Rihanna on AMA's red carpet in 2009.
|Birth name||Robyn Rihanna Fenty|
|Born||February 20, 1988 (1988-02-20)|
|Origin||Saint Michael, Barbados|
|Genres||R&B, pop, reggae|
|Occupations||Singer, songwriter, dancer, model|
In 2005, Rihanna released her debut studio album, Music of the Sun, which peaked in the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart and features the Billboard Hot 100 hit single "Pon de Replay". Less than a year later, she released her second studio album, A Girl Like Me (2006), which peaked within the top five of the Billboard albums chart, and produced her first US number one hit single, "SOS", as well as Billboard Hot 100 top ten entries "Unfaithful" and "Break It Off". Rihanna's third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), peaking at number two on the Billboard 200, featured five top ten hits including three US number one hit singles—"Umbrella", "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia"—and the worldwide hit "Don't Stop the Music". The album was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella," which features Jay-Z. Her fourth studio album, Rated R, was released in November 2009. Its first three singles, "Russian Roulette," "Hard" and "Rude Boy," peaked within the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100 joining with Beyonce for the female artist with the most top ten hits in the United States since 2000.
Rihanna has received several accolades, including the 2007 World Music Awards for World's Best-Selling Pop Female Artist and Female Entertainer of the Year, as well as the 2008 American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. Rihanna has attained six Hot 100 number one singles, becoming the female artist with the most number ones attained within the 2000s. She also serves as one of Barbados' honorary cultural ambassadors. In January 2010, Rihanna received two Grammy Awards for Jay-Z's 2009 single "Run This Town", bringing her total number of Grammys won to three.
Volume 65 of the Contemporary Black Biography book series notes that "Rihanna is the rare rhythm and blues (R&B) diva to emerge from the Caribbean world." Becoming an international sensation, Rihanna is known for blending R&B with Caribbean music, such as reggae and dancehall. Peter Coulter of the Antrim Times commented that "[Rihanna] has an amazing voice which showed during her acoustic set, she just needs to work on her audience engagement during live shows." At the time of her debut, reviewers referred to her as a "bubblegum queen" and her music to "teen pop." Larry Meyler of The Sun stated that "Rihanna going bad is very good" and that she had "[shaken] off any "teen pop" image as she rocked the stage." While performing at the Ottawa Bluesfest in 2006, Denis Armstrong of Canadian Online Explorer commented on her performance saying "her show was a Disney-esque choreographed fantasy of non-stop hip-swivelling, sassy attitude and personal endearments and a string of funky, sugar-free hits." After revealing a new image while headlining her first tour, she was likely to be criticize for her tight leather outfit during each show. A review in The Times compared Rihanna's stage wardrobe styling to that of Janet Jackson. He also described her outfit as "a vision of Ann Summers couture in thigh-high boots and a few scraps of black PVC." However, Stuart Derdeyn of The Province commented that "even with the whole haute couture B&D clearly firing on all points, she's still got a ways to go to become the new Janet Jackson."
Music and themesreggae singer since she burst on scene in 2005, with a styles of pop, R&B and dancehall. Her music also include various styles of musical genres, including contemporary R&B, dance-pop, pop rock and the Caribbean music styles of reggae and dancehall. With the release of her debut album Music of the Sun and its lead single "Pon de Replay", Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic described Rihanna's musical style as "synthesize Caribbean rhythms and beats with standard-issue urban dance-pop: Caribbean-inflected urban, if you will." Rihanna is also described as utilizing "dancehall-lite beats and a reggae vocal cadence." NME describes the singer as a "heady mix of dancehall, reggae and contemporary R&B." During the release of her sophomore album, many critics felt that Rihanna's sound and substance was too heavily similar to that of Beyoncé's. The media even made negative reviews comparing her music, music videos, performances and even her image to Beyoncé, which garnered Rihanna much criticism. Some media even claimed that Jay-Z fashioned her to be a replica of Beyoncé. Barry Walters of Rolling Stone considers Rihanna's A Girl Like Me to be "lightweight dancehall and R&B jams." After the release of Good Girl Gone Bad, Allmusic's Andy Kellman credits Rihanna to be "as pop as pop gets." Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times described her hit "Umbrella" as a lightweight pop confection with a heavy hip-hop backbeat, a breezy love song enriched by those unexpectedly goth-sounding keyboards and by the incongruous hint of anguish in Rihanna’s girlish voice.
