Back in 2005, Barbadian chanteuse Rihanna was a hot up-and-comer with a couple of great pop hits that permeated the airwaves during that summer, namely “Pon de Replay” and “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want.”
That’s pretty much everything you could hope to have in a summer pop song with accompanying music video: sun, fun, scantily clad brown-skinned beauties all having a whale of a time in the Caribbean sunset. Best of all was Rihanna’s voice…we’re not talking about a three-and-a-half octave range, nor any Mariah Carey/Whitney Houston vocal histrionics, she didn’t yodel while she sang…it was smooth and sensual. The way she sang made it sound like she had just come to the studio after having some hot and dirty sex. In the Caribbean sunset. With scantily clad brown-skinned beauties. Which gives me a serious boner.
Doesn’t hurt either that the girl was a serious looker right around this time. She was totally rocking the whole “nice girl from two straw huts down” look which was something of an untapped market at the time. Bedroom eyes, some serious DSL’s, and gorgeous red or reddish hair (which I LOVE on a woman, fuck all the Ginger jokes). I don’t know if the carpet matched the drapes or not (if there even was a carpet), but who gives a shit? You can have Kokomo, I’m down with the Barbadian brown.
“RiRi” (the music press’s nickname for her, not mine, although I’ll be happy to exploit it to the hilt) would keep the day-glo beach ball bouncing on up through the following year’s “A Girl Like Me” album, spawning the mega-hit “S.O.S.” Make all the shipwreck jokes you want, although for the life of me, I can’t think of any.
A little less sun and fun this time and more uptempo urban which I think you have Mr. Sean Carter aka Jay-Z to thank for that.
Cue sound of bacon hitting the frying pan. Look, R&B hoochies these days and even in ’06 were a dime a freaking dozen and Rihanna probably could have avoided going down that route. Do we really need to take our exotic island girl off of the beach that we all fell in love with last year and set her on a corner in West Philly in fishnet stockings and a push-up bra going, “But Daddy I can saaaang!!! I can rilly saaaaaang! I suck yo dick if I can just saaaaang!!!”
Thankfully, ol Trouty Mouth’s influence would only serve as a bit of a minor musical makeover, the good girl next door look was still left intact and she was still hot as hell.
Funny story: I was working at a Best Buy right around when this album came out and no joke there were quite a few times when teenage and pre-teenage boys would be perusing the CD aisles presumably looking for something to shoplift. I’d find them over in the “R” section all glossy-eyed over whatever it was they were looking at. I went over to them and was all, “Hey can I help you find anything?” Their faces got bright red, did a nervous giggle, said “Heh, nah we’re good,” hurriedly put the Rihanna CD back on the display rack and got the fuck out of Dodge. Maybe they were attempting a five finger discount. Maybe they were attempting a five knuckle shuffle on Rihanna’s face. Maybe I should have called CSI and had them do a blacklight test.
Rihanna continued her meteoric rise in the pop world the following year with an album that confirmed our worst fears and simultaneously our greatest desires: 2007’s Good Girl Gone Bad.
Hold. The Fuck. Up. Where’d the hair go? No, not the wig she has on in that album cover – where the fuck did that auburn mane go? Now what am I going to have to hold on to while I ride ride ride the wild surf? Goddammit Jay-Z, you ruin everything. Especially chycks.
Seriously, are you trying to market her as Beyonce II: The Next Generation or something? Lil Beyonce? Beyonce Jr?
Although the metaphorical pan was sizzling pretty well at this point, Rihanna did prove that her natural good looks and easygoing demeanor could shine through a silly haircut and trendy wardrobe.
Nice. But what the hell is an “umbrella-ella-ella-ella-eh-eh-eh-eh?” How did something that’s normally used to keep oneself dry from rain merit something like 80 syllables? What happens if I spell this out in Scrabble? Do I win – for eternity? And why an umbrella anyway? Tropical storms that bad out at Jay-Z or Timbaland’s pad? I know – it’s to ward off the sparks raining down around Jay-Z.
She spent the following year solidifying her new role as a mediocre pop artist by making guest appearances on albums for other artists such as Maroon 5 and T.I. (It’s okay if you don’t know who they are.) It was also around this time that she began to date the Ike Turner of the new millenium, Chris Brown.
Ain’t they just the cutest couple? Y’know I think those kids will do all right and be together for a long long time. I typed that while my fingers were crossed.
Since I never rub another man’s rhubarb, I pretty much took a hands-off stance with RiRi since these two started canoodling. After all, what was really left of Rihanna to really want? She wasn’t a beach babe anymore, her patois was pretty much done away with (hey accents are sexy), she dressed like a Solid Gold dancer, and as it turned out Rihanna was in fact the one down with the Brown. I can’t say she was really burnt bacon at this point…she was just on someone else’s huevos at the time.
Then, at the end of someone’s fist.
Fast forward to 2009. How do you like your bacon? Extra crispy?
