Rihanna | On The Record

Rihanna | On The Record

October 15, 2019 100 By Kailee Schamberger


I never wanted to be a
celebrity, I wanted to be a musician and I wanted to make
music that was worldwide. I like things that
are a little twisted. It was a rollercoaster
for me, emotionally. Bit of bad ass People really
don’t know who I am. A bit of lady. Rihanna. Hello. Thanks for being on
the record with Fuse. My pleasure, finally
be able to do this. I know. So, how are you? Are you happy? I’m great! I’m great, I’m
really excited. Tell me about the
evolution of Rihanna, cause you start off with Music of
the Sun and then it’s A Girl Like Me and then
it’s Good Girl Gone Bad and now it’s Rated R,
kind of like, where can you go after Rated R? Every album for me has
been a natural step, um in my career growth, it has
displayed the different steps in my career and
every one happens to be better than the
previous one. For me, that’s the most
important thing-just making sure that every
time you do something you do it better than you did
it before and those, even when I listen to my music
or watch my videos for instance from “Pon De Replay”
to “Russian Roulette” it’s not even the same
person, it’s not even the same person, but I
don’t know anyone who has been the same person at
17 that they were at 21. I talked to L.A. Reid about
this album. He’s executing…executive
producing this and he said he’s given you hit records
and you knew they’re hits and he knew they’re hits
and you said, “Nope, it’s not my vision.” So clearly, you had a lot of say
in what’s happening with this album. Yeah, because, um, I
guess, the last album it really worked, but I
didn’t want to repeat myself and I didn’t think
that was true artistry. And, I paid attention to
it a lot more musically and lyrically cuz’ I did
help pen most of the songs and I just didn’t want
a hit, anybody can make a hit, but I wanted a real
album with true music, real deep lyrics,
clever lyrics. And they are hits too, so
we wanted to make great songs, but with
great meaning. So why do an album now? Why not take 6 months,
you know, you’ve got the money, you’ve got the time,
everybody would wait for you. It’s not like your spots
going anywhere. All your fans still love you. Why not take 6 months,
9 months and hang out? Well that was the
original plan. I knew after the Grammys
was when I would have taken a little
bit of time. But I drove myself crazy
for the few weeks I had off before I got
back in the studio. That’s what made me get
back in the studio because I felt like such
a delinquent. I’m like, I’m going
crazy in here guys. I got cabin fever. I just stayed in the house
because I didn’t really want to hang out
around people. And then I just got out, I
just started working again ’cause I called Jay Brown
and LA Reid, I said I’m ready, I am ready, I’m
going crazy, I need to get in the studio and
we did just that. Right away. Right away. And it just made
you feel better Yeah it was my
place of peace. Of course you know how
crazy it was out there, it was just chaotic media
circus and the only place that was peaceful for
me was the studio. It was just 4 walls of
protection, something that was positive, and
something that I love to do. And it was therapeutic. I got to vent there, I
just felt like no one was judging me, no one was
staring, no one was feeling sorry for me, it
was just all about music Do you think it’s fair to
say this is, Rated R is an angry album? No. It’s a display of
so many different emotions and moods because it was
a rollercoaster for me emotionally, and it’s
documented on it cuz’ as I said everyday in the
studio I didn’t feel the same. Some days I was angry,
some days I was sad, some days I was felt like
talking about sex, some days I just felt like
being cocky. So there— there—there are different
moods, I would never say it’s an angry album. There’s definitely some
angry songs, some songs that you know, having that
feeling of wanting to have revenge. There are those
songs there. Tell me about “Russian
Roulette,” cuz it’s a very intense song you know it’s
very emotional song and um, your heart is beating
hard as you listen to it, cuz the girl in the song is
actually playing Russian Roulette, right? And it’s
her turn to go and she’s nervous but she’s like
I’m going to face down my fear, I’m going to do it. Yes, “Russian Roulette”, um,
when you think about the game, it’s a very
terrifying game. And potentially, you can
get hurt in the end and it’s a lot like
the game of love. Because that’s when
feeling are involved. Um, and that’s what the
song is actually about, it’s not about literally
playing “Russian Roulette” But you’ve introduced this
crazy game to a lot of kids who perhaps weren’t
aware of it before, do you think about the impact on
them, suddenly discovering this game through you? This time around I wasn’t
so concerned about a demographic or what
people thought. I was in a very very deep
place and I had a lot to say and “Russian Roulette”
is a part of that expression. It’s not about the game at
all, which is—I wish people would get that. It’s poetry. “Photographs” was the
last song you made. And you said you went to
Will.I.Am’s house and he played it for you and it
was a Black Eyed Peas’ song and you said no,
no, no-I’m taking that song. How do you go to
Will.I.Am’s house and take a song away from
the Black Eyed Peas? He didn’t really want
to play that at first, because he was like Ok,
Rihanna’s here now, y’all come to strong arm me and
