Photo: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/) by avrilllllla (https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/)
Born: February 20, 1988
Age: 32 years
Born Place: Saint Michael, Barbados
Net Worth: S$600 million (2019 estimate)
- hip hop
Robyn Rihanna Fenty (born February 20, 1988) is a Barbadian singer, songwriter, actress, businesswoman and philanthropist. Born in Saint Michael and raised in Bridgetown, Barbados, Rihanna moved to the United States in 2005 when she signed with Def Jam. She gained recognition following the release of her first two studio albums, Music of the Sun (2005) and A Girl like Me (2006), both of which were influenced by Caribbean music and peaked within the top ten of the US Billboard 200 chart.
Rihanna’s third album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), incorporated elements of dance-pop, catapulted her to stardom, and established her status as a sex symbol in the music industry. Its international chart-topping single “Umbrella” earned Rihanna her first Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. Rihanna continued to mix pop, dance, and R&B genres on her next four albums, Rated R (2009), Loud (2010), Talk That Talk (2011), and the Grammy Award-winning Unapologetic (2012). All four releases combined various other musical styles and consolidated Rihanna’s commercial success, with Unapologetic being her first number-one album in the US. The records spawned a string of chart-topping singles, including “Rude Boy”, “Only Girl (In the World)”, “What’s My Name?”, “S&M”, “We Found Love”, “Diamonds”, and “Stay”. Her eighth album, Anti (2016), showcased a new creative control following her departure from Def Jam. It became her second US number-one album and featured the chart-topping single “Work”. Rihanna has released collaborative hit singles with artists such as Drake, Eminem, and Calvin Harris.
Having sold over 250 million records, Rihanna is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. She has 14 number-ones and 31 top-ten singles in the US and 30 top-ten entries in the UK. Her accolades include nine Grammy Awards, 13 American Music Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, and six Guinness World Records. Forbes ranked her among the top ten highest-paid celebrities in 2012 and 2014; as of 2019, she is the wealthiest female musician, with an estimated net worth of $600 million. Time named her as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012 and 2018. Aside from music, Rihanna is known for her involvement in humanitarian causes, entrepreneurial ventures, and the fashion industry. She is the founder of the nonprofit organization Clara Lionel Foundation, cosmetics brand Fenty Beauty, and fashion house Fenty under LVMH. She was appointed as an ambassador of education, tourism, and investment by the Government of Barbados in 2018.
Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988 in Saint Michael, Barbados, the daughter of accountant Monica (née Braithwaite) and warehouse supervisor Ronald Fenty. Rihanna has two brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty, and two half-sisters and a half-brother from her father’s side, each born to different mothers from his previous relationships. She grew up in a three-bedroom bungalow in Bridgetown and sold clothes with her father in a stall on the street. Her childhood was deeply affected by her father’s alcoholism and crack cocaine addiction, which contributed to her parents’ strained marriage. Rihanna’s father used to physically abuse her mother and she would try to get in between them to break up fights.
As a child, Rihanna had many CT scans for the excruciating headaches she suffered, recalling, “The doctors even thought it was a tumor, because it was that intense.” By the time she was 14, her parents had divorced and her health began to improve. She grew up listening to reggae music. She attended Charles F. Broome Memorial Primary School and Combermere School, where she studied alongside future international cricketers Chris Jordan and Carlos Brathwaite. Rihanna was an army cadet in a sub-military programme, where the later Barbadian singer-songwriter Shontelle was her drill sergeant. Although she initially wanted to graduate from high school, she chose to pursue a musical career instead.
In 2003, Rihanna formed a musical trio with two of her classmates. She was discovered in her home country of Barbados by American record producer Evan Rogers. Without a name or any material, the girl group managed to land an audition with Rogers who commented, “The minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn’t exist.” Rihanna went to Rogers’s hotel room, where she performed renditions of Destiny’s Child’s “Emotion” and Mariah Carey’s “Hero”. Impressed, Rogers scheduled a second meeting with Rihanna’s mother present and then invited Rihanna to his hometown in the United States to record some demo tapes that could be sent to record labels. Recordings were intermittent, taking about a year, because she was only able to record during school holidays. “Pon de Replay” and “The Last Time” were two tracks recorded for the demo tape, which were eventually included on her debut album Music of the Sun. That same year, Rihanna was signed to Rogers’s and Carl Sturken’s production company, Syndicated Rhythm Productions.
