Rihanna was a tiny youngster when she first walked in on her father smoking crack. The household struggled with poverty throughout her childhood in Barbados; her residence life was marred by violent arguments and her father’s crippling drug and alcohol addictions. At college although, her teachers recorded that she was certain of herself, clever and “very observant of her setting”. By the point she was 10, Rihanna had develop into a carer to her two youthful brothers whereas her mom labored to assist them. Her dad and mom later divorced.
If humble, troubled beginnings go some approach to clarify the drive of probably the most profitable stars, then Rihanna makes a daring declare to be among the many greatest. At 32, she enters the Sunday Instances Wealthy record as Britain’s wealthiest feminine musician.
Born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, the pop megastar-turned-businesswoman has a fortune estimated at £468m. Eligible for inclusion within the newspaper’s annual record since she moved to London over a 12 months in the past, Rihanna, who enters the musicians’ class at No three after Andrew Lloyd Webber and Paul McCartney, is now richer than Mick Jagger and Elton John, Ed Sheeran and Adele. And, to the consternation of her fans, she hasn’t even launched an album since 2016. She final did a live performance tour the identical 12 months.
Her rise to the highest of Britain’s elite record seems to have even shocked Robert Watts, who compiles it. “She considerably caught us abruptly,” he instructed the BBC. “Only a few individuals knew she was residing within the UK till final summer season; now she’s nicely positioned to be the primary musician to achieve billionaire standing within the UK.”
Rihanna was simply 17 when her first single, Pon De Replay, turned an sudden world smash hit. (Her UK label was paying such little consideration to its Caribbean signing on the time, it didn’t even hassle spelling her identify proper on their first ever run of “Rhianna” CDs).
At 22, she turned the one feminine artist within the historical past of the US Billboard chart to attain 4 No 1 singles in a calendar 12 months. By 24, she had received the report because the biggest-selling digital artist of all time, and at 31, Rihanna turned the primary black lady to run a luxurious trend home. Backed by luxurious model Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey (LVMH), her trend model has been the important thing to constructing her staggering wealth. First, with the industry-disrupting launch of Fenty Beauty in 2017, the primary cosmetics line to cater for as much as 40 skintones, then, with Savage x Fenty, a lingerie line for all sizes.
It’s a great distance from the parish of St Michael, within the south west of Barbados, the place Rihanna was born. Her Guyanese mom was an immigrant and her father got here from mixed-race heritage, black and white. “The Guyanese are just like the Mexicans of Barbados,” she told British Vogue last month. “That’s why I actually relate and empathise with Latino people who find themselves discriminated towards in America.”
Rihanna spent her early teenage years coaching as a military cadet. When she was 14, she fashioned the woman group Distinction along with her associates. That summer season, in 2003, the group auditioned for US music producer Evan Richards, who instantly dumped the opposite women and set about making Rihanna a solo star. A gathering was organized with Jay-Z at Def Jam data – he signed her on the spot.
In 2007, at 19 and with three albums already beneath her belt, Rihanna told the Observer: “They locked me into the workplace – til 3am. Then Jay-Z mentioned: ‘There’s solely two methods out: out the door after you signal this deal or by way of this window.’” Naively, maybe, she was thrilled by the story. “We had been on the 29th flooring,” she mentioned. “[It was] very flattering.” Later, she mentioned she felt stifled by the contract she signed so younger, which noticed her churn out seven hit albums in seven years.
However the launch of 2007’s Good Lady Gone Unhealthy marked a inventive turning level and noticed Rihanna drop her label-mandated picture which she deemed “girlie and boring” to experiment with “totally different, sudden and edgy” seems to be. She moved on from reggae-flavoured dancehall and delivered Umbrella, a monitor that earned her the primary of 9 Grammys and spent 71 weeks within the UK charts, staying at No 1 for 10 of them.
“She’s now obtained sufficient unimaginable singles to fill 5 biggest hits albums, and it’s wonderful she’s by no means launched one,” says Michael Cragg, music journalist and editor of BEAT journal. “She’s obtained one nice album – Anti – however like Madonna, she’s made so many good singles it doesn’t matter.” Her ninth album is allegedly imminent, however then it has been for the final 12 months.
Whereas, professionally, Rihanna is at her peak, she has confronted hardship in her non-public life. A 12 months after going public about her relationship with RnB singer Chris Brown, photographs of her battered face – swollen and bruised – had been leaked to the press. Brown had crushed her after an argument within the automotive residence from an awards ceremony. The couple broke up, however reconciled a number of occasions over the subsequent 4 years.
In a 2009 US television interview with Diane Sawyer, Rihanna mentioned that Brown was her “first huge love”. She had been warned that her reconciliation with him would set a nasty instance for younger women. “I realise that my egocentric choice for love might end in some getting killed,” she mentioned. “Even when Chris by no means hit me once more, who’s to say that [their abusers] received’t kill these women?” In 2013, again once more with Brown, she told Rolling Stone, she didn’t care what individuals thought : “I made a decision it was essential for me to be joyful … I wasn’t going to let anybody’s opinion get in the best way of that.” Months later they broke up once more.
Whereas music has been the spine to her inventive success, her industrial talent goes far past singing songs. Designers together with Tom Ford and Alexander Wang have been fast to heap reward on her, marking out her daring and fixed reinvention. “She’s an amplified model of what plenty of women wish to appear like, however she’s all the time one step forward of the sport,” designer Peter Dundas instructed British Vogue.
Critics largely agree it’s a expertise that applies to her songs, too. The New Yorker, noting that her restricted vocal vary has by no means been the draw, declared in 2016 that her “actual artwork” was “her accessible model of informal, forward-thinking cool”. Put plainly, Rihanna excels at producing influential pop anthems that reverberate from college discos to underground golf equipment.
Rihanna is infamous for enjoying towards pop machine’s guidelines and has cultivated a model – the “Bad Gal Riri” of her Instagram handle – that’s unapologetically sexual. She has her critics: Annie Lennox accused her of peddling “pornographic” music videos, and Mail on Sunday columnist Liz Jones referred to as her “toxic” and “poisonous”.
“Her followers lap it up,” says Cragg. “Rihanna will be messy, get drunk, have spats on Twitter, sit on the shoulders of her bodyguard at Coachella rolling a blunt, and it’s a part of her allure.
“She’s nonetheless obtained an actual edge and you may’t market that or fabricate it in any manner. She genuinely has to have actually nice style to nonetheless be so related at this level in her profession.”
By all accounts, Rihanna is supremely slick at what she does – with little signal that she’s letting up.
“I used to be all the time attempting to determine ‘how can I alter the world? What might I do?’” she instructed the Observer in 2007. “I believe the American manner is a fantasy … Their priorities are fancy automobiles and bling. In Barbados, it’s about having enjoyable.”
— to www.theguardian.com