Rihanna’s impact extends far beyond her music. In Lisa Robertson’s cover story for the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair, this icon divulges her attitudes about love, fame and music. Born in 1988 in Bridgetown, Barbados, to a large family, Rihanna always loved music and singing. At the age of 16, she was discovered by music producers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken, who worked with her to produce demos and eventually brought her to the United States, where she signed a record deal with Def Jam. Since then, her musical career has blossomed. Just like these 5 Bands With Killer Leading Ladies on Vocals, she is one of the most beloved artists of our time. Her success, although facilitated by this lucky break, is almost entirely her own doing. Although the media portrays her as a bad girl, Rihanna says most of her late nights are spent in the studio, not at the club.
She devotes her passion to her music, and it shows— especially since she has so much passion. Her musical style is dynamic, ever changing; she does not settle into one sound just because that sound sells records. Her music ranges from upbeat pop to reggae-inspired dance to soulful R&B, so much so that she is beyond categorization. Lisa Robertson puts it perfectly when she says, “If Rihanna has a ‘thing’ it’s that her thing changes so much.” In the cover story, she discusses her frustration with the way society puts people into neat packages. For example, she says that many people see her as only a black woman. Interestingly, this has not held her back artistically— the way she sees it, many people are used to black women being entertainers. Where she has encountered trouble, however, is on the business side of the industry. Instead of discouraging her, this challenge excites her; she finds proving people’s assumptions wrong exhilarating.
Rihanna views herself this way, on a broader scale than just music. She is unlike many stars who make brands for themselves, almost imaginary characters who they pretend to be. The article explains that, “she doesn’t have to manufacture dimensionality, because she actually is soulful, and this comes across in every little thing she does.” Rihanna is famous for her musical talent, but the fame that it has brought her focuses on much more than just singing and songwriting. She finds it strange that just because she sings, people expect her to be a role model and have every part of her life figured out. Although she says that the spotlight makes her uncomfortable, (and that she dreams of what the rest of us think are mundane errands, like grocery shopping,) it doesn’t seem to stop her from thriving. Fans catch on to her genuine personality and adore her for it. Her style is as unique as she is, and she personally manages all of her social media, to stay true to her supporters.
She faces an incredible amount of scrutiny, which makes the balance between vulnerability and privacy especially important. She finds it difficult to date people, because even if they are just seeing each other casually, media and the public eye puts pressure on them, and these outside forces change the internal dynamics of the relationship. She is also cautious, because although she loves to love deeply, she has been hurt before and doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. At the moment, she isn’t looking for love. She is focusing all her time and energy on her music, especially with her new album, ANTI, due to come out soon. She feels that she can’t give all of herself to another person currently, so she wouldn’t want or expect someone else to give all of himself to her. At the moment she focuses on her close friends, family and doing the things she loves doing.
*Although Rihanna’s relationship with Chris Brown was one of the main points in the Vanity Fair cover story, she expressed that this event does not define her, and it can be difficult to be seen as the face of domestic violence. To support these sentiments, this article does not cover that section of the cover story.