Rihanna: 23 Things About Bad Gal Riri For Every Fan

Rihanna can easily be called one of the most famous women in the world, seeing that she's been the subject of magazine and news stories for well over a decade. But that doesn't mean that everything is known about the pop star. Yes, it's been documented time and again that she's from Barbados. Rihanna's relationships have also been discussed heavily, namely the union she had with her former beau Chris Brown, who was charged with felony assault for striking her in 2009. Plus, Riri's name has been everywhere after revealing that she and her boyfriend A$AP Rocky are expecting their second child together.

Still, though, there are plenty of things that people don't know about the "Only Girl" singer. But being the good folks that we are here at Nicki Swift, we've gathered some of that information so you don't have to go searching all over the place. In this one, we hopped around Rihanna's career a bit and started at the beginning. Some of the info has to do with her professional life, other parts her personal life, and we also got into how extravagantly she lives. All set? If so, then here it is: The untold truth of Rihanna.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Rihanna dealt with her dad's addiction

In July 2011, jazz singer turned pop star Amy Winehouse died of alcohol poisoning. Before that, her battle with drug and alcohol addiction was covered almost daily in the press, and it's something that Rihanna was asked about during an interview with the Mirror. The Bajan singer said that she knows how difficult it can be for someone to store up victories against their addiction, since she saw her father Ronald Fenty struggle with substance abuse during her childhood.

"Amy clearly has a problem and it's very difficult to get over, and I should know," said Rihanna in that 2007 interview. She added, "Drugs are powerful things and they take over your whole world ... Even as a toddler, I learned that my mom and dad would argue when there was foil paper in the ashtray." 

Those fights led to a divorce between her parents by the time Rihanna was 14 years old. Then, after her singing career took off, she footed the bill for her dad to go to a Malibu rehab facility for alcohol. As for Winehouse, Rihanna tweeted about her death, like many others did, writing, "Dear God have mercy!!! I am SICK about this right now!" She also tweeted, "U made a MAJAH impression on this industry and throughout the world, in such a short space of time ... too short!"

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

She suffered from terrible headaches

Sadly, Rihanna's childhood was filled with a lot of potholes that were dug by her father Ronald Fenty's drug addiction. In a 2011 Rolling Stone interview, the "Umbrella" singer said her father used to physically abuse her mother, Monica Braithwaite, and things got so bad in the Fenty household, Rihanna's health was affected.

"She had always been a straight-A student, but she started to struggle," her mother said in that interview. "She would suffer from these terrible headaches. She had to get CT scans." The outlet noted that doctors wondered if a tumor was the cause.

But after her parents parted ways for good, so did Rihanna's headaches, which shows they were directly related to the marital problems and abuse that existed. Rihanna and her father kept in contact after the divorce, although sometimes they were estranged. In a 2011 Vogue interview, Rihanna accused her dad of telling lies about her to the press and getting paid for it. She also sued her father in 2019 for trying to capitalize off her Fenty brand name after he started a company called Fenty Entertainment. 

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Rihanna dated a guy named Negus Sealy

If you were to read some of the social media comments after Rihanna shares a photo, you would see that a lot of guys shoot their shot and ask for a date. But there's one fellow named Negus Sealy whose shot landed square in the basket. This was way before the Grammy awards, tours, and pop fame that Rihanna achieved after they met in Barbados as teens. They had an instant connection that Sealy seems to still be affected by. In 2011, he spoke with the Daily Mail about Rihanna, and while he didn't say they were boyfriend and girlfriend, he knew their union was special.

"We were introduced by a mutual friend," he explained. "We shared the same sense of humor; she likes to laugh. I guess we pretty much took to each other's character and it was just cool ever since then." Sealy remembered, "We would just chill and have a good time. We go to the beach, party, just basic socializing. Then things would go from there." 

 Of course, Rihanna's dating life would get a lot more attention after Sealy, as her relationships with people like Chris Brown, businessman Hassan Jameel, Major League Baseball player Matt Kemp, and A$AP Rocky were the source of much talk. Even the singer's one date with actor Shia LaBeouf that didn't go anywhere made headlines. As for Sealy, he still kept in contact with Rihanna after she became famous and hung out with her during her trips back to Barbados.

