Rihana recently won her third Grammy, has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry and is still only 22. This week on TALK ASIA, CNN’s Anjali Rao heads to Seoul to sit down with singer/songwriter sensation Rihanna who talks in-depth about her latest album “Rated R”, her past relationship with Chris Brown, troubles in her childhood and her first nerve-wracking meeting with Jay-Z.
The “Rated R” album which has sold more than 2 million copies since its November release, is according to Rihanna “absolutely the most personal album I’ve done so far.“ She collaborated with Justin Timberlake on “Cold Case Love”, the song about her relationship with Chris Brown, and explains: “It’s a song that everybody wanted to hear, everything that I didn’t say for the past eight months, exactly how I felt about that relationship and how I feel about it now- that song says it all.”
On the relationship with Brown, she admits: “I know that I’ll be asked about it probably for the next couple of years unfortunately but I’m in a different place, you know. It was a rough time for me I’m gonna admit, it was tough and when I think about it, it was a really dark time for me.” On the assault and the huge media attention it received, she says: “It would have made it a lot different only because it’s something no one wants anyone to know that’s happening in a relationship. Even if it just happened one time nobody wants to talk about that. That’s just a memory you want to erase right away so seeing it plastered over every news channel like I felt like it was a natural disaster that was happening, the amount of attention that it got.”
Rihanna recalls her childhood and reveals to Anjali Rao how she caught her father doing drugs in the kitchen. Although she didn’t know what drugs were, she credits her mother for ensuring her daughter immediately knew it was wrong. “I just remember that that made me know it was wrong. She just- every time she saw this specific thing- the foil and the ashtray- she just would go off and they separated several times because of it, and eventually it ruined their marriage you know, she was just like ‘you’re either gonna kick that drug habit and see your kids, or you’re not gonna see your kids at all, cause they can’t see you like that.’”
Her all-important break into the industry came through meeting Hip Hop superstar Jay-Z, a meeting as exciting as it was daunting: “I’m gonna see Jay-Z. I’m gonna see Jay-Z!’ I could not believe it. And not only that, there was the pressure of that fact that it was the audition of my life…You know it was do or die,..”
On musical collaborations with some of the biggest names in music and who intimidates her most, she mentions: “I would say the person I was intimidated by the most was Bono. Working with him, I couldn’t believe it was happening. That was something that I just put on a pedestal like it would never happen, or if it did happen, it would take a very long time until I was worthy of being on a record with Bono.”
For the girl from Barbados whose family still call “RiRi” back home, who’s still waiting for that opportunity dream duet with Depeche Mode and Kings of Leon, says her next steps musically – speaking has to be: “something that’s really coming from me. It doesn’t have to be sad, it probably won’t be as dark because I don’t want to experience that time ever again.