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The rise and rise of Rihanna 

For nearly two decades, this pop-culture icon has not just pushed boundaries – she’s demolished them. From music to beauty to fashion to business, Rihanna has redefined what it means to be a global sensation.  

Imagine a music icon whose impact resonates far beyond the beats. Rihanna is exactly that. (Yes, you’re an icon when a single name will do!) The Barbadian-born singer, fashionista, actor and entrepreneur has become, over an 18-year career, a symbol of empowerment for young women around the world. From humble beginnings to global sensation (the second-highest-selling female music artist of all time), fashion icon and trail-blazing businesswoman, she continues to captivate audiences. 

A lyrical story  

Rihanna’s childhood was marked by her parents’ troubled, abusive marriage and her father’s battle with addiction. She found comfort in music and at age 16, she caught the attention of record producer Evan Rogers. A year later she was signed by the legendary rapper and music executive Jay-Z.  

Her debut album, Music of the Sun, showcased her unique blend of pop, RnB and Caribbean influences. The lead single, ‘Pon de Replay’, was an instant hit, propelling her into the limelight. Her career reached greater heights with the release of A Girl Like Me in 2006, and what followed was a dramatic transformation.  

Her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, was the turning point, showing a more edgy and provocative Rihanna. The lead single, ‘Umbrella’, featuring Jay-Z, became a global phenomenon and earned Rihanna her first Grammy Award (she has since collected eight more of these). 

The fenty revolution  

In 2017, she spearheaded a style revolution with Fenty Beauty. “Fenty is more than a brand; it’s a movement,” she said. “Fenty Beauty is about inclusion, and that’s a message I want to resonate beyond the beauty industry.  

It’s about celebrating individuality and breaking the traditional norms of beauty and fashion. I didn’t want to just create products; I wanted to create a brand that stands for something. ” Building on that success, Rihanna launched Savage x Fenty, a lingerie brand known for its size-inclusive offerings and body-positive messaging. 

Empowering the next generation  

Rihanna’s impact reaches far beyond the entertainment industry – she’s disrupted the beauty industry and the fashion world. As an entrepreneur, she doesn’t just build brands; she creates movements.  

But that’s not all. She is also a cultural influencer. “I want young black girls to know that they can achieve anything. There are no limits to what they can accomplish.” Over the years, she has also used her platform and success to make a more profound difference. In 2012 she founded the Clara Lionel Foundation (named after her grandparents) to support education initiatives, terminally ill children and healthcare, climate justice and funding disaster-relief and Covid-relief efforts.  

‘I never want to be just a singer or just a businesswoman. I want to be a symbol of empowerment. My success should inspire others, especially young black girls, to dream beyond the boundaries,” she says. 

A new verse unfolds  

Rihanna’s journey has also taken a major turn with her relationship with rapper A$AP Rocky and becoming a mother. Their love story started in 2020 (they’d known each other since he joined her Diamond Tour in 2013); both artists with unique styles, they’ve found a harmonious connection.  

“We’re best friends with a baby,” she recently said on a press tour in the US. “We have to be on the same page, but we’ve always had that in our relationship. Everything changes when you have a baby, but I wouldn’t say it’s done anything but made us closer.” 

With two sons, Rza (2 years old) and Riot (6 months), she sees motherhood as a chapter that adds a new layer to her multifaceted life. “I’m learning as I go, but being a mother has been the most rewarding part of my journey. It’s given me a sense of purpose beyond anything I’ve ever experienced.”  

As she continues to redefine norms and influence the world in myriad ways, the question arises: What’s next? “It’s not about the money. It’s about the music fi rst, and the business will follow.” Her perspective hints at a deep commitment to music, and we can’t wait for album No. 9. 

Fast facts  

Full Name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty 

DOB: 20 February 1988 

Age: 36 

Hometown: Bridgetown, Barbados 

Lives In: Beverly Hills, California and New York City


Follow her: 

Facebook: @Rihanna 
Instagram: @badgalriri
X: @rihanna / SavageXFenty 
TikTok: @Rihanna  


Words by: Koketso Mashika
Photography: Gallo/Getty Images 

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