Known for her style and image, the evolution of Rihanna’s music and fashion sense have been constantly followed by the media. In 2009, New York magazine described Rihanna’s early look as that of “a cookie-cutter teen queen”, noting she has the ability “to shift looks dramatically and with such ease”. Around the time of the release of her second studio album, A Girl like Me (2006), many critics felt that Rihanna’s style, sound and musical material were too similar to those of Beyoncé. In an interview with Look magazine, Rihanna spoke about comparisons to Beyoncé: “Beyoncé is a great artist and I feel honored to be mentioned in the same sentence, but we’re different performers with different styles”. She revealed during Oprah’s Next Chapter that Def Jam’s pop-princess blueprint made her feel claustrophobic during her early years with the label. According to Rihanna, “I felt like they were giving me a blueprint. They had a brand, they had an idea of what they wanted me to be without figuring out who I was.” With the release of her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), Rihanna dismissed her innocent image for an edgier look with a new hairstyle, which was inspired by Charlize Theron’s bob cut in the science fiction thriller Æon Flux (2005). She followed the likes of recording artists Janet Jackson and Christina Aguilera who also shed their innocent image for an edgier look and sound.
Nico Amarca of Highsnobiety magazine wrote “over the course of her now 10-year career, [Rihanna] has undergone one of the most significant aesthetic metamorphoses the world has ever seen”. Her image and fashion has changed several times with different hairstyles since the release of her third album. She commented that as a child she “used to watch her [mother] get dressed” and that her love and admiration for fashion started with her mom. When putting together her own wardrobe she stated, “It’s become more about taking a risk … I always look for the most interesting silhouette or something that’s a little off.” Jess Cartner-Morley of The Guardian wrote that “Rihanna’s wardrobe is the most talked-about, influential and dissected in pop right now” and that whatever she wears “is immediately reproduced on the high street, because it sells”. Country singer Miranda Lambert admires Rihanna’s fashion and style stating, “I don’t necessarily get inspired by the whole no-bra thing, but I love that you never know what she’s going to wear. It always keeps you guessing, which makes her sassy and interesting.”
In an interview with Alexa Chung during Vogue Festival 2015, Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing praised Rihanna by stylistically comparing her to some of the biggest fashion icons in music history, such as Madonna, David Bowie, Michael Jackson and Prince. Commenting on the cultural expectation for pop stars to be role models, she said “[being a role model] became more of my job than I wanted it to be. But no, I just want to make music. That’s it”. In a May 2013 interview with MTV, The Vagina Monologues writer and feminist Eve Ensler praised the singer, saying, “I’m a huge Rihanna fan, I think she has a kind of agency over her sexuality and she’s open about her sexuality, she has enormous grace and she’s immensely talented.”
Described as one of the sexiest women of her generation, she revealed that being a sex symbol is not a priority and that “it’s definitely flattering, but also uncomfortable.” Her appearance has landed her on the cover of magazines such as Maxim, FHM, Rolling Stone, and in December 2012, Rihanna became the first woman to be featured on the cover of GQ magazine’s “Men of the Year” issue.
Rihanna made her first appearance at the Met Gala in 2007. She has made eight appearances in the years since; notably in 2015, for China: Through the Looking Glass, her Guo Pei-designed yellow dress garnered the most attention of the event, accruing a billion impressions on social media. The dress, which had taken two years to make before Rihanna came across it, became the subject of a documentary by Pietra Brettkelly, entitled Yellow Is Forbidden. She co-chaired the 2018 Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination themed event, wearing Maison Margiela.
Rihanna is one of the best-selling music artists, having sold over 250 million records worldwide as of September 2018. She has received numerous awards throughout her career such as 9 Grammy Awards, 12 Billboard Music Awards, 13 American Music Awards, 8 People’s Choice Awards, among others. Rihanna received the “Icon Award” at the 2013 American Music Awards and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. She currently holds six Guinness World Records. In the United States, Rihanna has sold over 10 million albums, while Nielsen SoundScan ranked her as the best-selling digital artist in the country, breaking a Guinness World Record for digital single sales of over 58 million as of 2012.
On July 1, 2015, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) announced that Rihanna had surpassed more than 100 million Gold and Platinum song certifications. In doing so, Rihanna has the most digital single awards and is the first and only artist to surpass RIAA’s 100 million cumulative singles award threshold. In the United Kingdom, she has sold over 7 million albums, making her the third best selling female artist this century. According to Billboard, her total album sales stand at 54 million copies sold worldwide.