we were like, we just want to hear it. But when I heard it, the
story is so, so real and it— I was like this is my story. What are you guys
doing with this song? This is not “The Energy
Never Dies” this is some deep shit and everybody
knows that feeling of after a break up, you know,
you just feel empty like “What? I just spent the last
how many years in this relationship, building
this foundation and all I have left to show for it is
some photographs of memories” It was so personal and I
felt it right here, and I wasn’t leaving
the studio without it. One of my favorite lines
on the album is on “Wait Your Turn,” you say “I’m
such a fuckin’ lady!” And you very
much are a lady. So explain what
that meant to you? Well, everything goes
back to that line, which is funny that you picked that
out because that’s my favorite line too. I actually wanted to name my
album, “Such A Fuckin’ Lady” couple of stores, uh…couple of major outlets didn’t allow that. Um, but… Was that really
the first title? Yeah. That was the title for,
for a while, but Rated R made more sense because
of the overall story. It’s a movie
really, the album. But “Such a fucking lady” we
take everything back to that—especially
in our style. It’s that playing with the
tough but not too tough, and being a lady but not too
girlie because that’s not me. I kind of play on both. I like things a little
twisted, a bit a bad ass and a bit of lady. Do you think your image
has changed this year? I’ve been away for a few
months, probably like 8 months or so, people
didn’t hear anything from me because I didn’t talk. All they saw was me
getting out of my hotel into the car,
out of the car. They didn’t know where I
was going or who I was going with or
what I was doing. They didn’t
know my growth. They just—All of the sudden they saw from
the Clive Davis party to now Yeah And the album definitely lets
you in on what I thought about for those 8 months. I was going through my mind,
what made me come to this place right now. And, for me, my image
has definitely changed. Absolutely, because again,
I grew up, I grew up. I was forced to. My story has been pretty
exposed and naked out there so, I spoke about
my situation so women can learn from it. And now I’m in a different place
and, I just want them to learn from my experience. How early did this dream
of being a singer start? Very young. I had to be like
6 years old. I always loved music. I always loved it. And then I would start singing
along and before you knew it, I wanted to be that
person so bad that I would lip sync or dance or look
in the mirror or perform for my friends or cousins,
and I just always knew, I just always knew that one day
I’m gonna be doing this. I knew. Well, who are the singers
you idolized and tried to follow,
pattern yourself? Well, I always used to
listen to all the divas like Mariah Carey for sure
was one of my favorites always. Whitney Houston, I love
Celine Dion, loved Shania Twain. I used to listen to those
4 for sure, religiously. And now they’re my peers
which is so crazy. [Laughs] You’ve talked about Bob
Marley as an influence too. What is the musical
influence on you from Marley? Being from Barbados, Bob
Marley is like our king. And every artist from the
Caribbean, they see Bob Marley and they’re like,
if he made it from a small island to be this worldwide
legend, we can do it too. And that’s why he was
such a big inspiration, and motivation for me. You’ve talked about nobody
gets off the island, but you did, so why were
you able to do that? Well I was presented with a
very, very great opportunity. Evan Rogers and Carl
Surkin, they’re two producers. They discovered me. I met with them,
auditioned, started recording a demo, a year
later we finally finished it and sent it out to a
few labels and luckily we got some calls back. So big moment in the
ascent of Rihanna, when you auditioned for Jay Z. Describe that
story for me. So scary. So scary. All I remember saying is
“oh my gosh, I’m about to not only meet Jay-Z,”
because that’s a big thing. Then I have the audition
of my life, and it’s with Jay-Z. So it was double, double
pressure and I literally was shaking. No lie, I sat there in the
lobby waiting and I was shaking. And when I saw him all I
remember is I sat back and I was like “Oh my god, oh
my god, oh my god! He’s coming, he’s coming, he’s coming!” But you were still able to
sing In a way that knocked his socks off, right? Well, I had to put
my game face on. It was do or die
at that moment. I could not mess up that
opportunity I would have been a fool. What did you sing? I sang this song called
“The Last Time” from my first album, as well as
“Pon de Replay” and… They heard the demo
so they kind of knew. But they wanted to see me
in person, and hear me live, and after I
performed for them, it was just a matter of us
coming to an agreement. How soon after you stopped
singing did you get a deal? 12 hours? And 12 hours later, your
manager called you? No, 12 hours
later we signed. We didn’t really leave. We stayed. You didn’t leave
the building? Right, it was pretty
much that day. It was literally
12 hours later. And Jay told you— It was 3 am. And they
told you, you can’t leave? You were like “I’m tired,
I wanna go back to the hotel, don’t worry
I’ll sign with you.” Because they didn’t want us to
audition with other labels. That’s what the
fear really was. So they semi kidnapped
you for 12 hours. It was worth it, though.
