Rihanna is the latest star to grace the cover of the British issue of the Fashion Bible, i.e. Vogue. She and Steven Klein worked magic in the studio and two amazing and ground-breaking covers came out of their collaboration.
Rihanna as the trendsetter she is is the first cover star to wear durag on the cover of the British Vogue. Check out the magazine’s piece about this iconic headwear. As you might expect, it was Rihanna’s suggestion to include the durag in the first place.
The photoshoot is accompanied by a great interview. Rihanna talks music, having kids, understanding immigrants, being the first black woman to run a luxury house and much more. To read the full interview that took place in Los Angeles not so long ago, navigate to British Vogue’s website.
Below you can read the 5 pieces that stood out to me.
New Rihanna music can drop anytime
“I can’t say when I’m going to drop,” she says (it could even be out by the time you read this). “But I am very aggressively working on music,” she adds, coyly.
What can we expect?
“I don’t want my albums to feel like themes,” she says, taking a sip of wine. “There are no rules. There’s no format. There’s just good music, and if I feel it, I’m putting it out.”
Does that mean that, contrary to reports, it’s not going to be a reggae album, I ask, trying to hide my disappointment. Rihanna chuckles.
“Oh no, that is happening,” she reassures me. But on this, as in life, she won’t be pinned down.
“I feel like I have no boundaries. I’ve done everything – I’ve done all the hits, I’ve tried every genre – now I’m just, I’m wide open. I can make anything that I want.”
She wants to have 3 or 4 kids
“I know I will want to live differently,” she continues. The main difference she has in mind is children. When I ask her where she sees herself in 10 years, she says, in a distinctively Bajan tone of disbelief,
“Ten years? I’ll be 42! I’ll be ancient.” She playfully ignores my outrage (I’m almost 40 myself) at this idea. “I’ll have kids – three or four of ’em.”
And if you haven’t met the right person, I venture, would you do it on your own?
“Hell, yeah,” comes the unequivocal response. “I feel like society makes me want to feel like, ‘Oh, you got it wrong…’ They diminish you as a mother if there’s not a dad in your kids’ lives. But the only thing that matters is happiness, that’s the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child. That’s the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love.”
Going out means she can be invisible
For the last three years, Rihanna has mostly lived in London, where she says she loves to record music and generally create. The notorious party girl is a little less committed these days, and she takes it upon herself to provide a disclaimer as to why, when she does go out, it’s with the fanciest of crowds.
“I like it because they’re too bougie to give a shit about me. When I walk into those places, I am invisible. And nothing makes me feel better than being invisible.”
Where would she like to be going if visibility weren’t an issue?
“I’d rather go to Brixton,” she laughs. “But if I do that now, and I try to get some Jamaican food, it’s going to be an event, you know? So if I want a night off, I go hang with the people I would never hang with. And I just, I’m just in my bubble. Which I really enjoy about London.”
Immigration issues are close to her heart
It is well documented that the star was born and raised in Barbados, but her mother, Monica, was an immigrant to the Caribbean island from Guyana, the former British colony in South America. Rihanna tells me that Guyanese immigrants were unpopular in Barbados when she was growing up.
“The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she says. “So I identify – and that’s why I really relate and empathise with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”
“Not my mother, my mother was legal,” she is careful to clarify, “but let’s just say I know what that fight looks like. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve been in it. I was probably, what, eight-years-old when I experienced that in the middle of the night. So I know how disheartening it is for a child – and if that was my parent that was getting dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a shambles.”
“So when I see these injustices happening, it’s hard to turn a blind eye,” Rihanna continues. “It’s hard to pretend it’s not happening. The things that I refuse to stay silent on, these are things that I genuinely believe in.”
And not just in America. Living in London has, Rihanna says, given her a different perspective on the global struggle against racism and injustice.
“I think police brutality is probably extremely severe in America, but racism is alive everywhere. Everywhere,” she emphasises. “It’s the same [in the UK]. It’s either blatant, which is becoming more and more of a norm, or it’s underlying, where people don’t even know they’re being obvious about it. You know, it’s just a subconscious layer that’s embedded from their entire core.”
Anxiety made her not perform at the Grammy’s in 2016
Rihanna says she hasn’t watched her [NAACP] speech back yet. “I can’t listen to my voice, you know.” I’m taken aback by the idea that Rihanna, her voice omnipresent in our culture, shares the broadcaster’s familiar dread at hearing herself speak.
“Oh, I’m nervous before even getting in the car to go to something,” she says. “It can be devastating. And when I pull up to the red carpet, I’m like…” she imitates crisis breathing.
“Are you kidding me? I left the Grammys one time. Left! In the middle of my hair and make-up. My hair half up, half of my lash on…”
It was 2016 and she had been due to perform “Kiss It Better” from her Anti album. At the time she was said to have left because of issues with her voice, but anxiety can be just as flooring. She laughs about it now, but she wants me to know it’s harder for her than it looks.
“Being on camera, being in a room full of celebrities is still not normal for me, by the way.”