Rihanna has accumulated 14 No. 1 singles on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for the third most No. 1 songs in the chart’s history. She has been named the top Mainstream Top 40 chart artist of the past twenty years by Billboard; she ranks first with most entries (36), most top tens (23) and most No. 1 songs (10). As of March 2014, Rihanna has sold over 18 million singles and 6 million albums in the United Kingdom. She is the tenth best-selling and the second best-selling female singles artist in the country, only behind Madonna and is second only to The Beatles for the most million-selling singles in the UK of all time. Her collaboration with Eminem, “Love the Way You Lie”, together with “Umbrella”, “Disturbia”, “Only Girl (In the World)”, “We Found Love” and “Diamonds”, are some of the best-selling singles of all time worldwide. Rihanna has seven No. 1 singles on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and Airplay chart, as well as sixteen No. 1 singles on the Rhythmic chart. She has also earned over 30 top-ten songs in the UK and Australia, making her the only artist in the 21st century to achieve this feat so far.
Rihanna currently owns a $14 million penthouse in Manhattan, New York. She also purchased a house in West London for £7 million in June 2018, in order to be closer to her work with her FENTY fashion label. In December 2018, Rihanna put her Hollywood Hills mansion up for sale after a break-in six months before. The mansion was reported to have been selling for $10.4m.
According to the New York Post, Rihanna filed a lawsuit against Peter Gunis and the firm Berdon LLP for $35 million in 2012, on account of alleged fraud, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, but settled out of court for more than $10 million in 2014. Forbes began reporting on Rihanna’s earnings in 2012.
In 2007, Rihanna began dating fellow singer Chris Brown. Their relationship ended in February 2009, after which Rihanna dated Drake on-and-off from 2009 to 2016. In a January 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, Rihanna confirmed that she had rekindled her relationship with Chris Brown, though he remained under probation for the 2009 domestic violence incident. The confirmation followed persistent media speculation throughout 2012, regarding the pair’s reunion. In a May 2013 interview, Brown stated that he and Rihanna had broken up again. Rihanna began a relationship with Saudi businessman Hassan Jameel in 2017. The couple reportedly split in January 2020.
Rihanna is well known for her tattoos, the most famous of which (such as the tribal design on her hand, the gun on her ribcage, and the “shhh…” on her finger) have been done by New York tattoo artist Bang Bang. She has a large tattoo of the Egyptian goddess Isis on her sternum, dedicated to her late grandmother.
Domestic violence case
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna’s scheduled performance at the 51st Annual Grammy Awards was canceled. Reports surfaced that Brown had physically assaulted her. He turned himself in to police and was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats.
On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats. Due to a leaked photograph from the police department obtained by TMZ.com—which revealed that Rihanna had sustained visible injuries—an organization known as STOParazzi proposed “Rihanna’s Law”, which, if enacted, would “deter employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims.” Gil Kaufman of VH1 reported the “nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim—which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases” and discussed the controversial distribution of the leaked photograph. Rihanna was subpoenaed to testify during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles on June 22, 2009. On June 22, 2009, Brown pleaded guilty to felony assault. Brown received five years of probation and was ordered to stay 50 yards (46 m) away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then would be reduced to 10 yards (9 m).
On September 2, 2009, Brown spoke about the domestic violence case in a pre-recorded Larry King Live interview, his first public interview about the matter. He was accompanied to the interview by his mother, Joyce Hawkins, and attorney Mark Geragos, as he discussed growing up in a household with his mother being repeatedly assaulted by his stepfather. Brown said of hearing details of his assault of Rihanna, “I’m in shock, because, first of all, that’s not who I am as a person, and that’s not who I promise I want to be.”
In March 2018, Rihanna posted a statement shaming Snapchat for mocking her domestic violence situation. The ad put out by Snapchat asked if users would rather “slap Rihanna or punch Chris Brown” in a “Would You Rather” format. Snapchat issued an apology statement.
- Music of the Sun (2005)
- A Girl like Me (2006)
- Good Girl Gone Bad (2007, reissued in 2008 as Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded)
- Rated R (2009)
- Loud (2010)
- Talk That Talk (2011)
- Unapologetic (2012)
- Anti (2016)
- Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006)
- Battleship (2012)
- This Is the End (2013)
- Home (2015)
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
- Ocean’s 8 (2018)
- Guava Island (2019)