RIRI

Rihanna’s Top-Secret Album Has Been on Its Way for More Than a Year

She and Roc Nation have simply been searching for 10 perfect dancehall demos—and selecting 500 records to choose them from.


Photographs by Steven Klein, styled by Edward Enninful; W Magazine September 2016.

Rihanna hasn’t been exactly doing nothing. Between developing her own lingerie line, starring in Ocean’s 8 alongside an all-star crew including Sarah Paulson and Anne Hathaway, keeping the hype alive for Fenty Beauty, going steady with her billionaire boyfriend, and, you know, casually meeting with world leaders, Rihanna has in fact been going nonstop lately—so nonstop that it feels a bit cruel to dwell on the fact that releasing new music seems to have gotten lost somewhere in that expansive mix.

To be fair, Rihanna released her most recent album, Anti, in 2016, but it was so good that it seemed cruel for her to not provide the world with more. (Many of her fans, for example, have been coping by basically auto-replying to each of her posts about her achievements in other arenas with something along the lines of Congratulations, but please don’t forget about your music.)

To that end, there could be no story more welcome than the one that Rolling Stone published on Thursday morning, with the headline “Inside Rihanna’s Upcoming Dancehall Album.” Rihanna, of course, hasn’t forgotten about her music; in May, in fact, she mentioned plans to make a reggae album in her Vogue cover story. Now, according to eight sources that Rolling Stone says are working on the project, Rihanna and her label, Roc Nation, have been slowly but surely working to make that a reality for more than a year, along with another album that’s a bit more pop-friendly, if two more sources are to be believed.)

Rihanna: Baddest Bitch of the Post-Apocalypse in W’s September Cover

Cartier tiara, earrings, and necklace; Rihanna’s own cuff earring and chain necklace (throughout). Hair by Yusef for Leonor Greyl Hair Care at Factory Downtown; makeup and tattoos by Pat McGrath Labs; manicures by Maria Salandra for Chanel at Fr8me.com. Set design by Stefan Beckman at Exposure NY.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Rihanna wears a Gareth Pugh coat and headpiece; Bordelle bra, harness, and briefs; Mugler Archive arm piece; Lynn Ban rings (right hand, throughout); Manolo Blahnik boots. On models, from left (throughout): Craig Green trousers; Chrishabana mouthpiece; Patrick Ian Hartley collar; Una Burke Leather arm brace. Hood by Air pants; Ben-Amun by Isaac Manevitz necklaces; model’s own sunglasses and ring. Hood by Air shorts; Falconiere mask; (from top) Jennifer Fisher necklace, Chrome Hearts necklace; Rob Goodwin shoulder harness; Una Burke Leather arm brace. Rothco boots (on all models).

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Maison Margiela Haute Couture created by John Galliano especially for Rihanna cape; Jennifer Fisher earrings; Rachel Freire neck piece; Fannie Schiavoni bustier; Prada belt, Key chains, agenda, and boots; (left hand) Fallon rings; her own harness.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Loewe dress, corset, and cuffs (left wrist); Jennifer Fisher earrings; Jennifer Fisher x Net-A-Porter choker; (right wrist, from top) Nina Runsdorf bracelet, Loewe cuffs; (left hand) Jovana Djuric rings; Christopher Kane mesh sack.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Prada jacket, corsets, belt, key chains, keys, charms, agenda, tights, backpack, bag, furs, and boots; Cartier necklace; Jennifer Fisher hoop earring (worn as belt charm, top right); Jovana Djuric pendant necklace (worn as belt charm, bottom, middle). Beauty note: Make a bold statement with givenchy Le rouge lipstick in heroic red.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Fenty Puma by Rihanna jacket, corset, and pants; Cartier necklace; Maison Margiela boots. On model, left: Hood by Air pants; General Eyewear goggles; Alexander Wang belt (around neck); Lost Art necklaces (on arm); Rachel Freire belt; models’s own earrings.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Hood by Air Atelier dress; E.L.F Zhou London bodysuit; Jennifer Fisher body chain; (left hand) Chrishabana rings; David Samuel Menkes Custom Leatherwear vintage boots.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Dior peacoat and sunglasses; Marina Hoermanseder body piece; Prada backpack, bag (attached to backpack), furs, agenda, belt, key chains, keys, and charms; Vetements boots. On Model, left: Lauren Klassen necklace (worn as bracelet).

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Rihanna wears Proenza Schouler dress; Jennifer Fisher earrings; Manuel Albarran face plate, bra, and leg pieces; Lynn Ban finger rings. On model: Hood by Air shorts; Falconiere mask; (from top) Jennifer Fishernecklace, Chrome Hearts necklace; Una Burke Leather arm brace; Rothko boots.

Producers: Anastasia Suchkov and Marcus Ward for North Six Productions; Digital Technician: Tadaaki Shibuya; Photography Assistants: Alex Lockett, Mark Luckasavage, Austin Kennedy, Tim Shin, Willy Ward, Adam Kaniowski; Fashion Assistants: Ryann Foulke, Dena Giannini; Hair Assistant: Naphia White; Set Design Assistants: Michael O’Connor, Yoni Zonszein, Nick Kozmin, Jamen Whitelock; Production Assistants: Manuel Somoza, Ryan Blythe, Stephen Hutchinson; special thanks to pier 59 studios

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful

Cartier tiara, earrings, and necklace.

