Net Worth: $281 million
Rihanna is a smoky emerald-eyed pop princess, who has captivated the hearts of people all over the world with her hit songs. She is most recognized for her extravagant looks and for her 'bad girl' attitude. The Caribbean star showed a stronger side to herself after her domestic abuse incident with Chris Brown; she came back more confident and with a new found freedom, proving to the world that she is a superstar on her own terms.
Born in the Saint Michael Parish of Barbados, Robyn Rihanna Fenty had an interesting childhood. She was the eldest sibling, growing up with two younger brothers Rorrey and Rajad Fenty. Her father, Roland, is half Irish and half Barbadian and worked as a security guard for a local warehouse when Rihanna was younger. Her mother, Monica, was an accountant with Guinea origins, who cared so much about her children and did anything in her power to raise Rihanna and turn her into the strong individual she is today. Her childhood presented her with some difficult times; her parents got separated when she was 14 because of her father’s drug abuse. He usually arrived home at night in an awful state and took his frustrations out on his family.
Rihanna’s singing passion started when she was only 7-years old, with her being highly inspired by the likes of Alicia Keys and Beyoncé. She enrolled at the Charles F. Broome Memorial School and later went on to the Combermere School where she formed a band with two of her colleagues. During her adolescence years, Robyn was lucky enough to be trained by singer Shontelle when she joined a local military program that organized trainings alongside the soldiers of Barbados.
It was 2003 when Rihanna found her first lucky break. Her college band were presented to American producer Evan Rogers, who was on vacation in Barbados. Rogers knew he had found a star as soon as he saw her; ‘when Rihanna entered the room, the other girls didn’t even count’.
When she was 17-years old, Robyn changed took on the ‘promised land’ and moved to the United States of America to conquer her music career. She moved there with her mother, and with the help of Carl Sturken, she recorded her first demo album which took the name of Whitney Huston’s hit record ‘For The Love Of You’. It took about a year for the album to be complete since Rihanna had to attend high-school and could only work during the holidays.
In 2004, the demo disc ended up in the hands of Jay-Z, the producer of ‘Def Jam Record Company’. In less than 8 hours he signed her up and was dedicated to turning Rihanna into the next pop princess. With the help of many talented people from Def Jam, Rihanna recorded her first debut album. The production lasted for three months and during that time she received unique compositions from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate and Trackmasters. Her single ‘Pon de Replay’ was launched on the August 22 2005, and shortly after it reached number one in the U.S charts. The single came from her first studio album ‘Music of The Sun’ which reached the top 10 in the Billboard charts and later received the Golden Disc, selling 500,000 samples in the U.S. and 2.5 million copies worldwide.
It was clear Rihanna’s music had Caribbean origins, with it soon being added to the Reggae and Soca categories. The album ‘Music of the Sun’ was highly criticized by Rolling Stone magazine, stating that “it lacked ingenuity”, but altogether it was a record that contained R&B-music combined with Rihanna’s Caribbean charm. Reviewer Sal Cinquemani noticed the similarities of Rihanna’s dance and R&B rhythm with Beyoncé Knowles’ hit single ‘Baby Boy’.
Her next single ‘If It’s Lovin’ that You Want’ didn’t have as much success as its predecessor. It only reached number 36 in the U.S. charts and an honorable 11th place in the UK singles charts. The surprise came from Australia, Ireland and New Zealand where the hit was highly praised and reached the highest position in the charts. Her third hit from the album, titled ‘Let Me’ was launched in Japan only where it reached 8th position in the chart.
One month after ‘Music of the Sun’ was released, Rihanna started recording her second album. This time, the pop princess was ready to embrace the vast music career she aspired for. A lot of people helped her with the album, including Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate, J.R. Rotem and Ne-Yo. As the recordings for the second album took place, Rihanna began to perform more around the world, being the supporting act for Gwen Stefani on her promotion tour for her first solo album ‘Love. Angel. Music. Baby.’ At the beginning of 2007, a new hit single was pulled out of Rihanna’s second album – ‘SOS’ promptly reached first place of the Billboard Hot 100.
Her second album ‘A Girl Like Me’ was launched in April 2006, just eight months after her debut. The record earned the fifth position in the Billboard 200 and commercialized in over 115,000 copies in the first week. The album was praised internationally and reached the top ten in several different charts. It received a Platinum Disc edition when it reached 1 million copies being sold. Rolling Stone magazine noticed that Rihanna had evolved loads since her first album and critics appreciated the fusion of her dance, hip-hop and R&B music styles, as well as her ballads being acclaimed for their maturity.
The second promoted song from ‘A Girl Like Me’ was ‘Unfaithful’, which became an international hit and held the top position in every chart including Canada, France and Switzerland. The third single ‘We Ride’ didn’t enjoy the same outcomes as ‘Unfaithful’. She also had a forth promoted song called ‘Break it Off’, collaborating with Sean Paul, with it becoming a chart-topping hit in North America and some parts of Europe.
After the album ‘A Girl like Me’ was launched, Rihanna went on the ‘Rock Tha Block’ tour in the U.K., together with The Pussycat Dolls, from November 2006 to February 2007. Rihanna’s career was certainly taking off and she’d implemented a whole new attitude. On June 2007, her third album came out entitled ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ with the likes of Ne-Yo, Jay-Z and Maroon 5 working on it. Her previous ‘nice girl’ image turned into a sensual and a provocative woman, with her verses reflecting her new style. With the help of Carl Sturken, Even Rogers, The Stargate Team and Christopher Stewart she managed to add more ‘dance-themed’ songs into the album to showcase her change in style. The album reached number one in charts across the U.K., Canada, Japan, Brazil, Russia and Ireland, and second place in the United States and Australia.
