The Evolution of Rihanna [UPDATE]

The Evolution of Rihanna [UPDATE]

From her early days in Barbados to the Forbes Billionaire's List, and now the Super Bowl we take you through some of the major moments of BadGal Riri's career.

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Photo: Mike Coppola (Getty Images)

She’s a singer, fashion icon, makeup maven and Forbes-certified billionaire. And pretty soon, she’ll be a mom. I mean, is there anything this girl can’t do? Pretty much everything this beauty from Barbados touches turns to gold. But how did it all start? Let’s look back at the evolution of Rihanna.

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Bajan Beauty

Bajan Beauty

Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born on February 20, 1988, on the island of Barbados. The oldest of three children, Rihanna’s mother, Monica Fenty, was an accountant, and her father, Ronald Fenty, was a warehouse supervisor. The singer has been open about her father’s struggles with alcohol and drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey for her show, Oprah’s Next Chapter, the singer took the Queen of Talk to the island of Barbados, giving viewers an exclusive look inside the home she lived in with her family until she was 16.

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2003 - Her First Big Break

2003 - Her First Big Break

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In 2003, Rihanna met record producer Evan Rogers, who was in Barbados on vacation with his wife. Although she had no formal voice or dance training, the teen was eager to break into the music business. When she got the chance to sing for Rogers, he was blown away. “She had such a presence!” Rogers later told author John Seabrook for his book, The Song Machine. “The whole time I’m thinking, ‘OK I have to follow-up meeting with this one,’” he said.

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Def Jam Deal

Def Jam Deal

With Jay-Z and fellow Def Jam artists Ne-Yo and Teairra Mari at a 2005 Teen People listening event
With Jay-Z and fellow Def Jam artists Ne-Yo and Teairra Mari at a 2005 Teen People listening event
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

In early 2005, Rihanna flew to New York City to meet with executives at Def Jam, including president and CEO Jay-Z, something she said made her very nervous. “I remember being extremely quiet. I was very shy. I was cold the entire time. I had butterflies. I’m sitting across from Jay-Z. Like Jay-Zee. I was star-struck,” she said in an interview with The Guardian. But after singing a Whitney Houston cover and two of her original songs, including “Pon de Replay,” she clearly made an impression on the execs who signed her to the label.

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Song of the Summer

Song of the Summer

The world was introduced to Rihanna on May 24, 2005, when the 17-year-burst onto the music scene with “Pon de Replay” the first single from her first album, Music of the Sun. At the time, Rolling Stone was lukewarm about the album and Rihanna as an artist, calling her a “young Mariah Carey minus the birdcalls,” and saying that “the generic vocal hiccups and frills clearly learned from American R&B often overwhelm her Caribbean charm.” But she would definitely prove them wrong, dominating the charts for years to come.

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RiRi Grabs Her First Grammy

RiRi Grabs Her First Grammy

Rihanna at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards
Rihanna at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

By 2008, Rihanna was all over the radio. And the industry was beginning to take notice. The singer received four nominations at the 50th Annual Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year. Although she lost that one to Amy Winehouse, she did walk away with the award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for “Umbrella,” her hit collab with Jay-Z.

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Chris Brown Grammy Drama

Chris Brown Grammy Drama

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Fans thought they’d see Rihanna show up on the Grammy red carpet with then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown. But when an argument after Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party turned physical, the pair never made it. The world was shocked when photos of a badly injured Rihanna were leaked to the public. Brown went on to plead guilty to assault charges and sentenced to 180 days of community service.

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RiRi Joins Roc Nation

RiRi Joins Roc Nation

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After releasing her first seven albums on Def Jam, Rihanna decided to jump ship. Jay-Z, who had been instrumental in getting her deal left the label in 2009 to start his own, Roc Nation. RiRi began distancing herself when she left her manager Marc Jordan to join Roc Nation’s Management company in 2010. Then in May 2014, the news broke that the singer had officially left Def Jam to join the Roc Nation family with Jay, J. Cole, Jay Electronica, and Rita Ora.

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Puma Partnership

Puma Partnership

Spring/Summer 2018 FENTY PUMA runway show
Spring/Summer 2018 FENTY PUMA runway show
Photo: Brian Ach (Getty Images)

In December 2014, Puma named Rihanna their new Women’s Creative Director. At only 26-years-old, she signed a multi-year partnership to help the brand boost sales, particularly women who made up less than 50 percent of customers at the time. In the announcement, the company said the singer would “design and customize classic Puma styles and create new styles to add to the Puma product portfolio.”