Rihanna’s hair by Yusef for Leonor Greyl Hair Care at Factory Downtown; male models’ hair by Amy Farid for Bumble and bumble at Kate Ryan Inc.; makeup and tattoos by Pat McGrath Labs; manicures by Maria Salandra for Chanel at Fr8me.com. Set design by Stefan Beckman at Exposure NY. Models: Deion Smith at Red model management; Chucky (aka Byron), Hirakish, and Sunny.

Photographs by Steven Klein, Styled by Edward Enninful
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If you’re wondering what exactly they’ve all been up to for all those months, the answer is, apparently, quite a lot. One dancehall producer, who’s reportedly been flying between the coasts “nonstop” to cut records for RiRi, said that although the final number of tracks that will feature on the album will be just 10, her team’s quest to select only the best possible has seen them gather, so far, “no lie, 500 records” from which to choose—a process that has also apparently included “having writing camps and trying to keep them quiet for almost a year and a half now.”

As for what’s to come, it seems that Rihanna is embracing the dancehall reggae sound she experimented with (at first unintentionally) on her last album through songs like “Work,” which featured the Caribbean-Canadian artist PartyNextDoor singing in patois. According to Rolling Stone, she’s “already corralled a large number of demos from top-tier Jamaican talent.” Another source even went further, saying that “every artist, every producer, every songwriter in Jamaica or of Jamaican descent has been working on [the album] and has little snippets of publishing or production credits on it.”

If the rumors are true, only one or two more songs remain out there to be found. And if you can’t get over the fact that there’s still no hint at a release date, just keep an eye on her Instagram comments—and keep reminding yourself that one or two is a lot less than 10.

Related: Rihanna Has A Perfectly Reasonable Explanation For Always Stealing Wineglasses From Restaurants

Rihanna Is the Ultimate Fashion Icon

The rising star arrived at the Baby Phat Spring 2006 fashion show in a baby doll-style sundress with lots of eyeliner and nude-pink glossed lips.

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Wearing baggy jeans and a crop halter top, Rihanna was cute and sporty at Z100’s Jingle Ball.

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Rihanna went for the glamorous, diva look at the Conde Nast 3rd Annual Fashion Rocks Concert in a metallic Zac Posen gown.

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Rihanna sparkled in a white, Marilyn Monroe-inspired dress after winning Best Female Artist of the Year at the 2006 Billboard Music Awards.

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Rihanna donned a daring new asymmetrical bob and a neon pink, mermaid-style gown at the MTV Video Music Awards.

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Rihanna visited TRL at MTV’s Studios in Times Square in a strapless bustier top, flared jeans and a knit beanie.

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Rihanna was edgy and fun at the Nickelodeon’s 2008 Kids’ Choice Awards thanks to a new pixie cut and pink polka dot bustier top.

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The singer played with color at the 2008 BET awards in a neon yellow Giambattista Valli gown and a playful purple lip.

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Rihanna’s short, cropped hairstyle gave a little edge to her Jasmine di Millo ruffled dress at the RIAA and Feeding America’s Inauguration Charity Ball.

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Rihanna went for the men’s wear look in a Dolce & Gabbana tux with ’80s-inspired shoulders to the ‘The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion’ Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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Newly blonde, Rihanna arrived at the 52nd Annual GRAMMY Awards in a ruffled Victorian-inspired Elie Saab Haute Couture gown.

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Rihanna attended the Echo Award 2010 in a geometric high-fashion Alexander Vautiher bat-cap jumpsuit with serious shoulder pads.

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Rihanna switched up her hairstyle–yet again. This time opting for a cherry red, voluminous curls.

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Continuing her love affair with scarlet, Rihanna attended the ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty’ Costume Institute Gala at The Metropolitan Museum of Art rocking a long, red French braid, rimmed eye make-up and maroon lip that perfectly coordinated with her sheer, embellished gown.

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The singer looked effortlessly chic at the Stella McCartney presentation during London Fashion Week in a green silk slip dress, courtesy of the designer, with sun-kissed blonde shoulder-length hair.

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Rihanna arrived to the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards in a backless white Adam Selman dress debuting, of course, a new cropped hairstyle.

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The singer turned heads at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards in a gorgeous sheer gown by Azzedine Alaia.

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In a sexy Jean Paul Gaultier couture two-piece and coordinating head wrap, Rihanna was completely seductive at the 2013 American Music Awards.

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Rihanna attended the ‘Charles James: Beyond Fashion’ Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a Stella McCartney two-piece dress that showed off her perfectly toned stomach.

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Rihanna in custom Adam Selman at the CFDA awards.

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Rihanna showed some skin in a Tom Ford gown at the 2014 amfAR LA Inspiration Gala. Her ponytail, long lashes and bright orange lip upped the overall glam factor of the look.

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Pretty in pink. The singer filmed an episode of ‘Good Morning America’ in a Pascal Millet jumpsuit, blazer and faux fur stole.

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Rihanna attends the ‘China: Through The Looking Glass’ Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in a yellow couture gown from Chinese designer Guo Pei.

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Rihanna looked gothic chic in a look of her own design during the FENTY PUMA by Rihanna Fall 2016 show at New York Fashion Week.

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Showing off her killer body yet again, the singer attended the 2016 MusiCares Person of the Year event in a sheer, embellished gown and pointy-toed converse-inspired sneakers, both by Marc Jacobs.

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Rihanna in Dior.

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Rihanna in Altuzarra.

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Rihanna in Kiko Mizuhara for Opening Ceremony.

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Rihanna in Giambattista Valli couture.

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Rihanna in Vivienne Westwood Red Label.

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