Credit Rihanna for knowing who she is - and what she isn’t - as befits a sexually frank pop star often photographed on yachts, happily partaking in either an enormous joint or a cocktail.
Witness the eight-time Grammy Award winner’s response to a 2013 article in England’s Daily Mail newspaper. It ripped into the Barbados-born singer, under the withering headline: “Pop’s poisonous princess: Glorying in drugs, guns and sleaze, Rihanna’s toxic role model for her army of young fans.”
Rihanna, with Travis Scott
When: 7:30 p.m. Monday
Where: Viejas at Aztec Bowl, 5500 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego State University
Tickets: $37-$165, plus service charges
Phone: (800) 745-2000
RiRi, who performs Monday at San Diego State University’s Viejas Arena, was quick to issue an online response.
“‘Role Model’ is not a position or title that I have ever campaigned for, so chill wit dat!” she wrote. “I got my own (expletive) (stuff) to work on...”
Asked last fall why she was disinclined to do a duet with Taylor Swift during Swift’s then-ongoing “1989" tour, Rihanna said: “I don’t think our brands are the same. I don’t think they match, I don’t think our audiences are the same. In my mind she’s a role model, I’m not.”
Not a role model, then, but a very shrewd businesswoman - with a wicked sense of humor. (Rihanna’s claim that her ridiculously gory 2015 music video “Bitch Better Have My Money” was “a piece of art” still inspires guffaws galore.)
Her portfolio includes her Perfumes by Rihanna line, which last year netted an estimated $75 million, and Fr8me, her hair, makeup and styling agency. Coming next year is Fenly Beauty, her comprehensive makeup line.
As for Rihanna’s music, she’s now on tour in support of her eighth album, the wildly erratic “Anti.” On it, she sounds detached one moment, revealing the next - although with a skilled media manipulator and master of image like Rihanna, the two often blur.
Ultimately, she sounds like she’s chafing against the commercial and artistic restrictions of being a sexy pop star - hence, presumably, the title “Anti.” Alas, she does so without demonstrating enough moxie to truly rebel against, or subvert, those restrictions.
If so, expect Rihanna to engage in an intriguing tug-of-war - onstage, with herself - when she performs here Monday.