Her debut album featured a refreshing touch from pop veterans Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken of Syndicated Rhythm productions, who first discovered her. Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers have collaborated with Rihanna many times, including with her debut single "Pon de Replay", which helped launch her career with the tradition of reggae and dance pop and also collaborated on her sophomore album. Rihanna then enlisted into the pop and contemporary R&B working with music producer Stargate and singer-songwriter Ne-Yo on "Unfaithful" and sampling the key section, bass line, and drum beat from Soft Cell's 1981 single "Tainted Love" on "SOS". The concept of her third studio album was to head in a new direction with the help of music producers Timbaland, will.i.am and Sean Garrett, and also to re-imagine her album compositions with fresh, uptempo dance tracks. While recording the album, Rihanna stated that she wants to keep people dancing but still be soulful at the same time. She then commented "You feel different every album, and [at] this stage I feel like I want to do a lot of uptempo [songs]." She also began taking voice lessons from Ne-Yo for the third album. With songs like "Kisses Don't Lie" and "Shut Up and Drive", her music style became more pop rock oriented. Unlike Music of the Sun or A Girl Like Me, her third album contained a more dance-pop sound and less of the dancehall, reggae and ballad styles of her previous albums. She has included various styles of music from uptempo pop-reggae with "Pon De Replay", to an 80's new wave fueled club banger "SOS" to the whiff of gothic horror in a love song "Unfaithful". Most of her love subject ballads contain a mid-tempo pop sound, with an R&B influences that uses of a gently strummed acoustic guitar with the production of Stargate and the songs written by Ne-Yo. Some of her up-tempo dance-pop songs include production from Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, Christopher "Tricky" Stewart and J. R. Rotem. She has also taken to the music industry tradition of sampling songs from other artist like Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" on "SOS", New Order's "Blue Monday" on "Shut Up and Drive" and '70s original song "Soul Makossa" of Manu Dibango with a part of the chorus from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'" on "Don't Stop the Music".
InfluencesOne of Rihanna's major influences and idols is Mariah Carey, whose song "Hero" she covered while performing at a school talent show. She says, "I looked up to [Mariah] a lot and I still do. I admire her as an artist, and to [compete with her] was a moment I will never forget for the rest of my life. Rihanna also considers Madonna as one of her biggest influences and said that she wants to be the "black Madonna". She mentioned that she respects Madonna's ability to reinvent herself and aspires to be just as successful. Beyoncé Knowles has also been named as her major influence, citing that she was inspired to start her career after watching Knowles on television as part of a Destiny's Child performance . Her other musical influences include Bob Marley, Alicia Keys Whitney Houston, Destiny's Child, Celine Dion, Brandy, and Gwen Stefani. Her music also contains strong influences of caribbean music and says that it has influenced her tremendously. Her friend and former Island Def Jam record label artist Fefe Dobson was someone that she admired and looked up to, having a fellow artist writing, singing, and performing the music she truly loves. In a interview, Rihanna stated, that while growing up in Barbados, she grew up listening to reggae music and when she came to the United States she was exposed to many different types of music.
VideographyJon Bream of the Star Tribune commented "[i]n the tradition of Madonna and Janet Jackson, Rihanna has become the video vixen of the '00s ... Rihanna has perfected the pout, the long-legged strut and trend-setting hairdos that keep women and men alike checking her out on YouTube." George Epaminondas of InStyle considers Rihanna's music videos to be "cinematic" due to her "blend of lush island rhythms and swinging pop and ... mischievous sensuality." Rihanna commented that Marilyn Monroe and vintage clothing served for visual inspiration for the music video "Hate That I Love You" and "Rehab"; in contrast, the "dark, creepy" scenes of "Disturbia" have drawn comparison to Michael Jackson's Thriller. The music video also ranked number five on the "Top Five Most Paranoid Music Videos" published by MTV Buzzworthy.
Style and imageNew York magazine described Rihanna's early look as a cookie-cutter teen queen and that she has the ability to shift looks so dramatically and with such ease. Since the release of her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, [Rihanna's] has become a sex symbol and also set herself apart from other R&B starlets, opting for designer couture over belly-baring crop tops. Sonya Magett of Black Voices reported that Rihanna's style has become quite risqué since she burst on the scene 4 years ago. In 2008, she constantly surprised, switching from pretty and sweet in pastels on the red carpet to dominatrix-leaning wear on stage and at awards shows. Rihanna's fashion and style also landed her on the list of People's 10 Best Dressed Stars of 2008. Glamour also awarded Rihanna with the seventeenth most glamorous woman of 2009 out of fifty. Glamour also commented on Rihanna's style saying "rockstar of leading ladies" and "She almost can’t make a style mistake right now.” They also said her "little-bit-punky, very-much-girly look still entrances readers." They also commented on Rihanna's fashion risks saying "If style risks could be measured in miles, Rihanna would have criss-crossed the globe a thousand times over already."
