With over 200 million records sold worldwide and eight Grammy Awards, Rihanna has become one of the biggest pop stars of the 21st century. On the eve of the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, where she’ll receive the prestigious Video Vanguard Award, we take a look back at her career.
Rihanna was discovered in Barbados by U.S. record producer Evan Rogers.
After impressing Jay Z with her musical skill, she signed a six-album deal with Def Jam Recordings in 2004. Jay Z would become one of her most successful collaborators.
Rihanna’s debut single “Pon de Replay” was an international hit and reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 chart in 2005.
“SOS,” from her second studio album, “A Girl like Me,” became her first single to top the Hot 100 chart.
Career highs and lows
Her career surged in 2007 with “Umbrella,” her hit duet with Jay Z. It won a Grammy for best rap/sung collaboration.
Since then, she’s given us such hits as “Rude Boy,” “Only Girl (In the World),” “S & M,” “We Found Love,” “Diamonds” and “Stay.”
Rihanna’s troubled romance with singer Chris Brown thrust her personal life into the public eye in 2009, when Brown was charged with physically assaulting Rihanna. Brown accepted a plea deal and was sentenced to community labor, domestic violence counseling, and five years of probation. The much-publicized incident threatened to overshadow Rihanna’s career. The two have since worked together on several songs and remixes, and Rihanna has addressed the incident in songs and interviews.
Rihanna frequently works with some of the biggest names in music. “Run This Town,” her song with Jay Z and Kanye West, won best rap song and best rap/sung collaboration at the 2010 Grammys.She also joined U2’s Bono and the Edge in performing the song “Stranded (Haiti Mon Amour)” to benefit victims of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.
She also appeared on Kanye West’s “All of the Lights” alongside Fergie and Kid Cudi, which earned two Grammys in 2012.
2015 saw the release of her single “FourFiveSeconds,” which featured Kanye West and former Beatle Paul McCartney.
She teamed with rapper Drake for two of her biggest recent hits, “What’s My Name?” and “Work.”
One of Rihanna’s most successful ongoing collaborations has been with rapper Eminem. They’ve paired for the hits “Monster” and “Love the Way You Lie,” toured together, and performed at the 2014 Grammy Awards.
Beyond the hits
Outside of music, Rihanna has appeared in several movies and TV shows. She made her feature film debut in the 2012 action movie “Battleship,” which earned her a Teen Choice Award. She’ll soon be seen in the TV series “Bates Motel.”
Rihanna is also a fashion icon, often making a splash on the red carpet with revealing looks and striking designer gowns. She also serves as the creative director of the designer sock company Stance.
The 2016 MTV Video Music Awards honored Rihanna with the Video Vanguard Award, a trophy previously given to such innovators as David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Madonna and Kanye West.