Her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), and its chart-topping lead single "Umbrella" were major breakthroughs in her career that brought her to widespread prominence. The album and its Reloaded version (2008) produced the worldwide hit singles "Don't Stop the Music", "Take a Bow", and "Disturbia". The record was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella". Following a highly-publicized altercation with then-boyfriend Chris Brown, she released her fourth studio album, Rated R, in November 2009. It was followed by three more albums: Loud (2010), Talk That Talk (2011), and her first Billboard 200 number one album Unapologetic (2012). That same year, she appeared in her first theatrical feature film, Battleship. Many of her songs rank among the world's best-selling singles of all time, such as "Umbrella", "Take a Bow", "Disturbia", "Only Girl (In the World)", "S&M", "We Found Love", and "Diamonds". In addition to her solo work, Rihanna has collaborated with numerous other artists, including being featured on the worldwide hits "Live Your Life" (with T.I.), "Run This Town" (with Jay-Z and Kanye West), "Love the Way You Lie" and "The Monster" (both with Eminem).
Rihanna is known for consistently reinventing her style and image, most notably since her third album Good Girl Gone Bad. Her work has earned her numerous awards and accolades, including seven Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, 22 Billboard Music Awards, and two BRIT Awards. She has sold over 30 million albums and 120 million singles worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She has achieved thirteen number one singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming the youngest and fastest solo artist to achieve the feat. Billboard named her the Digital Songs Artist of the 2000s decade and the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade. In 2012, Forbes ranked her the fourth most powerful celebrity of the year, with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012. The same year, TIME named Rihanna one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. On November 24, 2013, Rihanna was presented with the first ever American Music "Icon" Award.
Rihanna grew up in the city of Bridgetown, Barbados.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, in Saint Michael, Barbados. Her mother is Monica Braithwaite, a retired Afro-Guyanese accountant, and her father is Ronald Fenty, a warehouse supervisor of Barbadian and Irish descent. Rihanna has two brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty, and two half-sisters and a half-brother from her father's side, each born to different mothers from his previous relationships. She grew up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown and sold clothes with her father in a stall on the street. Rihanna's childhood was deeply affected by her father's addiction to crack cocaine, alcohol, and marijuana, and her parents' turbulent marriage ended when she was 14. Rihanna grew up listening to reggae music and began singing at around the age of seven. She attended Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School and Combermere High School, where she formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. Rihanna was an army cadet in a sub-military programme; the singer-songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant. Although she initially wanted to graduate from high school, she chose to pursue a musical career instead.
2003–06: Beginnings and early releases
Rihanna's career began through her association with American record producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers; she met Rogers through mutual friends in Barbados in December 2003. She caught the attention of Rogers, who asked Rihanna to come to his hotel room, where she performed renditions of the songs "Emotion" and "Hero". This impressed Rogers, who then took Rihanna and her mother to New York City to record some demo tapes. Rihanna was signed to Rogers' and Sturken's production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions, which assigned her a lawyer and manager. In late 2004, her demo tape was distributed to record labels around the world, where it captured the attention of Jay Brown, an A&R executive at Def Jam Recordings, and played it for president and CEO of Def Jam, Jay-Z. In February 2005, Rihanna flew up to New York City to audition for Jay-Z and industry executive L.A. Reid, performing Whitney Houston's version of "For the Love of You" and the original songs "Pon de Replay" and "The Last Time". That same day, Rihanna signed a six-album record deal with Def Jam Recordings, and she later moved to New York City to live with Rogers and his wife.
Rihanna performing at the Jingle Ball, 2005
Rihanna spent the next three months collaborating with rapper Memphis Bleek on his fourth studio album 534 and recording her debut album. Her album featured production from Rogers, Sturken, StarGate and Poke & Tone. Her debut single, "Pon de Replay", was released in August 2005. It charted successfully worldwide, peaking in the top five in fifteen countries, including at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and the UK Singles Chart. Her debut album, Music of the Sun, was released later that month. It peaked at number ten on the US Billboard 200 and received a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), denoting shipments of over 500,000 units. The album sold over two million copies worldwide. It received mixed reviews; Rolling Stone gave it two and a half out of five stars and described as lacking replay value, ingenuity, and rhythm. Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses" and described her lead single as "a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé's "Baby Boy". A second single, "If It's Lovin' that You Want", was not as successful as its predecessor, but reached the top ten in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand. Besides music Rihanna made her acting debut in a cameo role in the straight-to-DVD film Bring It On: All or Nothing, released in August 2006.
