After the seven-day, seven-country tour, I fall somewhere in the middle (considering I'm currently recovering from a state of delusion, agitation and sleep deprivation).
As the majority of the #rihannaplane ride or die passengers stood watching Rihanna's final 777 show on Tuesday (Nov. 20) at Webster Hall in New York, we fell into a trance, specifically during "Stay." How can you not love her? Rihanna's touring schedule has been strenuous, yet minor technical and sound difficulties aside, she's performed seven concerts in seven days, with the stamina of a horse.
The cheers only grew louder with each show, New York City being the most unforgettable. As Jay-Z sat alongside her manager Jay Brown in VIP, Rihanna strutted across the stage, in an oversized button-down white shirt, singing with such ease as if she hadn't performed seven times prior.
But is that all someone -- a fan or media member -- wants to know when one, who has a platform to share experiences as such, is given the amazing opportunity to follow a pop star around for seven days? On a tour that hits Mexico, Toronto, Stockholm, Paris, Berlin, London and New York, during the hectic week before your seventh studio album, "Unapologetic," debuts?
As journalists, on assignment, you find a story no matter the circumstances or accessibility. You document on what is occurring even if what is occurring is nothing. This is why, as the days progressed and Rihanna was one of the things that wasn't accessible -- which she later apologized for -- we ended up writing about how the touring life was affecting us, while going mad as the days continued, or meshed together if you were us.
I didn't embark on this tour to see how I lived through some gruesome experience. Nor did I embark on this tour with the expectations to interview Rihanna or have play-date time with her, even when Def Jam did tell media that there would be on-board press conferences throughout. I embarked on this tour to see how Rihanna not only lived through such touring schedule but strived -- because surely she would, or why even bring us on board to document it?
Amongst us there were some that may have came off unappreciative for complaining about the quality of the food or WIFI accessibility on the flights. But there were others that touched on such through sarcasm because, welp, we were in the dark on everything related to Rihanna. We had each other's humor to keep ourselves collectively sane, after all.
Details as to what to expect on this trip, or even trip as a whole, were scarce. But the problem is that the details that were given didn't match up to what was occurring, or what wasn't occurring. We were experiencing the touring life of an artist, without the artist.
Whether it was Rihanna's job or not to pander to our expectations, it didn't feel fair to bring 200+ people on board, especially if it was allegedly her idea, for such a touring experience and not be present. She didn't really need to do anything, but she could have. When you're seeing a group of hundreds of people that includes your fans spiraling into delirium and frustration, why not try to turn it around or at least address it?
One minute a label rep is telling me "She loves the attention," the next they're saying "She knows there's a problem." Yet still, as predicted, we only see her interact during the first day (show time) and the finale. Apologetic? Very much so... to the fans at the shows she's late for. As for those on the plane? That came, as predicted, at closing.
Rihanna didn't come off as a bitch, she came off as a brat.
While on the trip, when media stopped caring about data roaming costs, two stories about Rihanna on this tour were shared amongst us. A photo of her topless in first class and one of her buying lingerie as soon as landing into Paris had surfaced. Is any of that wrong of her to do? Absolutely not. Do you, baby girl. But also acknowledge the fact that you have yet to feed the animals with first-hand content, especially if this content was proposed and even penned into our schedule (soundcheck, dinners, and press conferences and more for fans, front row placement and less people on board).
"You're getting to see the package," my friend, freelance writer Steven Horowitz, told me while I was in Germany. "We're getting to see her without even seeing her," I responded.
We're partially to blame. It's not like Rihanna hasn't showed us how she is. It's the reason we are captivated by her: rebellious, unfiltered and nonchalant. The thing is, we now have felt the other side-effects of her personality. Putting her well-being first was needed; I can't get mad at that. But it was acknowledging the well-being of those others she, herself, thought to bring alone that was key.
The 777 tour was a risk; an experience bound to be exceptional or awful. It was both. On one hand, friendships were made through madness and we now know not to doubt our stamina. On the other hand, we unfortunately didn't get to know more about Rihanna than what we did before embarking on the tour. Either way, we survived the 777 tour, but nobody on that plane is planning to talk about this over Thanksgiving dinner.