Rihanna is indeed working on a reggae album, according to an interview with T magazine. The singer hinted at releasing an album influenced by her Caribbean roots to Vogue nearly a year ago, and eight sources confirmed this to Rolling Stone last July. “[Rihanna’s team] have, no lie, 500 records for this project [from] different producers and writers,” said an anonymous producer. “They’re only choosing 10 records. They’ve been having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now.”
Though the album release date remains unclear, the singer joked that it will probably be titled “R9,” a name her fan base the Navy has given it since it will be her ninth studio album. “I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this ‘R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?’” she said. “How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?”
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Rihanna denied rumors that she’s working with Lady Gaga, but said she is open to collaborating. “Maybe because she followed me on Instagram … It’s not in the books right now, but I’m not against it.” One thing is for certain, though: she will not be collaborating with Drake. “Not on this album, that’s for sure,” the singer said.
Rihanna’s return to music follows an historic benchmark in her other area of expertise: fashion. Her company Fenty will launch as an LVMH luxury brand on May 29th, making Rihanna the first black woman in charge of a major luxury fashion house in Paris. She wasn’t even aware of this fact until her style director Jahleel Weaver pointed it out to her. “I’m like, ‘Are you sure about that? Did you do your research? ’Cause I don’t wanna state a claim that’s [expletive],’” she said. “Because I still couldn’t believe it. It made me feel proud.”
Fenty will distribute its clothing fully online. “I hate seeing something on the runway and then having to wait six months for it,” the singer said. This pivot towards fashion comes after Rihanna launched her own makeup line in 2017. “I used to be afraid to step into the whole celebrity makeup world,” she said. “I saw brands like Hilary Duff and Hannah Montana23 have so much success [in the aughts], but it got to a place where they were so oversaturated in the market that it diluted their personal brands.”
Because of this, Rihanna used the name Fenty as a way to separate it from her music. “I used Fenty so that you didn’t have to hear the word ‘Rihanna’ every time you saw something that I did,” she said. “So Rihanna stayed [with] the music, the person. But these other brands are called Fenty.”