A month after the release of her debut album, Rihanna began working on her second studio album. Rogers, Sturken, StarGate, J. R. Rotem and label-mate singer-songwriter Ne-Yo worked on the production and writing of the album. A Girl Like Me was released in April 2006. Critical response to the album was mixed; Rolling Stone commented, "Like her filler-packed debut album, this similar but superior follow-up doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single." The album was a commercial success, charting in the top ten in thirteen countries. The album reached number one in Canada and number five in the UK and US, where it sold 115,000 copies its first week. Its lead single, "SOS", was an international success, charting in the top five in eleven countries, including Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The song reached number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 and in Australia, her first to reach this chart position. "Unfaithful", the album's second single, reached the top ten in eighteen countries, including number one in Canada and Switzerland. "We Ride" and "Break It Off", the latter featuring Sean Paul, were also released as singles. Following the release of the album, Rihanna embarked on her first headlining tour, the Rihanna: Live in Concert Tour, also performing alongside Jay-Z and Ne-Yo on the Rock Tha Block Tour. In addition, she joined The Pussycat Dolls on their PCD World Tour.
2007–09: Good Girl Gone Bad and Rated R
For her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna embraced a new musical direction through uptempo dance tracks produced by Timbaland, will.i.am and Sean Garrett. Released in May 2007, the album charted at number two in Australia and the US and topped the charts in multiple countries, including Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Japan, Russia and the UK. The album received the most positive critical reviews of her first three albums. The lead single, "Umbrella", topped the charts in thirteen countries and remained number one in the UK for ten consecutive weeks, the longest-running number one single since Wet Wet Wet's single "Love Is All Around" spent fifteen weeks at the top in 1994. It was Rihanna's first single to be named one of the best-selling singles worldwide, with sales of over 6.6 million copies. The songs "Shut Up and Drive", "Hate That I Love You" featuring Ne-Yo, and "Don't Stop The Music" were also released as singles. In support of the album, she began the Good Girl Gone Bad Tour in September 2007, with 80 shows across the US, Canada, and Europe. Rihanna was nominated for several 2008 Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella" alongside Jay-Z.
Rihanna in Paris, April 2010
Throughout 2008, Rihanna performed on the Glow in the Dark Tour alongside Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and N.E.R.D. Her third studio album's reissue, Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, was released in June 2008 with three new songs: "Disturbia", "Take a Bow", and the Maroon 5 duet "If I Never See Your Face Again". All three were released as singles and charted highly, reaching peak positions worldwide. In August 2008, Rihanna and a host of other female singers, including Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, and Mariah Carey, recorded the charity single "Just Stand Up!", the theme song to the anti-cancer campaign Stand Up to Cancer. "Live Your Life", a duet between T.I. and Rihanna, released that November, peaked in the top ten in thirteen countries worldwide, topping the Billboard Hot 100. A remix album, Good Girl Gone Bad: The Remixes, was released in January 2009. Good Girl Gone Bad has sold over 2.8 million units in the United States alone, receiving a two-times-platinum certification from the RIAA. It is Rihanna's best-selling album in the country to date. The album has sold over seven million copies worldwide. By late 2008, Rihanna remained on the charts with her eighth single, "Rehab" and was named "Diva of the Year" by Entertainment Weekly for her "newfound staying power".
In early 2009, Rihanna began working on her fourth studio album, Rated R. Meanwhile, she collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on "Run This Town", the second single from Jay-Z's eleventh studio album The Blueprint 3. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, and reached the top ten in ten other countries. Rated R was released in November 2009 with Rolling Stone stating that Rihanna "transformed her sound and made one of the best pop records of the year". The album's lead single, "Russian Roulette", was a commercial success, reaching number one in Norway and Switzerland and making the top ten in sixteen other countries. This was followed by the release of "Hard" with Young Jeezy and "Rude Boy". The latter was the biggest worldwide success from the album, topping the US Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and reaching top ten positions in twenty-two other countries. Two other singles were released from the album: "Rockstar 101" with Slash and "Te Amo". Rated R: Remixed was released in the spring of 2010 and featured ten tracks remixed by Chew Fu. To promote the album, Rihanna embarked on her second worldwide tour, the Last Girl on Earth Tour. At the 52nd Grammy Awards, "Run This Town" won Best Rap Song and Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.
2010–11: Loud and Talk That Talk
In summer 2010, Rihanna collaborated with rapper Eminem on "Love the Way You Lie", which was a major worldwide success, reaching number one in over twenty countries. The song was Rihanna's seventh US number one of her career, making her the female artist with the fifth-most number ones in the chart's history. Reaching number two, the song became the biggest-selling song of 2010 in the UK, and the first of Rihanna's singles to sell over one million copies in the country. She also lent her vocals to "All of the Lights", a single from Kanye West's album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, alongside John Legend, The-Dream, Elly Jackson, Alicia Keys, Fergie, Kid Cudi, and Elton John. In October 2010, Rihanna switched managers, joining Jay-Z's Roc Nation Management.
