It's not exactly a day in the sun putting out the catchiest single of the spring. In fact, having every block on your calendar filled with interviews, video shoots, photo shoots, TV appearances and touring might be enough to drive a young pop star to exhaustion. But for Rihanna, the Barbados- born beauty whose hit “S.O.S.” is shaping up to be this year’s Hollaback-sized anthem, it’s all about taking each day in stride.
“I was actually still on tour promoting the first album while recording and getting the second one done,” she laughs while getting her hair primped for yet another photo shoot. “Then I’ll be on to promoting the second one. It hasn’t stopped.”
She even kept busy recently on her eighteenth birthday by performing “S.O.S.”, which borrows heavily from the ’80s classic “Tainted Love,” on Ellen. “Well, kind of,” she says. “I was actually shooting my video on that day. But the Ellen show aired on my birthday. I love her! She got me a candle.”
Two years ago, Rihanna’s hectic days as a recording artist were still only a dream. She was living the simple life of a high school student in the Caribbean parish of St. Michael, Barbados. Through a mutual acquaintance, a chance meeting occurred between Rihanna and in-demand American producer Evan Rogers, whose wife is also from the island. Impressed by her singing ability, Rogers and his partner Carl Sturken got the young diva into their studio and began cutting a demo.
“We sent it to a few labels, and Def Jam was the first one to call back,” she reflects. “When I first met Jay-Z, I was so nervous. I was in the hall shaking! But after I met him, he was one of the coolest people I’d ever met in my entire life. After I got the deal, I moved [to the U.S.] because I figured it would be much easier.” The resulting album, Music Of The Sun, found her R&B-tinged dancehall number “Pon de Replay” becoming a breezy summer hit last year, and the singer was brought in as a supporting act on Gwen Stefani’s tour.
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But it’s her second album, A Girl Like Me, that could very well break her into household-name territory. It doesn’t hurt that “S.O.S.” was chosen as the theme for Nike’s new women’s line campaign. “I love the song,” the singer exclaims. “When I first heard it, I was like, ‘I have to record it as soon as possible!’ We took [producer] Jason Rotem into the studio and we recorded it, then sent it back to the label and they loved it!”
But while being a successful singer might get you lucrative endorsement deals—she also just signed on as the new face of JC Penney’s Miss Bisou clothing line—it probably doesn’t leave much time for all-important teeny-bopper rituals like dating. “I do have time,” Rihanna insists. “I just don’t have a boyfriend right now.” She does, however, admit that since she’s been living in Connecticut, there are a few things she misses from home: “My family, my friends—and the food! The closest place to good Barbadian food I’ve eaten here is in Brooklyn.“
With her hair now perfectly coiffed, it’s almost time for Rihanna to be whisked away to the set of today’s shoot. Before she goes, she makes sure to mention the women who inspire her the most. “I actually got to meet Beyoncé,” she beams. “She’s so beautiful. And, Mariah Carey I love. But, my mother, most definitely!”
With that, Rihanna disappears off to another long day of work as a singer on the rise.
Robbie Daw dishes out pop music news and sass daily on his site Chart Rigger. Rihanna’s new album, A Girl Like Me, is out now on Def Jam.