A lot has occurred since Rihanna, some of the well-known singers on the earth, final launched an album. Two presidencies, a world pandemic, the invention of TikTok and 5 new Taylor Swift albums all postdate 2016’s Anti, the Barbadian singer’s final full-length challenge earlier than a seemingly everlasting hiatus from music.
Rihanna’s return to the stage throughout Sunday’s Tremendous Bowl half-time present – her first stay efficiency since pitching in to assist DJ Khaled on Wild Ideas on the 2018 Grammys – doesn’t assure new music. Even the singer has joked that R9 (the colloquial identify for her subsequent, ninth LP) could also be misplaced to time. But it surely does herald a megawatt return to the music highlight for one in all pop’s most dependable hit-makers, who has for almost seven years devoted her vitality elsewhere.
Because the launch of Anti, a moody, meandering album now thought-about a contemporary pop basic, Rihanna has been busy: changing into a billionaire, taking up the Met gala, filming a documentary that has additionally been on years-long delay (and waiting for her approval, in accordance with director Peter Berg). She launched Fenty Magnificence, her cosmetics line, and Savage x Fenty, her lingerie model, whose annual various, body-positive trend present has basically consigned Victoria’s Secret’s model to the dustbin. In 2020, she grew to become the first Black woman to head a luxury fashion house, Fenty Maison, for conglomerate LVMH, the corporate behind Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Celine and others. In Might final 12 months, she had her first baby, a son, along with her boyfriend, the rapper A$AP Rocky.
Her loyal fandom, the Rihanna Navy, has by now turned “the place’s the album?” right into a meme, one wherein the singer herself has joined. “Rihanna, you are taking on a regular basis you need on that album, lady. Don’t let these fools on the web stress you into nothing!” said Jerrod Carmichael whereas internet hosting final month’s Golden Globes, which Rihanna attended after being nominated for one in all two songs she has launched since 2016: the ballads Raise Me Up and Born Once more for the Black Panther: Wakanda Perpetually soundtrack.
The longer Rihanna has been away, the larger the anticipation for her return. The permutations for her set checklist are infinite – it’s simple to overlook now, however earlier than Rihanna was well-known for probably the most laidback strategy to music in pop, she exemplified its relentless grind. She launched seven albums in eight years between 2005 and 2012, broke the document for quickest feminine artist to succeed in 10 No 1 singles in 2011, and has logged 63 songs on the charts. She has the fourth-most No 1 songs in history with 14, trailing solely Elvis, Mariah Carey and the Beatles. You would construct a half-time present out of her output from 2009 to 2011 – Rated R, Loud and Discuss That Discuss – alone.
The high-profile efficiency additionally marks an about-face for the musician, who was amongst a number of high-profile artists to say no the once-coveted gig in 2018 and 2019, in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter protests, and who told Vogue in 2019 that she “simply couldn’t be a sell-out”.
“I couldn’t be an enabler,” she stated. “There’s issues inside that group that I don’t agree with in any respect, and I used to be not about to go and be of service to them in any method.”
The identical 12 months, Jay Z’s Roc Nation, which has managed Rihanna since 2010 (Jay Z helped signal her as a 16-year-old to Def Jam data), signed a partnership with the NFL to advise on “culture- and cause-focused initiatives” and produce the Tremendous Bowl half-time present, the most-viewed stay tv broadcast of every 12 months. The alliance has been controversial from the beginning, however is has courted extra Black performers to the NFL’s most distinguished area; the acclaimed 2022 present featured Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J Blige.
Rihanna hasn’t spoken on to what modified her thoughts on the rules; requested by Extra why now was the proper time to say sure to the job, she stated it was “now or by no means” and credited the beginning of her son. “There’s this bizarre shit that occurs if you change into a mum, you unleash or unlock different elements of your superpower,” she stated. “You’re feeling like you possibly can tackle or do something. I needed to tackle the problem. I needed to do one thing that will power me to get again on stage.”
In an Apple Music press convention held on Thursday, she additionally attributed her resolution to the significance of illustration for Black individuals, Caribbean tradition and her dwelling nation of Barbados. “It’s essential for me to do that this 12 months,” she stated. “It’s essential for illustration. I would like my son to see that.”
Little has been teased of the efficiency itself. A trailer produced by Apple Music (titled, in fact, “Rihanna is Again”) largely references the hype round her absence and her much-envied fashion – voices shouting about how lengthy it’s been, sounding like a Twitter refrain, because the singer dons a neon inexperienced cape trying sometimes unbothered and flamboyant. The official press convention offered few extra particulars, although Rihanna acknowledged that whittling down 17 years of music right into a 13-minute set checklist was “the largest problem” and took 39 variations to good. As for that set checklist, the choreography, potential visitors, costumes and perhaps promotional tie-ins to one thing new? We’ll have to attend and see.