Rihanna's image has also been identified as a sex symbol. Regal of the Associated Content stated that Rihanna quickly acquired a more mature and definitely sexier look. In 2007, she ranked #8 in Maxim's 2007 Hot 100 list; she then ranked #15 on 2008 Hot 100 list the following year. In June 2007, Rihanna was named 2007 Venus Breeze’s "Celebrity Legs Of A Goddess" by Gillette. Margeaux Watson of Entertainment Weekly wrote an article entitled "Rihanna: Diva of the year" which he refers to her breakout success of 2008. In 2009, Maxim named Rihanna the eighth-sexiest woman on earth. This made Rihanna the only female of African descent in the top twenty.
Rihanna's tattoos have drawn much media attention. She has a total of thirteen known tattoos, including a music note tattoo on her ankle; a Pisces sign behind her right ear; a Sanskrit prayer going down her hip; a star in her left ear; the word "love" on her left middle finger; an Arabic phrase, meaning "Freedom is God", on her ribcage area; a trail of stars going down the back of her neck; a skull with a pink hair bow; the phrase "shhh..." on her right index finger; the date 11.4.86 in Roman numerals on top of her left shoulder a henna-style dragon claw including hibiscus flowers; a handgun under her right armpit; and a six-word phrase on her chest.
Her gun tattoo was planned to be just below her shoulders but was ultimately located on her ribcage. In answer to criticism for her violence-themed tattoo, Keith "Bang Bang" McCurdy, her tattoo artist, was quick to explain his opinion that the image simply "represents strength and power". Her most recent tattoo is on her chest and reads, "Never a failure, always a lesson". She had it tattoed backwards, McCurdy says, because she wanted to be able to read it in the mirror. When he asked why she wanted it, she said that it was her "motto in life for everything".
Relations with BarbadosRihanna is heavily involved in the marketing of her native country of Barbados. She began by including the flag and broken trident in many of her videos, also shooting her album packaging for A Girl Like Me there. In September 2007, she became the official face of tourism for Barbados, being included in many of their ad campaigns. She currently holds an honourary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados. She additionally was honored by the Prime Minister David Thompson, who presented her several gifts at a national concert on 20 February 2008 in Barbados, called "Rihanna Day". Regardless, In February 2008, Rihanna thanked her country and honoured them during the acceptance speech for her win of "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" at the Grammy Awards. Although Rihanna is heavily involved in the promotion of her country and works with the government in Barbados to do so, she is constantly criticized and ridiculed for everything from her music, her successes and for wearing "skimpy clothes". Rihanna speaking on the incident, "I went to the beach and I had on a one-piece swimsuit with jeans, They took the picture and they made it look like a top that was really revealing. There were radio programmes about it. It was a big deal for, like, three weeks straight - talking about I'm not setting a good example." Rihanna also states she was bullied at school. "Having lighter skin wasn’t a problem in my household, but it was when I went to school — which really confused me at first. The harassment continued to my very last day of elementary school."
They also mentioned that Rihanna was too young for Def Jam to push her as a "sex symbol", making a plea that she cover up. The media and The Nation newspaper constantly make personal attacks and have shown lack of support and encouragement. Rihanna spoke out against the scrutiny to Entertainment Weekly stating, "They all hate me. I didn’t have to talk about them. I didn’t have to even mention that I’m from Barbados. But I do and people kind of take it for granted. They hate me. They talk shit about me all the time. But I’m like, "Whatever. I’m still doing this cause I love to do it and you’re not going to stop me". Media fought back with letters to Rihanna publicly via a Barbadian newspaper, "[what she said] sounds as if though she is doing us a favour. If God didn't give us a Rihanna, he would have given us someone else. So don't ever for a second get to thinking you are irreplaceable, Rihanna" and "Her putting Barbados on the map is nonsense. Barbados was well on the map before she came along; and will be when she is gone". Her mentor and music producer Evan Rogers spoke out to the media stating that Rihanna subsequently "formed her impression of any Bajan dislike from the reception she received at the recent Barbados Music Awards where," according to Rogers, "It was disappointing the way some people reacted as if they were almost rooting against her".
Products and endorsementsIn October 2005, Rihanna struck her first endorsement deal with Secret Body Spray for them to sponsor her first tour. In 2006, Rihanna participated in several endorsement deals, including Nike sportswear for the launch of her "SOS" and J. C. Penney. In 2007, Rihanna signed with CoverGirl and became a celebrity spokesperson which included appearances on TV commercials and in the Barbados Tourism Authority's tourism commercials. She also received an endorsement deal from Clinique in 2006 to promote their Happy fragrance. She recorded a song written by Ne-Yo entitled "Just Be Happy" as part of the deal to promote their Happy fragrance. Rihanna also recorded a song called "Winning Women" with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger for P&G's female deodorant Secret.