Rihanna in Minneapolis performing on her Loud Tour, June 2011
Loud, Rihanna's fifth studio album, was released the following month. Its lead single, "Only Girl (In the World)", reached number one in fifteen countries, including Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United State. The album's second single, "What's My Name?", featuring Drake, also reached number one in the US and UK, making Rihanna the first female solo artist to have five number one singles on the UK Singles Chart in consecutive years. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 before "Only Girl (In the World)", the first time in the chart's history that an album's lead single reached number one after the second. The third single, "S&M", reached number one on the Hot 100 following the release of its official remix featuring Britney Spears, becoming her tenth number one single, which tied her with Janet Jackson for fourth place among female soloists who have topped the chart. With only four years, eleven months, and two weeks between her first and tenth number one on the chart, Rihanna set a record as the solo artist with the fastest accumulation of ten chart toppers. "Man Down" and "California King Bed" were released as singles in May 2011 with moderate success. "Cheers (Drink to That)", which samples Avril Lavigne's 2002 single "I'm with You", was released as the sixth and final single from the album, reaching the top twenty in the UK and the top ten in the US. In February 2011, "Only Girl (In the World)" won the award for Best Dance Recording at the 53rd Grammy Awards. To promote the album, Rihanna embarked on her Loud Tour in June 2011, which sold out ten nights at the The O2 Arena in London, the most sold out shows for a female artist in the venue's history. The tour was the seventh highest grossing tour worldwide of 2011. The final three shows in London were filmed for Rihanna's second live video album, titled Loud Tour Live at the O2, which was released on December 18, 2012. In October 2011, Nicki Minaj released the collaboration "Fly", featuring Rihanna.
Rihanna's sixth album, Talk That Talk, was released in November 2011. The album debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 with sales of 198,000 copies and number one in the UK, selling 163,000. The lead single, "We Found Love", topped charts in twenty-seven countries worldwide, peaking in the top ten in thirty countries and breaking many records worldwide. It topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten non-consecutive weeks, becoming Rihanna's longest-running number one single and the longest-running number one of 2011. The song was later named the 24th biggest hit of all time on the Billboard Hot 100. "You Da One" and the titular track featuring Jay-Z were released as the second and third singles from the album to moderate success, the former reaching the top twenty in the UK and US. "Where Have You Been", the fifth single, successfully charted worldwide, reaching number five in the US and six in the UK. "Cockiness (Love It)" was released as the album's sixth and final single in a remixed form featuring rapper ASAP Rocky.
2012–13: Acting and Unapologetic
Rihanna at the Australian premiere of Battleship in April 2012
In early 2012, two collaborations featuring Rihanna were released: Coldplay's "Princess of China" from the album Mylo Xyloto and Drake's "Take Care" from his album of the same name. In February 2012, Rihanna won her third Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 2012 Grammy Awards, and was voted the Best International Female Solo Artist at the 2012 BRIT Awards for the second consecutive year. March 2012 saw the simultaneous release of collaborations between Rihanna and Chris Brown: remixes of her song "Birthday Cake" and his "Turn Up the Music". The recordings received mainly negative responses due to the pair's history of domestic violence. In September 2012, "We Found Love" won the MTV Video Music Award for Video of the Year, making Rihanna the first woman to receive the accolade more than once. Rihanna starred as Petty Officer (GM2) Cora Raikes in her first theatrical feature film Battleship, which was released on May 18, 2012. Loosely based on the game of the same name, both the film and Rihanna's performance received mixed-to-negative reviews; The New York Times said she was "just fine in the rather generic role". She received a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress and, on a more positive note, a Teen Choice Award. She appeared in Katy Perry: Part of Me, a 3D documentary-concert film about Katy Perry. On August 19, 2012, Rihanna appeared in the first episode of the second season of Oprah Winfrey's American prime time television show Oprah's Next Chapter. The episode scored the second-highest ratings in the history of the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Rihanna's seventh studio album, Unapologetic, was released in November 2012. In the United States, the album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with sales of 238,000, marking Rihanna's first number one album in the country. In addition, it was the best-selling debut week of her career, besting her fifth studio album Loud (2010). The album was Rihanna's third consecutive number one album in the United Kingdom and fifth in Switzerland. The lead single from the album, "Diamonds", reached number one in more than twenty countries worldwide, including on the US Billboard Hot 100, her twelfth number one on the chart which tied her with Madonna and The Supremes as the artists' with the fourth most number ones on the chart's history. The album's second single, "Stay", featuring Mikky Ekko, reached the top five in over twenty countries, including number three on the Billboard Hot 100. "Pour It Up" was released as the second U.S. single and third overall, reaching number 19 on the Hot 100. An official remix featuring American rappers Young Jeezy, Rick Ross, Juicy J, and T.I. was later distributed. "Right Now" featuring David Guetta serves as the fourth single from the album and peaked at number fifty on the Hot 100. As promotion prior to the album's release, Rihanna embarked on the 777 Tour, a mini tour of seven shows in seven countries in seven days. A documentary DVD of the tour was later released.
