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Rihanna’s Successful Cultural Fluidity in her Music from Embracing her Foreign Dialect

The Battleship Premiere Featuring Rihanna

 It is more than obvious that today’s music plays a major role in cultural fluidity. Rihanna is one of many artists whose music speaks to various cultures while bringing them together.

Rihanna’s Background  

Rihanna a son concert a paris bercy.
Rihanna a son concert a paris bercy. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Pop star Rihanna was born on Feb. 20, 1988 on the Caribbean island of Barbados. Rihanna turned to singing and music as a her release. A release from the struggles that she went through at home. She was 16 years old when she left Barbados and moved in with the man that discovered her: Evan Rogers. This was to work on recording her first demo in the United States. Rihanna had to learn to adopt an American accent to fit within the lines of main stream pop due to her immigrant status.

”I’ve had to learn how to adjust my accent a bit for the sake of interviews and business conversations.”

Rihanna 2012, The Celeb Factory

However, this did not keep Rihanna from staying true to her heritage by presenting where she comes from through her music.

Fluidity in her Music

One of her most popular songs is the hit “Work” featuring Drake. Some may think that in this song she speaks “gibberish.” Specifically in the chorus and that these lyrics just go with the melody. However, she is actually speaking in dialect. This dialect is known as Jamaican Patois. This dialect is English-based but is influenced by West Africa. It is used all throughout the Caribbean including Barbados where she grew up. She swiftly moves between English and Patois in this song creating a Caribbean feel to her English speaking audience. In an Interview with Lauren Gale, a student at Colorado State University. She says “ I had no idea that Rihanna was speaking in dialect in the song “Work.” I always thought that it was just gibberish that she felt went with the melody. It was catchy so I just sang along.”

Rihanna performing at Kollenfest 2012.
Rihanna performing at Kollenfest 2012. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Along with her song “Man Down,” Rihanna continues to incorporate her Caribbean culture to the music that she produces. Joining the two different cultures together by applying her cultural fluidity to her music. It is bringing people together all over the world. Her beats and sound may seem very catchy; however they hold substantial emotion and tribute to her home country and her roots. In an interview with Mariah Espinoza, a major fan of Rihanna she says,

“I always knew that a lot of Rihanna‘s music derives from where she comes from. Never really realized that in her music she does a lot of dialect from her native tongue. It’s amazing that she can appeal to both cultures through her music by just being herself.

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