Turns out that People Magazine’s 2009 Luckiest Sonuvabitch Alive, Chris Brown, has a bit of a mean streak in him. Rihanna was scheduled to perform at the Grammy Awards that year but her spot on the show was mysteriously bumped. Turns out Chris Brown got himself arrested after an altercation with Rihanna on suspicion of making criminal threats. If you’ve seen the notoriously leaked photos from TMZ, you have pretty solid evidence that there’s nothing “suspicious” about it. Unless the poor girl fell out of the ugly tree and hit every motherfucking branch on the way down…and then took a snazzy photo of herself on her cell phone. Hey, stranger things have happened and some folks will do anything to get their 15 minutes. Including guest-writing a column on someone else’s blog.
Brown pleaded guilty to the domestic violence charge and get this: for admitting to beating up a ridiculously hot piece of woman, the man has to serve five years of PROBATION and is ordered to stay fifty yards away from Rihanna. Oh poor ba-beee. Maybe after slapping his wrist a few times, the judge should have told Chris “I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again” and then slapped his wrist a little harder.
Rihanna got a lot of sympathy votes out of the whole ordeal but whatever sense she may have had seemed to have been slapped out of her. For one, in spite of everything…she sticks with him. SHE STICKS WITH HIM. SHE DOESN’T KICK HIS ASS IMMEDIATELY TO THE CURB. What the fuck?! Jay-Z, that noted philanthropist, even suggested that she give Chris another chance. What the hell kind of world do we live in?!
Do you guys smell that? Did somebody leave something on the stove?
Rihanna then does what most tormented artists do in times of turmoil and that’s channel their grief, rage, shock, shame, and all around bad feelings into her music. She puts out a record called “Rated R” which is chock full of angry tunes about overcoming adversity and such. Good for her. Step in the right direction, I think. It’s nearly enough to make us all forget about the abuse incident and start dancing again.
Then comes some recent behavior which is downright strange given her situation.
First, the “leaked” nude photos. It should be every fan’s dream, right? Especially given with what was written earlier about her being a bodacious Barbadian beauty with ungodly shagadelic powers? Nude photos of the artist begin to surface online as these things generally tend to do and miss Polly Pureheart herself, Rihanna, begins making claims of invasion of privacy. Ex-squeeze me what? Invasion of privacy? Then why the fuck would you take nude pictures of yourself given your celebrity status if you didn’t think they’d turn up anywhere? You want some privacy, here’s a tip: PUT THE CAMERA PHONE DOWN. Go rent a movie or something if you want some extra spice in your life. Hell, I’ll recommend a couple of good free sites if you swing that way, RiRi. But don’t cry to me that your privacy is being invaded if you get cheap thrills by taking cheap nudie pics. Photos of you AT YOUR WORST leaked online and there was no privacy discussion. Either take your ass to On The Ply Photography for printwork like the rest of us or star in a porno.
Finally, Rihanna made it publically known that she is “into S&M.” Are you freaking kidding me? I’m not in any way, shape or form making any sort of statement on “asking for it.” But if you’re going to openly admit that you’re into sado-masochism, bondage and/or discipline, being tied up and shit, whips and chains and all that fun stuff, aren’t you kind of…um..asking for it? Demanding it, probably is better put. A good girl gone bad gone freak who months ago scored major sympathy points with all of us for enduring a horrific attack by her significant other is now telling us that she “kinda likes to get roughed up a bit.”
You know what I’m into? A bit of hypocrisy with a side order of double-standard.
I’m sure it’s not her fault though – someone probably hacked her Twitter account and MADE her say it.
So is Rihanna really to blame in all of this? She sure seems a like a victim throughout this whole sordid saga. Was it her choice to leave the island rhythms behind and pursue R&B top 40 pop glory and is that so wrong? Maybe not wrong but not a creative choice that results in a lot of awesomesauce. Was it her choice to completely makeover her entire image so that we no longer desire the good girl next door but cringe at the sparkly pop sheen of the bad girl who wields a mean umbrella-ella-ella-eh? She certainly did not choose to get beat up by her boyfriend but she did choose not to boot him to the curb when she had the chance. She may not have chosen to post questionable photos to the web but she certainly could have exercised some good judgment when it comes to taking said photos in the first place. And I’m truly sorry, but the choice is 100% hers as far as how she wants to maintain her sexual image which really shouldn’t be anybody’s goddamn business in any event. Yeah, I perv out as much as the next guy but you don’t see me Tweeting to the masses on how much I like to jack it to Cum Munchers 9 or something. (You really have to see the whole series to truly understand…)
Rihanna, babe. Darling. Sweetheart. Love of my life. You could be awesome again. You show various symptoms of wanting to be buttery and rich and slathered all over a warm and toasty baked good. You went back to the red hair–er, wig, and you even did a duet with Eminem. Both pimp moves to be sure. I just don’t know that it’s enough. Go back to the island. Record a reggae album or something. Publicly refer to Jay-Z as a “bloodclot.” Leave the R&B shit for less talented skanks.
Until then, I’m throwing this pan away cause you are stinking up the house. That smell don’t mean you “da shit.” It mean you burnt bloodclot bacon.