In February 2013 at the 55th Grammy Awards, Rihanna won her sixth Grammy Award, in the category Best Short Form Music Video for "We Found Love" (2011). Also that month, the Official Charts Company announced that Rihanna had sold 3,868,000 records in the past year in the UK alone, ranking at number one in the list of 2013 BRIT Awards artist nominees. Rihanna's fifth headlining concert tour, the Diamonds World Tour, began in March 2013 in support of Unapologetic. Rihanna appeared in the Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg comedy film This Is the End, released in June 2013. That same month, American hip hop artist Wale released a remixed version of his single "Bad" featuring Rihanna. In October 2013, Eminem released his Rihanna-assisted single, "The Monster", the fourth release from his eighth studio album The Marshall Mathers LP 2 (2013). With the song entering the UK Singles Chart at number one, Rihanna joined Elvis Presley and The Beatles as just one of three acts to have scored a number one single each year over seven consecutive years in the chart's history. The song also peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, which marked Rihanna's thirteenth chart topper, tying her with Michael Jackson for the third most number ones in the chart's 55 year history. Additionally, Rihanna became the fastest solo artist to achieve 13 number ones, surpassing the previous record held by Mariah Carey (seven-years, eight-months and 19 days), with only The Beatles reaching the tally more quickly.
2014-present: Upcoming eighth studio album
In December 2013, rapper Pitbull revealed during an interview that the featured artist on his song "Timber" was originally supposed to be Rihanna. However, he stated that she was already asked to be the featured artist on the lead single from Shakira's upcoming album and did not have time to record the track. "Can't Remember to Forget You" was released on January 13, 2014. In January 2014, it was announced that Rihanna had started planning her eighth studio album. She is working with producers such as DJ Mustard, David Guetta and Nicky Romero.
Music and voice
"Pon de Replay" (2005)
"Pon de Replay" is infused with a reggae style using a mixture of dance-pop and R&B. Lyrically, the song is about Rihanna asking the DJ to play her favorite song repeatedly.
"Umbrella" is a pop and R&B song with lyrics about a romantic and platonic relationship.
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While recording tracks for her third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna took vocal lessons from Ne-Yo. Speaking of the experience she stated, "I've never had vocal training, so when I'm in the studio, he'll tell me how to breathe and stuff... He'll call out these big fancy words: 'OK, I want you to do staccato.' And I'm like, 'OK, I don't know what that is.'" Her vocal performance on Loud (2010) received positive reviews from music critics. James Skinner from BBC praised Rihanna's vocals on the song "Love the Way You Lie (Part II)" and wrote that her voice is powerful and that "it is Rihanna’s vocal – at once commanding, soulful and vulnerable – that anchors the song, and Loud itself". Andy Gill from The Independent feels that "California King Bed" features her best vocal performance. In a review of Unapologetic, Billboard magazine wrote, "Diamonds" "finds Rihanna doing one of her throatiest, most impassioned vocals to date, on this inspirational pop ballad." Jon Caramanica of The New York Times stated, "over the years, as her game face froze in place, her voice cured into a weapon of emotional chill and strategic indifference. It’s decidedly unfriendly, made to give orders". Volume 65 of the Contemporary Black Biography book series notes that "Rihanna is the rare rhythm and blues diva to emerge from the Caribbean world."
Rihanna performing on her Last Girl on Earth Tour in March 2011
At the time of her debut, she was marketed as a reggae singer because of her Caribbean descent. She began recording songs that were inspired by caribbean music genres such as soca, dancehall, and reggae. She later departed into a broad range of musical genres such as dance-pop, hip hop, dubstep, rock, and house. Some of her songs are also inspired through samples, containing samples from other artists. The combination of dancehall and reggae genres on her debut album, Music of the Sun (2005), was complemented by Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times, who said, "Dancehall reggae sometimes seems like a furiously insular form of music, but ... Rihanna is only the latest singer to discover how versatile the genre's spring-loaded electronic rhythms can be". Her debut album featured production from Stargate and production duo Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers, who discovered her and helped launch her career with her debut single "Pon de Replay". A Girl Like Me (2006) saw Rihanna infuse a bit of rock music on the track "Kisses Don't Lie", a sound she would also use on tracks like "Shut Up and Drive" and "Rockstar 101". The album included pop and R&B. Rihanna worked again with Sturken and Rogers, J.R. Rotem, and label-mate Ne-Yo. The ballads on the album were described as elegant and mature, showing artistic growth.
With Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), she took a different direction from the dancehall influence of her previous efforts with uptempo songs. "[At] this stage I feel like I want to do a lot of uptempo [songs] ... but still be soulful at the same time", she said. She worked with new producers on the album, including Timbaland, Sean Garrett, and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, who produced the international hit "Umbrella", a major breakthrough. Rihanna again entered a new musical and lyrical direction with Rated R, departing from her previous up-tempo and dance-pop style with elements of hip hop, rock, dubstep, and dancehall. Recorded after the assault by her then-boyfriend, Chris Brown, the album had a much darker tone and was filled with various emotions she experienced throughout 2009. She continued to reinvent her music and sound with Loud (2010). She wanted to have more fun with her music and image while experimenting with new material. "With Loud, I got a bit more rebellious and did whatever I wanted to do. I reinvented my image and took creative control", she said. Unlike Rated R, Loud reflects the sassy, fun, flirty, and energetic attitude she had while recording the album. The album is a mixture of ballads, party anthems, and empowering love songs with elements of up-tempo and pop genres, ranging from dance-pop to R&B. Described as "a sexy, sexual record", Talk That Talk (2011) was similar to Rated R, as both contain hip hop, R&B, dancehall, and dubstep genres. Loud and Talk That Talk also saw her return to her dancehall roots, evident in the tracks like "Man Down" and "Watch n' Learn". She also branched out into house music with tracks like "We Found Love", "Only Girl (In the World)" and "Complicated."
Rihanna has named Madonna as her idol and biggest influence. She said she wants to be the "black Madonna". "I think that Madonna was a great inspiration for me, especially on my earlier work. If I had to examine her evolution through time, I think she reinvented her clothing style and music with success every single time. And at the same time remained a real force in entertainment in the whole world." She also cites Whitney Houston as a major influence and idol, and Mariah Carey and Beyoncé as major influences. Of Janet Jackson, Rihanna has commented that "[s]he was one of the first female pop icons that I could relate to." Rihanna has said the late R&B singer Aaliyah has a huge impact on her style and also complimented on the singers artistry as well. Rihanna was inspired to start her career after watching Beyoncé on television with Destiny's Child.
Rihanna commented that Marilyn Monroe and vintage clothing served as visual inspiration for the music video "Hate That I Love You" and "Rehab". The "dark, creepy" scenes of "Disturbia" have been compared to Michael Jackson's Thriller. Other musical influences include Alicia Keys, Fefe Dobson, Celine Dion, Brandy, and Gwen Stefani. Jon 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's music contains strong influences of Caribbean music, including reggae and dancehall. The video for "Rude Boy" was inspired by her Caribbean roots. She stated that while growing up in Barbados she listened to reggae music, and when she came to the United States she was exposed to many different types of music. Rihanna is heavily influenced by the Jamaican singer-songwriter Bob Marley. She stated, "[h]e's one of my favorite artists of all time [...] he really paved the way for every other artist out of the Caribbean". She built a shrine in her home dedicated to Marley. Rihanna has covered Marley's "Is This Love" and Bob Marley & The Wailers' "Redemption Song".
Videos and stage
Rihanna performing at Kollen Music Festival, June 2012
Rihanna has worked with music video director Anthony Mandler on more than a dozen music videos, the first being "Unfaithful" (2006). "We've done 16 videos together; they're not all tough, [...] Yeah, I mean, I'm known for the 'Disturbia's and the 'Russian Roulette's and things like that, but 'Only Girl (In the World)' is certainly an ethereal kind of empowering, beauty-filled video," Mandler said. Jocelyn Vena of MTV wrote, "Rihanna, like Madonna, also has a tendency to make truly thought-provoking music videos that fit the songs they represent. Smattered in between glitzier, more glamorous clips, Madge and Ri want us to think about bigger issues". "Unfaithful", "Love The Way You Lie", "Man Down", and "We Found Love" were shot as short films exploring issues such as love triangles, abuse, and substance abuse romance. Her music video for "Umbrella" shows Rihanna's transition into adulthood and her newly adopted image. Tamar Anitai from MTV Buzzworthy listed "Disturbia" at number five on the "Buzzworthy's Top 5 Most Paranoid Music Videos". He said that "Paranoia never looked so supernaturally sexy!". The video for "Russian Roulette" features Rihanna in a padded room playing a game of russian roulette with her partner. A scene of Rihanna being approached by a speeding car at night was compared to the altercation with Chris Brown. The Caribbean-inspired music video for "Rude Boy" was compared to rapper M.I.A.'s video "Boyz" by many critics for its colorful aesthetic similarities.
In 2011, Rihanna released three controversial music videos about sadomasochism, rape, and domestic violence. The video for "S&M" was banned in eleven countries for its sexual content. "Man Down", which features Rihanna shooting a man in a train station, was criticized by the Parents Television Council. "We Found Love", which shows Rihanna and her love interest in a drug-filled unhealthy relationship, sparked criticism from the Rape Crisis Centre for its inappropriate message. Charne Graham of the Houston Press stated, "Why should Rihanna's music videos get everyone riled up when others' equally sexual and controversial videos are in rotation?" He added, "she just like to make music videos that give us something to talk about". Rihanna is the first woman to pass two billion cumulative views on the music video website VEVO. As of September 2013, she has accumulated over four billion views on the site.