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Putting Her Best Face Forward

Putting Her Best Face Forward

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Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)

In 2017, the singer decided to throw her energy into a new industry with a line of cosmetics, called Fenty Beauty. RiRi says she’s always loved using makeup as a form of self-expression, and wanted to create an inclusive line of products that would appeal to people of all skin tones and types. The collection made its debut at Sephora stores with 15 products, including lip glosses, highlighter and makeup tools. Today, the expanded line can also be found at Kohl’s and Ulta Beauty stores in the United States, as well as Harvey Nichols and Boots stores in Ireland and the United Kingdom.

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Lingerie Launch

Lingerie Launch

Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 2 presented by Amazon Prime Video
Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 2 presented by Amazon Prime Video
Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)

In May of 2018, Bad Gal RiRi expanded her empire even further with the launch of Savage x Fenty. The line of lingerie, sleepwear and accessories includes styles that range from t-shirt bras and underwear for everyday to sexier garter belt sets and bodysuits. Rihanna said in an interview with Vogue, “I can only hope to encourage confidence and strength by showing lingerie in another light. You don’t have to stick to one personality with lingerie. It’s fun to play around. You can be cute and playful one week and a black widow next week. You can take risks with lingerie. I want people to wear Savage x Fenty and think, I’m a bad bitch. I want women to own their beauty.”

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Met Gala Co-Chair

Met Gala Co-Chair

At 2018 Met Gala
At 2018 Met Gala
Photo: Theo Wargo (Getty Images)

Rihanna was already considered a style icon. But in 2018, she received one of the fashion industry’s biggest honors when she was tapped to co-chair the Met Gala along with Amal Clooney, Donatella Versace and Vogue’s Anna Wintour. Legendary fashion journalist Andre Leon Talley called the annual A-list event the Super Bowl of fashion. That year’s theme was “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.”

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Ocean’s 8

Ocean’s 8

At Ocean’s 8 World Premiere in New York City
At Ocean’s 8 World Premiere in New York City
Photo: Michael Stewart (Getty Images)

In the summer of 2018, Rihanna hit the big screen in the film Ocean’s 8. Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling and Anne Hathaway are also part of the star-studded cast that puts a feminine spin on the classic Ocean’s Eleven. Rihanna plays a dreadlock-wearing hacker named Nine Ball, who joins a group of female thieves to pull off the ultimate heist at the Met Gala.

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Billion-Dollar Beauty

Billion-Dollar Beauty

Image for article titled The Evolution of Rihanna [UPDATE]
Photo: Kevin Mazur (Getty Images)

The singer’s stardom skyrocketed to a whole new level when she was added to the Forbes Billionaires List in 2022 along with Jay-Z and Kanye West. Rihanna’s net worth of over $1.7 billion puts her at number 1,729 on the list which includes the likes of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos. But it’s not her music that got her added to this exclusive club. In fact, $1.4 billion of her fortune comes from Fenty Beauty.The singer’s addition made all kinds of history. She’s not only the highest ranking female musician but she’s also the first person from Barbados to ever make the list.

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Oh Baby!

Oh Baby!

Rihanna and A$AP Rocky at Milan Fashion Week 2022
Rihanna and A$AP Rocky at Milan Fashion Week 2022
Photo: Jacopo M. Raule (Getty Images)

Rihanna started off 2022 in a big way when she shocked fans with news of her pregnancy. We got a first glimpse of her baby bump in January 2022, when she was photographed walking around New York City, with partner A$AP Rocky. The pair, who have been friends since 2013, have been dating since 2020.

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Going Vogue

Going Vogue

Since she announced her pregnancy, Rihanna has put her own sexy spin on maternity fashion. There are no jeans with elastic waistbands for this mama-to-be. RiRi has been proudly displaying her baby bump and pregnancy curves every chance she gets. One of the best examples was on the April 2022 cover of Vogue, where she’s seen wearing a lacy red bodysuit with matching heels.

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Super Bowl Halftime Show

Super Bowl Halftime Show

Fans have begged RiRi to get back in the studio and on stage. In September it was announced that we get to see her perform for the Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show. The NFL lost Rihanna’s support after Colin Kaepernick’s police brutality protests. However, now the Halftime Show is under Roc Nation’s management, her signed label. Fingers crossed she releases a new album before the show of the year!

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