Rihanna has been running at a dead sprint since she was a teenager. So now, after celebrating her 30th birthday in February and releasing 8 best-selling albums in 11 years, she’s realized that it’s a good time to take a beat and look around to assess things. “Even mentally, just to be away from my phone, to be in the moment, that has been key for my growth,” the singer tells Vogue magazine in a wide-ranging cover story in which she talks about slowing down, focusing on her Fenty fashion line, her complicated relationship with Drake and trying to find a better work-life balance.
“Now, when I come to work, I’m all in,” she says. “Because before you know it, the years will go by. I’m glad I’m taking the time. I’m happy.” Since releasing her Anti album in January 2016 and wrapping the global tour for 11 months later RihRih has been uncharacteristically under-the-radar. Her low-key 2017 bled into a blip of recent activity to tease her upcoming Savage X Fenty lingerie line, and in the Vogue chat the singer makes it clear that she’s relishing some well-deserved Rih time.
“I used to feel guilty about taking personal time,” Rihanna says, confirming she’s in a relationship but not naming her partner. “But I also think I never met someone who was worth it before.” The magazine noted speculation that the man in question is young Saudi businessman Hassan Jameel, who was reportedly spotted in paparazzi pics with her in Spain last summer. Now based mostly in Los Angeles and London, Rihanna may be a jet-setter, but her anxieties are just like those of many women her age. “OK, so now that I’m 30, are there things I’m supposed to do? Should I be worried? Should I be freezing my eggs? What do you do at 30!?!”
The best news for fans, though, is that she’s hard at work on her upcoming ninth release, which she hints will be a reggae album. It’s too early to talk collaborators, but one of the early influences on the sessions is Jamaican-born producer Supa Dups, who has worked with such stars as Beenie Man, Sean Paul and Elephant Man.
Though she’s stopping to smell the roses more, Rihanna is clearly gearing up for a super-busy 2018, with her role as hacker Nine Ball in this month’s all-star Ocean’s 8, the successful $100 million-plus launch of her Fenty Beauty make-up line last fall and the May 11 Savage X Fenty launch. And, similar to the conversation she started by offering a wider range of foundations for darker skin tones with the Beauty line, Rihanna is proud that Savage X is expanding the notion of what “nude” means in the world of lingerie, while also embracing body positivity.
“You’ve just got to laugh at yourself, honestly. I mean, I know when I’m having a fat day and when I’ve lost weight. I accept all of the bodies,” she says of body-shaming trolls who have commented on some of her Instagram pictures. “I’m not built like a Victoria’s Secret girl, and I still feel very beautiful and confident in my lingerie.” She says Savage is “really about taking complete ownership of how you feel and the choices you make. Basically making sure everybody knows the ball is in your court.”
One subject that seemed to strike a nerve was her relationship with Drake. When Drizzy’s name is mentioned by the interviewer the singer “winces slightly” before her eyes “glaze over with cool indifference.” The “God’s Plan” rapper famously took out a billboard in Los Angeles congratulating RihRih on her 2016 MTV Video Vanguard award and professed his love to her while presenting it, something that appeared to uncharacteristically throw her off.
“The VMAs is such a fan-focused awards show, so having that energy around me, and knowing the people who had received the award in the past, made it feel like a big deal,” she tells the magazine. “Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don’t like too many compliments; I don’t like to be put on blast.” As for the current state of their friendship with Drake, well, it’s complicated. “We don’t have a friendship now, but we’re not enemies either. It is what it is.”
To read the full interview, click here.