While many know Rihanna by her harmonious R&B ballads and her tasteful fashion statements, what many don’t know about the multifaceted pop artist is her nationality and background.
Born in Barbados, her father is Barbadian and her mother is Guyanese. She grew up listening to reggae, R&B and hip hop. How does this impact us, though?
Rihanna’s hip hop and reggae infusion has reshaped the format for all of R&B music to come. It’s the reason we hear more off-beats in the rhythms and exotic instruments being incorporated. Futhermore, we also see a multicultural trend establishing in any artistic community. This style is embraced the same way Rihanna has been adored by many.
HOW DID RIHANNA BECOME FAMOUS?
Rihanna decided to establish an all-girls singing group in high school. They would perform in many places, including along the Barbadian beach pier. One day, U.S. record producer Evan Rogers witnessed Rihanna’s talents during a visit with his Barbadian wife.
As a result, he introduced Rihanna to top-of-the-line artists including Jay-Z and gave her a record deal. It was expected that this now immigrant and adult Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) would incorporate her own flare into her music.
Her first demo, “Pon De Replay,” marked a turning point. This song is a great example of her cultural fluidity: The title means “play it again” in the Barbadian native language, Bajan Creole. She used reggae elements including drum line-ups, bass guitar riffs and a hip shaking rhythm. However, it also included English lyrics, rapping and a recurring shoutout to a “Mr. DJ.”
HOW DOES SHE GIVE BACK TO HER COUNTRY?
Rihanna grew up in a humble bungalow till the ripe age of 16 in Bridgetown, Barbados. The small island country relies heavily on tourism for income. That bungalow nowadays marks one of the top sites for visitation, benefiting the local economy.
While Barbados is a well-functioning third world country, Rihanna does her part to support charitable efforts in the island nation. As the artist claims in multiple interviews, “Growing up in Barbados, school was a grind. But I was lucky.”
Rihanna works to fight against poor education, poverty and sexist policies in her homeland. On top of this, she often raises funds and awareness whenever a natural disaster hits any of the Caribbean countries.
“I want to be part of a solution that works,” Rihanna says. She is an ambassador for the Global Partnership for Education. She also has provided many more efforts to nonprofits in her community, ambassador programs and financial relief efforts.
In 2021, Rihanna was honored as National Hero of Barbados.