In December 2008, Rihanna contracted with Gucci to appear in their ads for the Tattoo Heart Collection, a special-edition line. In the Gucci handbag ad, Rihanna is seen hanging from a giant hoop, scantily clad in a barely-there white bodysuit and wearing an oversized white Gucci purse. The success of her single, "Umbrella" also inked an endorsement deal with Totes. Her handlers pitched her hit "Umbrella" to Totes and the song became the soundtrack for commercials in which she starred. On April 8, 2009, it was announced that Rihanna inked a fragrance deal with Jay-Z’s licensing company Iconic Fragrances. Iconic Fragrance will launch the fragrance in the summer of 2010. Rihanna confirmed whilst on the radio show "Valentine In The Morning" that her new fragrance is called "Route 22". Rihanna is working with her artistic director for Rated R, Simon Henwood, on the book Rihanna: The Last Girl on Earth. It is scheduled for release on June 29, 2010.
Other projectsIn 2007, Rihanna began showing interest in making film appearances. She made her acting debut in a cameo role to the film Bring It On: All or Nothing, released on August 8, 2006. During this time, she stated that singing was always the bigger picture, but she definitely wants to get into acting as well. Rihanna also made an appearance as the central character in Kanye West's music video "Paranoid".
PhilanthropyRihanna created her Believe Foundation in 2006 to help terminally ill children. Rihanna explained her reasons for starting the Foundation saying, "When I was young and I would watch television and I would see all the children suffering, I always said: when I grow up, I want to help." Rihanna has also performed a number of concerts to raise funds for both charities and the Foundation and is also a 2008 Cartier Love Charity Bracelet Ambassador. She performed at Madonna’s Raising Malawi fundraiser on February 6, 2008 in New York City. After becoming an honorary cultural ambassador for Barbados, Rihanna became involed with DKMS, an international donor network based in Tübingen, Germany, to try to find a donor for Lisa Gershowitz Flynn. She was diagnosed in November with acute myelogenous leukemia.
In January 2008, Rihanna contributed in the fight against AIDS when she visited the H&M in New York to support Fashion Against AIDS by presenting her t-shirt design and signing autographs for a limited time with slogans like "Believe" and "Stop and Think." The collection features t-shirts and hoodies designed by Rihanna, Timbaland and other well-known designers, musicians and artists. The line, called Fashion Against AIDS, was launched in February 2008 to raise awareness of the disease among teens and spread awareness about HIV/AIDS. In August 2008, Rihanna and other pop, rock, R&B and country singers such as Carrie Underwood, Ciara, Beyoncé Knowles, Leona Lewis, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, and Fergie recorded the charity single, "Just Stand Up!", the theme song to the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer and its theme song. The singers performed the song live on September 5, 2008. In 2008, Rihanna was selected as the spokesmodel for Gucci’s first United Nations Children's Fund ad campaign. She appeared in the fashion house’s Tattoo Heart campaign, which premiered in December 2008. Rihanna was photographed in series of special edition print ads with United Nations Children's Fund items, twenty-five percent of sales will benefit the children’s charity.
On November 19, 2008, Rihanna was enlisted by Gucci's Frida Giannini along with Madonna to light the United Nations Children's Fund Christmas snowflake in New York City at the Grand Army Plaza. In 2008, she became the global representative and the face of the 4th annual Gucci Campaign to Benefit United Nations Children's Fund. The campaign aimed to raise funds for children in Africa through the sale of its Tattoo Heart collection of bags, which launched worldwide on November 19, 2008. Rihanna has also been apart of many benefit concerts to help raise money for various illnesses, such as cancer for Hope Rocks. Rihanna performed on January 20, 2009 at the Recording Industry Association of America's Presidential Inauguration Charity Ball to raise money for the world largest anti-hunger organization.
On April 2, 2009, Rihanna visited the NYU Medical Center to help look for another bone marrow donor for a young girl named Jasmina Anema. Rihanna first learned about Anema's plight in February 2009, when she saw the moving video Anema's best friend, Isabelle Huurman, and her mother, Karen Detrick, made appealing for donors to save Anema. Rihanna honored Anema's best friend, Isabella, for her efforts for trying to save her best friend at a DKMS Gala on May 7, 2009. Jasmina Anema eventually received her transplant on June 11, 2009, but died on January 27, 2010. In September 2009, Rihanna performed at Jay-Z's "Answer to Call" concert, which paid tribute to the police officers and firefighters who died on the September 11 attacks.
- Rihanna 2006 Tour (2006)
- The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour (2007–09)
- Rihanna Believe Tour (2008)
- Glow in the Dark Tour (2008)
- Rated R Tour (2010)