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Rihanna Talks Reggae Album, Super Bowl, & Finding Love

Queen Obakpolor

Oct. 09, 2019

Rihanna is a force to be reckoned with.
The powerhouse singer, actress, mogul, and designer graces the November issue of Vogue . In addition to modeling Fenty, the fashion line she created in partnership with LVMH, she dons dresses from Alexander McQueen, Gucci, and Dolce & Gabbana in the stunning photos by Ethan James Green.
In the wide-ranging interview, RiRi opens up about everything from her love life (“It’s going really well, so I’m happy”) to President Trump (“The most mentally ill human being in America”) to the Super Bowl, which she turned down in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that?” she says. “Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler.”
The conversation also turns to her long-awaited ninth album, dubbed R9 by her fans. “I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album,” she says. “It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae.”
But she stops short when asked for a release date. “No, oh my God, they’re gonna kill you for that!” she says about her fans, The Navy. “And they’re going to kill me more!”
But despite her busy schedule, she will never give up her first love. “Music is, like, speaking in code to the world, where they get it. It’s the weird language that connects me to them,” she says. “Me the designer, me the woman who creates makeup and lingerie–it all started with music. It was my first pen pal-ship to the world. To cut that off is to cut my communication off. All of these other things flourish on top of that foundation.”
Now 31, Rihanna feels like she has matured and is in a good place. “I’m definitely feeling a shift,” she says. “I’m growing up. There’s things that I’m paying attention to that I’ve never paid attention to.”
Read highlights from the interview below.
On her Fenty brand: “I’m not the face of my brand, but I am the muse, and my DNA has to run all the way through it. I don’t want anyone to pull up my website and think, Rihanna would never wear that.”
On her long-awaited ninth album: “I have been trying to get back into the studio. It’s not like I can lock myself in for an extended amount of time, like I had the luxury of doing before. I know I have some very unhappy fans who don’t understand the inside bits of how it works.”
On the reggae influence on R9 : “I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album. It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks. Reggae always feels right to me. It’s in my blood. It doesn’t matter how far or long removed I am from that culture, or my environment that I grew up in; it never leaves. It’s always the same high. Even though I’ve explored other genres of music, it was time to go back to something that I haven’t really homed in on completely for a body of work.”
On her 10th album: “We always went into the music this time around saying that we were going to do two different pieces of art. One was gonna be inspired by the music that I grew up listening to. And one was gonna be the evolution of where I’m going next with music.”
On turning down the Super Bowl to support Colin Kaepernick: “Absolutely. I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
On mass shootings and terrorism in the U.S.: “It is devastating. People are being murdered by war weapons that they legally purchase. This is just not normal. That should never, ever be normal. And the fact that it’s classified as something different because of the color of their skin? It’s a slap in the face. It’s completely racist.”
On Trump: “Put an Arab man with that same weapon in that same Walmart and there is no way that Trump would sit there and address it publicly as a mental health problem. The most mentally ill human being in America right now seems to be the president.”
On staying woke: “I don’t feel outside the fray. When I see something happen to any woman, a woman of any minority, kids, black men being murdered in the streets–I can’t remove myself from that.”
On her relationship with Saudi businessman Hassan Jameel: “Yeah, I’m dating. I’m actually in an exclusive relationship for quite some time, and it’s going really well, so I’m happy.”
On whether she wants kids: “Without a doubt.”
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