By Nicholas Allen
Robyn Rihanna Fenty. This name is known by millions, but belongs to only one star. Rihanna was born on February 20, 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados. Riri was discovered in 2005, at age 17 by Evan Rogers, an American producer. Rogers brought her to record and audition her demo tape for Def Jam, Jay Z signed her to a six album deal the same day and the rest is history!
Rihanna is a singer, dancer, actress, humanitarian, businesswoman, CEO, philanthropist… She’s even about to put out a cookbook. Though Rihanna is a very successful woman in any avenue she pursues, she solidified herself as a singer before anything else.
Riri has the record for second most total weeks at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Charts, with 60 weeks. This feat is in comparison to artists emerging decades earlier in the music industry, and the Navy will definitely get her new music to number 1 again. So, let’s take a stroll down memory lane to recall just some of Riri’s best musical moments throughout the years.
Rihanna has released 8 iconic albums and each one has at least 2 smash hits. The journey to dominance all started with her breakout hit single “Pon De Replay” which dropped on May 24, 2005. This song was part of her first album, Music of the Sun. “Pon De Replay” invites everyone to the dancefloor and is a very fun, family friendly song.
The single was followed up by another island-influenced hit “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want.” Personally, I always love the underdog so I naturally gravitated to this song more, it has an amazing vibe to it.
Before Rihanna was the savage she is today, she had the image of “good girl next door.” She dropped a couple singles with this persona such as “SOS”, “Break It Off” feat. Sean Paul and her smash hit “Unfaithful.” It wasn’t much time left until Rihanna completely reinvented herself and dropped just ONE of her staple songs “Umbrella” feat. Jay-Z, the man who signed her.
Though for the love of underdogs, I’d like to highlight “Disturbia”, Rihanna’s experimental halloween-esque song that was completely produced by her because the label didn’t believe in success for this song.
I’m going to spare you the explanation of all of Rihanna’s hits and videos, there are just far too many and would render the point of her stardom redundant. The past two songs solidified her career, so now let’s get into her immense versatility as an artist and creative.
After the horrendous act of domestic violence Rihanna has experienced, she emancipated herself and it was clear to the world that she no longer had limitations. Riri was all over the media when she dropped her most experimental album “Rated R” which was evidently a release for her pent-up emotions toward her life at the time.
One highlight is “Te Amo” which also shows off Rihanna’s versatility, it is a slowed-down song that queer-baites a relationship with Riri and another woman; a bold move in 2009.
Fast forward just one year and Rihanna literally INVENTS red hair… her “Loud” album had hits like “What’s My Name?” feat. Drake, “Cheers (Drink To That)”, “S&M”, “California King Bed” and one of my favoruites in her discography, “Man Down.” This was an era of hitmaking for Riri, and it was possibly the start of all her trendsetting.
Then comes her equally big “Talk That Talk” and “Unapologetic” album eras. I always mix these albums up because they are both filled with hits from the Rihanna we remember best… hits like “Diamonds”, “We Found Love”, “Where Have You Been?”, “Pour It Up”, “Stay”, and “You Da One.” Those are six distinct hits across 2 different albums, over 2 years.
After this, Rihanna took a 4 year break until she dropped what seems like her last album “Anti.” This album was very different from the others she’s released. It’s clear Rihanna had complete control over the album, and it garnered hits like “Work” feat. Drake, “Needed Me”, “Love On The Brain”, and “Kiss It Better.”
The difference between Anti and her other albums is that there aren’t stand-alone singles throughout the album, it is a cohesive piece of work and every song was treated with the same regard of care and attention.
However, I think some of Rihanna’s best songs came while leading up to “Anti”, such as “FourFiveSeconds” with Paul McCartney and Kanye West. This song is so simple and beautiful, it is very underrated and truly shows the kind of non-conforming artist Rihanna is.
These songs and examples are few to the legacy Rihanna has, but hopefully it was enough to re-establish some hype for a new album! Rihanna does not miss when it comes to music and somehow time is making people forget that.
Here’s to Rihanna taking over everything in 2021.