Robyn Fenty, known to her fans and audiences worldwide by her middle name, Rihanna, made a giant splash in the music industry since signs to Def Jam Recordings in 2005. She eleased six albums since her debut, topping the Billboard charts with hit after hit, plus earning four Grammys and dozens of other awards. It can’t be denied that the singer has had a huge impact in terms of her music and fashion throughout her career.
In December 2003, at the age of 15, Rihanna met American music producer Evan Rogers, who has worked with Christina Aguilera and Ruben Studdard. The young singer had the opportunity to audition for him, and he was impressed by her vocal ability. After a second meeting, Rogers invited Rihanna to do some recording and write with him in New York. Over the course of a year, she recorded a four-song demo, including what would become her first hit, “Pon de Replay.” In January 2005, Rogers began sending Rihanna’s demo to various recording companies. He sent a copy of the demo to Def Jam Recordings, where it was eventually played it for the label’s then-president, Jay-Z. Though skeptical about Rihanna at first after hearing her demo — fearing she would be a one-hit wonder — Jay-Z ended up signing the singer after she auditioned live before him.
She debuted with her first single, “Pon de Replay,” from her 2005 album, Music of the Sun, and I took a liking to her instantly. The young Barbados singer stuck to her Caribbean roots with the hit. I was 15 and loved to dance, and with the song’s reggae vibe, I couldn’t help but play it non-stop. The song was fun and had a great beat to dance to (I even learned most of the choreography). I had to turn it up every time it was on the radio or on TV! The album was pretty good too, with an awesome mix of upbeat, party songs, as well as touching love ballads. From that point, I was forever a Rihanna fan.
(“Pon De Replay,” Music of the Sun)
The pop star released another album in 2006, A Girl Like Me, which spawned hits “SOS” and “Unfaithful“). With 2007′s Good Girl Gone Bad, Rihanna completely revamped her image. She was no longer the innocent, reggae-loving, cute RiRi that fans had come to know her as. The singer cut her hair short and dyed it black, taking on a more edgy, rebellious and sexy look. The album itself delivered seven singles, including “Umbrella” featuring mentor Jay-Z. (Little known fact: “Umbrella” was originally given to Britney Spears, whose label rejected it and offered it to Mary J. Blige, before it eventually ended up in Rihanna’s hands.)
(“Umbrella,” Good Girl Gone Bad)
In 2009, she bounced back after her volatile relationship with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, releasing her fourth album Rated R. While it wasn’t Rihanna’s best album, at least not in my personal opinion, the CD went platinum in the states, selling over 1 million copies in the US a year after its release. The album had a good number of hits, including “Russian Roulette” and “Rude Boy.”
(“Rude Boy,” Rated R)
Rihanna has continued her reign as one of the top female pop stars with her 2010 release of Loud, which has gone platinum in the U.S. and multi-platinum throughout the world, including in the U.K., Australia, and Germany. Loud gave fans another seven singles, including top hits “Only Girl (In The World)“, and the controversial “S&M.” Her newest album, Talk That Talk, dropped just last month, and has already gained the singer yet another No. 1 hit with “We Found Love,” all in all giving Rihanna ELEVEN No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts. With that record, she now surpasses Stevie Wonder and Janet Jackson, and ties with Whitney Houston. “We Found Love” marked the eleventh hit for the pop star, which she developed a pretty interesting concept for, in spite of alarming that Irish farmer on the video shoot.
(“We Found Love,” Talk That Talk)
In addition to her great music, Rihanna also gives back in a huge way. She has held numerous concerts for donations to various charities, even starting her Believe Foundation in 2006, to aid terminally ill children. Rihanna also serves as honorary Ambassador for Culture and Youth in Barbados, having been honored several times in her native land for her accomplishments.
And, of course, I can’t forget the variety of different hairstyles and colors that Rihanna has rocked over the years. Most of them were awesome, but the Ronald McDonald red dye she experimented with took some warming up to. From fiery red, to sassy brunette, jet black, and golden blonde, I feel like she’s done it all in terms of hair dye. Rihanna’s definitely experimental, and has set her own style, regardless of critics.
I love seeing artists’ growth over the years, from their fashion and hair choices, to their music and performances. Rihanna is no different. She has had her share of highs and lows. She has changed up her image and music drastically since she was 17, but what artist wouldn’t? With every passing day, there comes new experiences, new views on life, and, lucky for Rihanna’s fans, new material to listen to!