It was so worth it. So let’s talk about “Umbrella”,
it’s your biggest hit. What about “Umbrella”
struck such a chord to make it become
this monster hit? I think “Umbrella” to me is
one of the most magical records. And anyone could have done it,
and it would have been massive ’cause it’s a very
infectious song, like you don’t ever get
tired of it. Even performing it now for
me, I never get tired of it. Two songs, not of yours, that I
love that you kinda took over, “Run This Town”
and “Live Your Life”. These are hip hop songs,
but you come in, you kinda take over the record and
overshadow the rappers. Is there something about
doing a track with these MCs that brings out an
extra energy in you? If you notice, I don’t really do
a lot of collaborations. And “Live Your Life” and
“Run This Town”, they’re two songs that you can’t say
no to, and they’re also artists that you
want to work with. Jay Z and T.I., they’re
very credible rappers so I didn’t have a problem
doing it for them, and also I loved the songs and
they became hits which I was also very
very happy about. I was very grateful to be
a part of those records too. What has been Jay’s
best advice to you? In the beginning
of my career, I remember “Pon de Replay” started
doing really well and he came up to me at a
showcase and he said “You must be really be a great
person because great things keep happening for you. Don’t ever change who you are.
Always remain humble, the same” And it kind of rings in my ear
every day I hear that. And it stuck with me. And I have a lot to
be grateful for. You said you’ve
built an empire. How do you define empire? Um, well, I built a brand. The brand is Rihanna. And there are a lot of things
that come with that. It’s a lot of work that
went into this brand, and that’s why I say I built
an empire because it was from the ground up, ya know? We started from scratch. And everything we’ve done
thus far has had a lot of influence for me. What does Rihanna the
brand stand for? Naughty, naughty,
just kidding. I’m a musician, I’m a very
creative person, I love music, I love fashion,
I’m very edgy. I’m always a little to the
left, never safe, because it’s just not me,
it’s never who I am. Everything I do, it
reflects that, whether it be what I wear in an
interview, a photo shoot, nothing is safe cause
that’s just not Rihanna. You’re taking
acting classes now? Tell me something… Yeah on and off. I want to do movies. So that’s why I’m getting
into acting classes but… right now, I have a very
demanding schedule when it comes to music so that’s
not really going to happen right now. But in the future, movies. Yeah I want to do
movies for sure. You are gorgeous. Thank you! Did you have that in
your little notes? Yes. Yes, really? But I mean, the first time I met you, I was like wow, whole other level face to face. Thank you, God bless you. But do you look in the
mirror, no ego, but look in the mirror and be like,
“Wow, I kind of got lucky with the way bone structure— Oh my God, I mean every
day I look in the mirror and say damn I’m cute. No. [Laughs with Toure] Usually I’m like, “Oh great, now I have a fuckin’ pimple.” [Laughs with Toure] But when you don’t have a
pimple, are you like, kind of lucky? No, no, every day there’s something is never good enough. You never look in the
mirror and say yes, I’m perfect today. It’s always like, “okay, I
don’t have a pimple but my gut looks huge.” Awesome. You always find a flaw. That’s what the mirror is
there for, it’s very bad. When you were in Barbados,
you wanted to be a celebrity, that’s what
you’ve been dreaming about for all this time. But there is a downside to
that, what is the downside to all that? Well the downside is
there’s no private life, there’s no privacy. You can’t imagine what
that has to feel like. There’s nothing
you can do. You can’t step out of your
hotel room without the paparazzi being parked
outside of there, they’re parked outside
of your house. There’s no moment of “Okay,
now I’m finished where I can close the door.” No, there’s none of that. And that’s the downside, that’s
the big downside. But also if that’s what I have to deal with to do what I love, I’ll take it. Because the upside is I
get to do what I love and I get to travel to all
these amazing countries and cities and meet
amazing people and just reach out to my fans
all over the world. There’s— I can deal with
the paparazzi. Thank you so much. Thank you! You’re awesome. That was wonderful. Thank you. Thank you.