the Super Bowl?!
Rihanna, meanwhile, is reclining on a chaise on a veranda in the sun, taking pulls from a joint and sending wisps of smoke into the cloudless California sky. She’s listening to a remix of Sia’s “Chandelier,” occasionally belting out a lyric in that inimitable Bajan tone: “I’m gonna live like tomorrow doesn’t exist! Like it doesn’t exist!”
WE ARE LIVING in a golden age of pop divas. Beyoncé, Taylor Swift, Adele: Rarely have the top ranks been so ruled by women. We feel vulnerable with Adele, empowered by Taylor. We want to watch Beyoncé. Watch her dance, watch her dominate the marketplace, watch her slay. In this gloriously crowded arena, Rihanna transmits something unique. Not afraid to show us her flaws, Rihanna inspires us to, as her friend Cara Delevingne puts it, “go with your instinct and go with your gut, and if people don’t like you, fuck ’em.”
This take-it-or-leave-it realness is what draws young women into the ranks of Rihanna’s fiercely loyal fan base, known as her Navy, after a lyric from her song “G4L.” And in 2016, the Navy is going to get a lot of Rihanna.
Over the next few weeks alone, her plan is to fly to New York to debut a collectionshe designed for Puma at New York Fashion Week; return to L.A. for theGrammys; then head to London to perform at the Brit Awards (she will grind with Drake in white-hot fringed pants); and, two days after that, go back to California to begin a 63-city world tour. Her looks on tour are “inspired by neutral earth tones,” she says, “and evolve from one extreme to the other as the show progresses.” Joining her will be Big Sean and the Weeknd in Europe, as well as Travis Scott, whom she’s been seen out with in the last few months. “I like to bring people who can get the crowd excited,” she says.
“I probably am going to have like four days of tour rehearsal in total, which is Freaking. Me. Out,” Rihanna says. It’s after 9:00 p.m., the shoot is over, and we’re sitting cross-legged in red leather recliners in the home theater of the Beverly Hills house, sipping Pinot Grigio from Dixie cups. “My schedule is so crazy right now.” It’s why, she says, she’s single: “It’s definitely going to be a challenge when I do decide to pursue a relationship . . . but I have hope!” Exercise is also hard to find time for. “I don’t work out as much as I’d like to,” she says, “but my trainer Jamie is a beast and she makes me pay for it.”
“I’m on cloud nine,” said Rihanna, the pop star turned brand ambassador and women’s creative director of Puma, after her first fashion show for the label. An hour earlier, her first full collection, a street-inspired, Japanophile departure from Puma’s usual sport-ready performance wear, had come down an L.E.D. runway to a crowd that included Naomi […]
Puma put its cards on the table in the high-stakes game of celebrity collaborations Friday, properly launching the Fenty Puma by Rihanna collection during New York Fashion Week in the 8 p.m. time slot at 23 Wall Street. Maybe it’s fairer to say that Rihanna put Puma’s cards on the table. She is the German athletic company’s […]