Denis Armstrong of Canadian Online Explorer commented on her performance at the Ottawa Bluesfest, saying "her show was a Disney-esque choreographed fantasy of non-stop hip-swiveling, sassy attitude and personal endearments and a string of funky, sugar-free hits." Her performance of "Disturbia" at the 2008 MTV Video Music Awards was ranked tenth best on the MTV Video Music Awards, according to a Billboard poll. Her revealing leather costumes during her Good Girl Gone Bad Tour were highly criticized by Malaysia's conservative Islamic party, who recommended that her concert tour should be banned. Whilst commenting on her third album's accompanying tour, The Times compared Rihanna's stage wardrobe styling to that of Janet Jackson and called her "a vision of Ann Summers couture in thigh-high boots and a few scraps of black PVC." In the October 2011 issue of British Vogue, Rihanna said her performance outfits and appearances are all an act; "[t]hat’s not me. That’s a part I play. You know, like it’s a piece of art, with all these toys and textures to play with".
In 2009, New York magazine described Rihanna's early look as that of a cookie-cutter teen queen, noting she has the ability to shift looks dramatically and with great ease. Around the time of the release of her second studio album, A Girl Like Me (2006), many critics felt that Rihanna's style, sound, and musical material were too similar to those of Beyoncé. In an interview with Look magazine, Rihanna spoke about comparisons to Beyonce: "Beyoncé is a great artist and I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence, but we're different performers with different styles". In 2007, Rihanna dismissed her innocent image for an edgier look with a new hairstyle, which was inspired by Charlize Theron's bob cut in the science fiction thriller Æon Flux (2005). That same year she was tagged Venus Breeze's "Celebrity Legs of a Goddess" by Gillette.
Known for reinventing her style and image, she has changed her personal appearance several times, scoring different hairstyles since the release of her third album. When putting together her own wardrobe she stated, "It's become more about taking a risk [...] I always look for the most interesting silhouette or something that's a little off." Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote that "Rihanna's wardrobe is the most talked-about, influential and dissected in pop right now" and that whatever she wears "is immediately reproduced on the high street, because it sells". However, her style evolution has been criticized by many critics for it's strong message and revealing outfits. People listed her second on its "10 Best Dressed Stars of 2008" list. Country singer Miranda Lambert admires Rihanna's fashion and style. "I don’t necessarily get inspired by the whole no-bra thing, but I love that you never know what she’s going to wear. It always keeps you guessing, which makes her sassy and interesting." Commenting on the cultural expectation for pop stars to be role models, she said "[being a role model] became more of my job than I wanted it to be. But no, I just want to make music. That's it". In a May 2013 interview with MTV, The Vagina Monologues writer and feminist Eve Ensler praised the singer, saying, "I'm a huge Rihanna fan, I think she has a kind of agency over her sexuality and she's open about her sexuality, she has enormous grace and she's immensely talented."
Despite being recognized for her sex appeal, she revealed being a sex symbol is not a priority and that "it’s definitely flattering, but also uncomfortable." Emily Hewett from Metro wrote, "Rihanna is quite possibly THE most sexiest woman in the world. The 25-year-old songbird can grind like no other, pull off a provocative pose better than a Playboy pro." Her appearance has landed her on the cover of magazines such as Maxim, FHM, Rolling Stone and GQ. She has appeared in the top ten on Maxim's Hot 100 list and on FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World" several times. In 2009, Glamour ranked her at number 17 on the 50 Most Glamorous Women and Esquire named her the Sexiest Woman Alive of 2011. In December 2012, Rihanna became the first woman to be featured on the cover of GQ magazine’s "Men of the Year" issue and ranked fifth on Complex list of "100 Hottest Female Singers of All Time". The following year, VH1 placed Rihanna second on their list of "100 Sexiest Artists".
She has a collection of small tattoos: a music note on her ankle, a Pisces sign behind her right ear, a Sanskrit prayer on her hip, a star in her left ear, the word "Love" on her left middle finger, the phrase "Freedom in Messiah" in Arabic on her ribcage, a trail of stars going down the back of her neck, a skull with a pink hair bow on the back of her foot, the word "Shhh..." on her right index finger, the date 4.11.1986 in roman numerals on top of her left shoulder, a henna-style dragon claw on her hand, a handgun on her ribcage, the motto "never a failure, always a lesson" near her right shoulder, a rebelle fleur on her neck, the words "Thug Life" on her knuckles, a small cross on her collar bone, an Egyptian falcon shaped like a gun on her right foot, and a goddess Isis above her stomach.
