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Vixen Vent: Step It Up, Rihanna

How does one find inspiration to push yourself harder when you’ve already proven that you could seemingly give half the effort and achieve maximum success all the same? In the case of Rihanna, she could retire at the age of 26 and still go on to be rightfully hailed as one of the most successful recording artists in history. That would probably make Mariah Carey – who will likely have to relinquish bragging rights for the most number one singles on Billboard’s singles charts besides The Beatles to Rihanna sooner than later – very happy, though the chances of Rihanna retiring are as probable as Cassie getting a co-sign from Aretha Franklin.

Yes, in the race for pop culture dominance, Rihanna could grab a chair, order three rounds of drinks and still zoom past all but one of her peers to the finish line. That reality is a testament to her ability to capitalize on the visual, and more importantly, the growing importance of likability thanks to the rise of social media and celebrity culture, as well as one other little attribute about Rihanna that all too often is ignored: The woman has a great ear for music.

Nevertheless, as we wait for Rihanna’s eighth studio album, I wonder where the pop star takes her career in the next few years. No matter how entertaining and captivating she is, the “DGAF attitude” she’s praised for might also prove to be her Achilles heel.

I am a Rihanna fan, but if there’s any legitimate complaint to be made about her, it’s the lassiez faire attitude she continues to have about singing and performing. Rihanna certainly has her moments of excellence – her rendition of “Stay” on SNL or her 2010 America Music Awards performances instantly come to mind – but they are typically far and in between. Some people excuse this and it’s a shame I don’t have the power to issue cease and desist letter.

In the essay, “Confessions of a Beyoncé Dissident,” Ian Russell writes, “Of Mrs. Carter's peers, Rihanna pops to mind as a performer who, though certainly lacking Beyoncé's voice, suddenly becomes likable for her DGAF attitude.”

Photo Credit(s): Getty Images

Uh, perhaps for a few, but there’s a reason why Beyoncé can sell out a world tour without a new album while her contemporaries are lucky to do that (or come close enough) with new music and a gang of hit singles already amassed under their belt. More importantly, people may like you now, but what’s going to happen in the next decade or two when Rihanna is on a downswing?

As much as people harped on Jennifer Lopez’s less than stellar first-week sales of her latest album, AKA, J. Lo, who turns 45 this year, continues to out-dance women half her age – including Rihanna. That makes it easier for her to continue being booked to perform at major award shows and managing to fill up venues post-peak of her musical career.

It’s not that Rihanna isn’t capable of stepping it up; only she barely elects to do so. Such is her right, but pop music is not kind to aging women (and it is unfair), and as J. Lo rightly pointed out in a recent interview, she and Mariah Carey have already built a fan base. So has Rihanna, but will The Navy still be willing to see that same old lethargic two-step and so-so vocal depending on the day 20 years from now? Or even five, when there’s sure to be some other slick-mouthed pop star, who unlike Miley Cyrus, might manage to properly copy RiRi’s style.

None of this is a condemnation of Rihanna. It’s just that when you know someone is capable of doing more than what they’re presently giving, you want them to tap more into that. And when you consider the people Rihanna professes to admire – Beyoncé and Madonna – you wonder whether or not she’ll match or exceed them beyond racking up hits.

The likes of Wendy Williams may dismiss Rihanna as someone you smash and take penicillin afterwards, I’d love to see her explore her sexuality the way Madonna did with Erotica. Speaking of, if there’s an artist who could offer the 2010s answer to Madge’s excellent Truth or Dare documentary, it’s Rihanna. There are so many layers to her, given her background as the child of an addict and the ex-girlfriend of an abuser. I’m curious to see what Rihanna thinks besides the snark and shade she delivers superbly on Twitter.

Of course, she could continue to be on the path that she’s on, drop more hits crafted by the hitmakers of the moment, and sell out shows for the next few years all over and remain the poster child of not giving a fuck. Yet, giving a shit tends to make you better. I hope she and her enablers realize that in due time.

 Michael Arceneaux

 

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SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

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Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)

 

READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

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Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

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