She used to be in a singing group

It happened when Pink auditioned for L.A. Reid. It also happened when Toni Braxton performed for Reid and his business partner Babyface for the first time. So what went down back then? Both ladies auditioned with their respective singing groups, but the label execs only wanted them for solo acts. The same thing happened to Rihanna as well, because when she and her group sang for famed music producer Evan Rogers, he only wanted to work with her.

"She had such a presence!" said Rogers, as told in John Seabrook's book "The Song Machine: Inside the Hit Factory." The producer worried to himself, "She probably can't sing, because usually it's the pretty one who can't." 

Evans was vacationing with his wife in Barbados at the time, and after the audition, he promised himself to keep in touch with the then-16-year-old Rihanna. That led to her moving in with the producer and his wife in their Stamford, Connecticut, home and recording her first hit, "Pon De Replay," in his New York studio. In 2020, Evans revisited that first meeting with Rihanna again and explained what he saw in her as she sang Beyoncé's "Dangerously in Love." "She was doing some of the really complicated Beyoncé runs and hitting some of them — not all of them — but there was something about her tone that really, really stuck out to me," he explained in a 2020 Vulture article.

Her debut album received lukewarm reviews

If one were to come up with a few terms to describe Rihanna, "hit-maker" could be used; so could "fashionista" and "businesswoman extraordinaire." Another one would be "critically acclaimed artist." However, that couldn't be said about the pop star in 2005 when she released her debut album, "Music of the Sun."

Sure, Rihanna's smash "Pon De Replay" is on the LP, but that didn't keep it from getting some tepid reviews. Rolling Stone, for instance, said it lacked "rhythmic ingenuity," and The New York Times implied that the album was too long and didn't have solid production throughout. "... Rihanna sounds a bit stranded when she doesn't have a beat to ride," wrote the reviewer. Slant also gave a mixed review, noting the album's "inconsistency" and "formulaic nature," but praising "the always refreshing touch of pop veterans" who produced it. 

Rihanna's follow-up album was 2006's "A Girl Like Me," which kept her name and face in music circles. But it wasn't until her third album, "Good Girl Gone Bad" in 2007, that she became an international star. And that has a lot do to with her Jay-Z-assisted smash "Umbrella," the album's very first song.

Rihanna is actually shy

Rihanna is known to exude envious levels of confidence whenever she's seen on stage or in interviews, and that's naturally the way she is, right? Wrong, because in 2016, Riri admitted in an interview that she gets extremely nervous before performing. The singer also said she's far from being extroverted, regardless of how it may seem from a distance. 

"I've always been shy," she told the Associated Press (via Sutton & Croydon Guardian). "And still you wouldn't believe, but still I get shy and awkward and [have] stage fright. I've always been that way ... When you realize that nothing is wrong, even if it's awkward ... you kind of just are okay."

In 2019, Rihanna spoke about her shyness again with actor Sarah Paulson for Interview magazine and said it's been a carefully guarded secret for some time. On top of that, Rihanna said the biggest misconception about her is that she's always comfortable around individuals and crowds, which is far from the case. "People don't know that I'm shy," she told Paulson. "People read me as being confident ... I don't even want you to know I'm shy."

She's uncomfortable with being a sex symbol

Many years ago, when Rihanna's career was really starting to flourish, she began leaning into a sex symbol image that was placed on her by fans and the media. It was most evident on her third LP, "Good Girl Gone Bad." But based on what Rihanna said in a 2011 interview, she doesn't care about being a sex symbol, and it's not even close to being one of her goals in life.

"Every time I hear that it's definitely flattering, but also uncomfortable," she told Fabulous Magazine. "That's not a priority on my list, being a sex symbol or being overly sexy. I'm just a normal woman. I don't really focus on being a sex symbol ... I think what my fans enjoy about me are my flaws and imperfections. The fact that I'm rebellious and do things my way motivates them to be individuals."

In 2011, Esquire named Rihanna "The Sexiest Woman Alive," which she spoke to Oprah Winfrey about. "I do not think about things like that," the "Man Down" singer stated. "That's not my goal, that's not something, like, 'Oh my gosh! I had a great achievement here with this title.'" So the next time you see a celebrity playing up their sex symbol image, there's a good chance it's not who that person truly is, and they would rather be viewed in an entirely different way.

Rihanna struggles with her billionaire status

In August 2021, Forbes wrote about Rihanna officially becoming a billionaire. She reached that status after getting a stronghold on the lingerie and cosmetic industries with her Fenty Beauty brand. But the "Diamonds" singer didn't immediately see herself as a billionaire, and at one point, she had to go through a process.