See also: List of awards and nominations received by Rihanna
Rihanna's first albums established her as a "Pop/R&B Princess" by music critics; Nick Levine of Digital Spy described her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, as the closest thing to a Thriller that 2007/8 is likely to produce. Her single "Umbrella", famous for its "ella ella" hook, is considered by Rolling Stone to be one of the 500 greatest songs of all time and received critical acclaim. Her 2011 single "We Found Love" was ranked by Billboard as the 24th biggest US Billboard Hot 100 hit of all time. The music video for the song was also received with acclaim, winning the Grammy for Best Short Form Music Video and MTV's Video of the Year. Time Magazine included Rihanna on its 100 Most Influential People in 2012, with fashion designer Stella McCartney writing, "She's one of the coolest, hottest, most talented, most liked, most listened to, most followed, most impressive artists at work today, but she does it in her own stride. She works hard, very hard." The following month, Forbes ranked Rihanna fourth on their Most Powerful Celebrity 100 list, with earnings of $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012. In November 2013, Rihanna was given the "Icon Award" at the 2013 American Music Awards, with the show's producer, Larry Klein commenting: "The first-ever Icon Award was created to honor an artist whose body of work has made a profound influence over pop music on a global level [...] Rihanna’s iconic and innovative sound has enabled her to become one of the most influential and best-selling artists of all time." American television host Bill Maher also referred to Rihanna as "the voice of our generation".
Rihanna performing at Kollen Music Festival 2012
Rihanna has sold over 30 million albums and 120 million singles worldwide, making her one of the best-selling music artists of all time. In the United States, Rihanna has sold over 10 million albums, while Nielsen SoundScan ranked her as the best-selling digital artist in the country, breaking a Guinness World Record for digital single sales of over 58 million as of 2012. She has released six Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified platinum and multi-platinum albums in the United States. Her collaboration with Eminem, "Love the Way You Lie", together with "Umbrella", "Disturbia", "Only Girl (In the World)", "We Found Love", and "Diamonds", are some of the best-selling singles of all time worldwide. The singer has accumulated thirteen number one singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, tying with Michael Jackson for the third most number ones in chart's history. She has been named the top Pop Songs chart artist of the past twenty years by Billboard; she ranks first with most entries (36), most top tens (23), and most number ones (10). In 2012, Rihanna became the third most-played Top 40 artist based on Mediabase of Clear Channel Communications. As of March 2014, Rihanna has sold over 18 million singles and six million albums in the United Kingdom. She is the tenth best-selling and the second best-selling female singles artist in the country, only behind Madonna. In August 2013, Rihanna was named the 15th biggest US Billboard Hot 100 artist of all time, becoming the highest ranking newcomer on the list since the last time Billboard compiled all time artists in 2008. In the same month, Billboard ranked Rihanna the top Hot 100 artist of the 2010s decade.
Rihanna's work has directly influenced a number of contemporary artists such as Little Mix, Selena Gomez, Justin Bieber, Ellie Goulding, Demi Lovato, and Willow Smith. Furthermore, numerous other artists have praised and/or admired Rihanna's artistry, fashion and/or work ethic, including Eminem, Kesha, Rita Ora, Christina Aguilera, Shakira, Mary J. Blige, Cheryl Cole, Toni Braxton, and Chris Martin. Rihanna has an honorary title of Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados. Additionally, Rihanna has become a dominating figure in social media and internet streaming, ranking at number one on Forbes' list of Social Networking Superstars. She is the most popular person on the social network Facebook, has the sixth most followers on Twitter, and is the most-viewed and subscribed recording artist on YouTube. Rihanna is the world's most streamed female artist and most streamed artist of all time on streaming platform Spotify. In 2013, Rihanna was also named the most influential artist in the United Kingdom and the most influential celebrity on the internet.
Rihanna has ventured into other businesses and industries. In October 2005, Rihanna struck an endorsement deal (her first of many) with Secret Body Spray. In 2010 Rihanna featured in the Optus commercial, in conjunction with Optus supporting Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth Tour. The same year Rihanna also featured in the Kodak commercial along with rapper Pitbull. In October 2010, the singer released an eponymous book. The book, featured photos from Rihanna's Last Girl on Earth Tour and served as an accompaniment to her fourth studio album Rated R (2009).
Rihanna's first fragrance, "Reb'l Fleur", was released on January 2011. The product became highly successful, according to Rolling Stone, Reb'l Fleur was a financial success and was expected to gross US$80 million at retail by the end of 2011. In 2011 Nivea celebrated its "100 Years of Skincare" festivities which featured several performances from Rihanna. Rihanna's song "California King Bed" was featured as a part of the "100 Years of Skincare" commercial campaign. Rihanna also became the face of Vita Coco in 2011. Rihanna's second fragrance, "Rebelle", was released in February 2012. The promotional campaign for Rebelle, was shot by director, Anthony Mandler, who also shot the promotional campaign for Reb'l Fleur.
In November 2012, Rihanna released her third fragrance, "Nude". In 2013, the singer collaborated with MAC Cosmetics and released her own summer, fall and holiday lines of makeup called "RiRi hearts MAC". In July 2013, lager production company Budweiser announced that Rihanna had become a part of their global "Made For Music" campaign, also co-starring Jay-Z. A commercial video was released featuring the singer and song "Right Now". Rihanna's fourth women's fragrance, titled "Rogue" was released on September 14, 2013. The singer announces to release a men's version the following year. In December 2013, it was announced Rihanna would become the face of French fashion range Balmain during the spring/summer 2014 collection.