This time, the album had positive reviews and it was appreciated that she changed her music style from dancehall-reggae to dance. The artist promoted eight tracks from the album and all of them took on a great position in the Billboard Hot 100. Among those tracks was the hit song ‘Umbrella’, a work of art created in collaboration with Jay-Z. This song alone kept the first position in the UK Singles Chart for ten weeks in a row, being one of the longest hits in the history of the chart to remain at number one. ‘Umbrella’ was included in the greatest songs of 2007 by Rolling Stones magazine and proudly holding third position. The other promoted tracks were ‘Shut Up And Drive’, ‘Don’t Stop the Music’, and ‘Hate That I Love You’, songs that helped ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ achieve ‘Best Music Album’ for consecutive weeks.
In June 2008, a luxury version of the album, ‘Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded’, hit the stores with three new promoted songs: ‘Take a Bow’ became an international hit, ‘If I Never See Your Face Again’ a duet with Maroon 5, and ‘Disturbia’, a hit song that reached number one in the United States. Whilst those songs rose to the top, Rihanna was recording ‘Live Your Life’, a duet involving famous rapper T.I., that went on to have great success in North America, making it the fifth hit song to reach number one in the Billboard Hot 100 after ‘SOS’, ‘Umbrella’, ‘Take a Bow’ and ‘Disturbia’. Together with Beyoncé, Rihanna holds the record for most songs to reach the top in the Billboard Charts. ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’ was commercialized in over two million copies in the U.S. and received two platinum discs, making it the best selling album of the pop star ever. The artist received 4 nominations at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2007, winning ‘Best Monster Of The Year’ and ‘Video Of The Year’. Later on, Rihanna got her first Grammy for ‘Best Rap Collaboration’. In order to promote her album, Rihanna started her first major international tour called ‘The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour’ on September 12 2007. At the American Music Awards Rihanna took home two awards, ‘Best Pop/Rock Singer’ and ‘Best Soul/R&B Singer’.
Next was the hit song ‘Run This Town’ in collaboration with Jay-Z and Kanye West. They worked on it in spring 2009 and the song managed to hit the number one spot the UK Singles Chart. This was followed by her forth album ‘Rated R’, which she worked on throughout 2009, collaborating with Akon, Ne-Yo, Justin Timberlake and Slash. The record was launched internationally on November 23 2009, and she began promoting her new song ‘Russian Roulette’, shortly followed by ‘Hard’, which kicked off her global tour.
In 2010 Rihanna met famous rapper Eminem and recorded the hit single ‘Love the Way You Lie’, an artistic composition that held the first place of Billboard Hot 100 for quite some time. It was the most aired song on every major radio station in Europe, Australia, Canada, Ireland and New Zeeland. Following the success, Rihanna received a wax statue in the famous Madame Tussaud’s museum in Washington, D.C. She also went on to launch her first book and was cast in the sci-fi movie Battleship.
On October 20 2010 the artist ended her contract with manager Marc Jordan and signed a management deal with Jay-Z’s record studio ‘Roc Nation’. Her fifth album entitled ‘Loud’ was released on November 16 2010 including different music genres such as R&B, pop and dance-pop and she focused more on love and sexuality in her lyrics. Her best songs from her fifth album were ‘Only Girl’ and ‘What’s My Name? (feat Drake)’. In November 2011, Rihanna launched her sixth album ‘Talk That Talk’ that reached third place in the Billboard 200. The following year, in November 2012, she created her seventh album ‘Unapologetic’ and again reached the number one spot in the Billboard 200. In January 2016, Rihanna launched her eighth album ‘Anti’, that started out at number 27 in the Billboard 200, but reached the top spot in no time.
Rihanna is constantly in the media, being known best for reinventing her style. In 2009, she received praise from New York magazine who claimed her fashion sense was that of a ‘cookie-cutter teen queen’ and noted her ability to be able to pull off any look. Her second album ‘Girl Like Me’ was criticized for being too similar in sound and style to Beyoncé’s, but RiRi took this in a positive light saying she was honored to be compared to the iconic singer.
Rihanna’s image turned a lot edgier in 2007 with the release of ‘Good Girl Gone Bad’. She cut her hair extremely short and dyed it black to get rid of the previously innocent and girly image she’d been known for. Highsnobiety magazine claimed, ‘over the course of her [career], [Rihanna] has underage one of the most significant aesthetic metamorphoses the world has ever seen’. Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing has put Rihanna up there with some of the biggest fashion icons to come out of the music history, such as David Bowie and Michael Jackson.
Just when things couldn’t have been better for Rihanna, her life went downhill in 2009 after her then-boyfriend Chris Brown was accused in the press of domestic abuse. At first no one knew who the unlucky lady was, but when Rihanna canceled her performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards everything was perfectly clear. Pictures of Rihanna looking with a black eye and bruises on her face flooded the internet, with everyone sharing in Rihanna’s pain. Major companies that collaborated with Chris Brown annulled their contracts with him, and the police investigated the artist for his dirty deeds. After the trial, Chris got six months of community work and was forbidden to get near the Caribbean superstar ever again.
In the years soon after the Chris Brown scandal, Rihanna dated baseball player Matt Kemp, as well as rapper Drake. However, a few years later in 2013, the singer rekindled her troubled relationship with Chris Brown. The pair’s reunion didn’t last too long with the couple breaking up again a few months later. Her next romantic link came in 2015, with her dating rapper Travis Scott.
Rihanna puts her successful career down to her strong faith – the star has often spoken about her faith in God and firmly believes this has helped her throughout her rise to fame.
In July 2016, Rihanna – along with other high profile celebrities such as Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson – took part in the ’23 Ways You Could Be Killed If You Are Black In America’ video in a protest against racism and discrimination against black people in America.
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