"It's tricky because it's hard to even accept that's where you're at because I know where I've come from," she told The New York Times. "At the same time, it feels good to be able to inspire young women and boys, who like me, come from humble beginnings, who come from parents who are immigrants or who are immigrants themselves, to be able to do this." But it's not just inspiration the Caribbean songbird gives people; she gives money, as well, assisting with the fight against COVID-19 in 2020 with a $5 million donation. She also involved herself in causes concerning social and climate justice through her Clara Lionel Foundation. 

But despite Rihanna's high level of altruism, even she has felt that it's not enough. "Every dollar I make, I want to give it back," she said in that New York Times interview. "When it comes to people who need help, it hurts when I can't do as much as I want, so now we're just putting our foot down and C.L.F. is about to grow in a way that I'm really proud of."

She changed her views on child-rearing

Rihanna went from a semi-famous teenage singer to a big, bright shining star. While she has grown as an artist, the busy mom has thought about her personal life, including her future family. In 2010, while discussing the possibility of having children, she talked about the importance of having a father in her child's life.

"I definitely think a child deserves both parents," said Rihanna while speaking with Kanye West for Interview. "It would be selfish of me because of my pride and independence, to say, 'Oh, I just want a sperm donor, because I can do it myself.' I can do it myself but that's not fair." However, the Barbadian beauty later changed her stance on children and family. 

In a 2020 interview with British Vogue, Rihanna said she'd raise her child as a single mother if the father isn't the right person to be with. "I feel like society makes me want to feel like, 'Oh, you got it wrong,'" she stated. "They diminish you as a mother if there's not a dad in your kids' lives. But the only thing that matters is happiness. That's the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child. That's the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love." 

Rihanna has a phobia of sea creatures

Rihanna once told the Mirror that even though her father Ronald Fenty struggled with drug addiction in her youth, she has fond memories of catching crabs with him on the beach. So, it may come as a shock that she's freaked out by sea animals, something she admitted to Blender in 2007 (via BBC).

"I'm super-scared of sea creatures, even tiny fish," Rihanna explained. "One time I was in the water — and the water in Barbados is so clear you can see your feet — I saw all these tiny fish swimming around my feet, and I had a panic attack. I just froze. This man had to lift me out of the water." 

 Of course, Barbados, where Rihanna is from, is an island, so the irony couldn't be more obvious. The equivalent would be someone from Idaho being deathly afraid of potatoes or someone from California hating the sunshine. But at some point, it seems Rihanna got over her fear, because in 2015, the Daily Mail shared a photo of her holding a large fish on a deep-sea fishing outing with some of her buddies in Hawaii.

Not a fan of social media

As of February 2023, Rihanna has over a 140 million Instagram followers and over 108 million Twitter followers, with both numbers constantly growing. So, it might be surprising that at one time she loathed social media entirely and refused to use it. "At first I didn't really use anything in the social network world," said Rihanna while speaking to Complex in 2013. "I was so anti-social network, which is kind of ironic. I actually first started on a chat room on my fan site."

Rihanna explained that she changed her opinion on social media after her fans didn't believe it was really her answering questions in the chat room. She then started to view Twitter as one "giant chat room that you can text," which made her okay with it.

But although Ms. Fenty warmed up to being a social media user, she never became a big fan of it, especially Instagram, based on what she told The New York Times in 2018. "[Instagram is] the death of trends," she opined. The star explained about social media: "I get that it helps the brand and it's a way of communicating your events and your new products to your fans and to the world ... There's a battle between what you genuinely want to share and what people care to know. I respect it, but, you know, I'm not going to put my every meal on it."

Rihanna went on a weed hiatus

Of course, it's not for everyone, but plenty of people have started using marijuana in their 20s, and Rihanna is no different. Throughout her career, the "Anti" creator has been seen toking on a weed-filled cigar on social media or in the press, sometimes using it as a prop and other times smoking with other celebs, like Snoop Dogg. The photos definitely contributed to Ri's "Good Girl Gone Bad" image, while also making her somewhat of a hero to the weed-smoking section of her fanbase.

But once Rihanna turned 26, she wanted to cut down on her marijuana intake or do away with it completely. "Simply put, she wants to be healthy and happy. She loves blowing fire but said she's going to drastically cut back or even quit smoking," said a source for HollywoodLife.com (via Independent.ie). 