The singer's first fashion range, for Armani, became available in November 2011. Rihanna's 2010 song "Skin" was used in the Armani Jeans and Emporio Armani Underwear adds. Her first television program, Styled to Rock, premiered in the UK in August 2012 on Sky Living. In the ten-week series, Rihanna, Nicola Roberts, Lysa Cooper, and Henry Holland assist up-and-coming British designers with their clothing lines. In February 2013, Rihanna presented her first women's spring fashion collection at London Fashion Week for British street fashion brand River Island, collaborating with her personal stylist Adam Selman. They published two more collections for the brand, a summer edition released on May 25, 2013 and an autumn edition released on September 10, 2013. The fourth and last collection for River Island, the winter edition was released on November 7, 2013. Meanwhile, the US version of Styled to Rock premiered on October 25, 2013 on Bravo. In December 2013, it was announced that Rihanna is set to be the new face of the forthcoming spring/summer 2014 campaign - due to appear in magazines from January - of the French fashion house Balmain.
Rihanna performing "We Found Love" in Birmingham during her Loud Tour
In 2006, she created her Believe Foundation to help terminally ill children. In 2007, Rihanna was named as one of the Cartier Love Charity Bracelet Ambassadors, with each celebrity representing a different global charity. To help raise awareness and combat HIV/AIDS, Rihanna and other public figures designed clothing for the February 2008 H&M Fashion Against AIDS line. In 2008, Rihanna performed a series of charity concerts entitled A Girl's Night Out to benefit the "Believe Foundation". The concerts were made free for the public. Money from sponsors and advertisers were to be donated to provide medical supplies, school supplies and toys to children in need.
In September 2008, Rihanna contributed to the song "Just Stand Up!" with fifteen other female artists, who shared the stage to perform the song live on September 5, 2008, during the "Stand Up to Cancer" television special. The proceeds from the single were given to the fundraiser. The television special helped raise $100 million for cancer research. In 2010, Rihanna covered Redemption Song by Bob Marley, it was released for the Hope For Haiti Now campaign in January 2010.
On February 12, 2012, Rihanna performed a benefit show at the House of Blues in Los Angeles to raise money for the Children's Orthopaedic Center and The Mark Taper-Johnny Mercer Artists Program at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. In November 2012, Rihanna gave $100,000 to food bank donation for Hurricane Sandy, the following month, Rihanna donated $1.75 million to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Bridgetown, Barbados. In November 2013, Rihanna pledged £61,000 to UNICEF, to help the victims of the typhoon in Philippines. On January 3, 2014 Rihanna was part of the MAC Viva Glam campaign, which benefits women, men, and children living with HIV/AIDS.
In 2009 Rihanna claimed she was "effectively bankrupt", due to gross mismanagement from accountancy firm, Berdon LLP. Rihanna was given the go ahead to buy a property priced between $7 and $7.5 million. The property was later sold for a $2 million loss. Her expenses also "doubled", during this time. Rihanna was also losing money from her "Last Girl on Earth tour" but she was never warned of this by the accountants. Forbes magazine began reporting on Rihanna's earnings in 2012, calculating that she earned $53 million between May 2011 and May 2012, for her music, tour and endorsements. In 2013 Rihanna came in at number thirteen on the list with a total earning of $43 million due to endorsements such as vita coco. Rihanna's total net-worth is an estimated $90 million.
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna's scheduled performance at the 51st Grammy Awards was cancelled. Reports surfaced that then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown had beaten her. He was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats. On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats. Due to a leaked photograph from the Los Angeles Police Department obtained by TMZ.com—which revealed that Rihanna had sustained visible injuries—an organization known as STOParazzi proposed "Rihanna's Law," which, if enacted, would "deter employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims." Gil Kaufman of VH1 reported the "nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim—which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases" and discussed the controversial distribution of the leaked photograph. Rihanna was subpoenaed to testify during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles on June 22, 2009. On June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to felony assault. Brown received five years probation and was ordered to stay fifty yards (48 meters) away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to ten yards (nine meters). In February 2011, at the request of Brown's lawyer and with Rihanna's consent, Judge Patricia Schnegg modified with the restraining order to a "level one order," which allows the singers to appear at awards shows together in the future.
From December 2009 to 2010, Rihanna dated Los Angeles Dodgers baseball star Matt Kemp. Canadian rapper Drake has also admitted to dating the singer. In a January 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Rihanna confirmed that she had rekindled her relationship with Chris Brown, though he remained under probation for the 2009 domestic violence incident. The confirmation followed persistent media speculation throughout 2012 regarding the pair's reunion. In a May 2013 interview, Brown stated that he and Rihanna had broken up again. In March 2014, it was reported that Rihanna was again in a relationship with Drake.