Two years after that report, however, Rihanna was still smoking, and she rented out an entire floor of a hotel to do it. She was in Jacksonville, Florida, at the time on her "Anti World Tour" and didn't want to bother other hotel guests. "Rihanna rented out the entire fourth floor during her stay so that people couldn't complain about the smell if she smoked. If they did, she offered to pay for their room," said an insider for the Daily Star.

Also a real estate mogul

It may not be surprising that Rihanna has multiple homes, seeing that she has a buck or two. More specifically, her net worth is over a billion dollars, per Forbes, so that money has to be spent on something, right? And one of those somethings, according to Architectural Digest, was a $6.9 million Beverly Hills mansion in 2009.

The way it seems, the Bajan songstress digs Southern California, as she rented a mansion in Los Angeles' Pacific Palisades neighborhood in 2012 for $65,000 a month. A couple years later, she rented a place above L.A.'s Sunset Strip for $60,000 a month and spent $5.5 million on a penthouse in Los Angeles' ritzy Century Tower. She also bought a place in the Hollywood Hills at one point for $6.8 million. 

And if that wasn't enough real estate for one person, she formerly rented a penthouse in the Chinatown section of Manhattan for $50,000 a month. Plus, she's either rented or owned homes in London, the Hamptons, and her native Barbados. Rihanna is a landlord as well, renting out one of her many Los Angles places for $80,000 a month, per Dirt.com.

Rihanna treats her music like fashion

Releasing a piece of art that becomes successful is a double-edged sword because on one side, the accolades probably inspire the artist to keep creating. But on the other hand, fans of the work may become so attached to it, they won't accept anything else from that person. In the acting world, it's called typecasting, and although there isn't an equivalent term in music, it probably happens even more there.

Rihanna is certainly aware of that, because she warned people that her new music will be far different from anything else they've heard from her. "You're not gonna expect what you hear," she said in a press conference for her lingerie ventures in 2021. "Just put that in your mind. Whatever you know of Rihanna is not gonna be what you hear. I'm really experimenting, and music is, like, it's like fashion. You should be able to play. I should be able to wear whatever I want, and I treat music the same way." 

 The question is, what will Rihanna's new album sound like and how different will it be from her previous releases? Because she seemed to cover just about every genre in her storied career so far, whether it was R&B, pop, or reggae-inspired tunes. But whatever Rihanna's new album will sound like, it could be a while before people find out, because she's famous for keeping her fans waiting, which has caused some frustration.

Rihanna was in the military

In 2023, Rihanna can be seen strolling on red carpets in the coolest designer duds, but back in the day, she was doing push-ups in military attire. That's right, the beauty brand honcho was in Barbados' Army cadets before fame. And her drill sergeant was none other than Barbadian singer Shontelle, who scored a hit in 2008 with her song "T-Shirt."

"We were both in cadets together," Shontelle once told the BBC. "It wasn't compulsory or anything. But picture me and Rihanna in combat boots and fatigues crawling through mud and things like that." Shontelle also confirmed that she ordered Rihanna around but wasn't given a choice. "That's what drill sergeants do," Shontelle explained. "We boss cadets around, we make them do push-ups. .. especially when they show up on the parade square late."

Rihanna's tardiness could have to do with her rebelling against military guidelines, telling NME in 2015 that she'd sometimes refuse to do push-ups when told. In short, the "Shut Up and Drive" singer said she found following rules boring.

Finding her match

A$AP Rocky and Rihanna first had a working relationship, collaborating on the remix to Riri's song "Cockiness (Love It)," released in 2012. The following year Rocky was the opening act on her "Diamonds World Tour." Then in 2020, he was a part of Rihanna's Fenty Skin campaign. During those years, rumors swirled about the rapper and singer possibly being more than work buddies. But by late 2020, the word was out: They were a couple, and Rocky later talked about Rihanna being his soulmate.

"The love of my life. My lady," he said about her during an interview with GQ in 2021. "[Life is] so much better when you got the One. She amounts to probably, like, a million of the other ones ... I think when you know, you know. She's the One." But still, it took a long time for the Harlem-raised artist to go from Rihanna's friend to boyfriend, based on what the Fenty boss told Vogue.

"People don't get out of the friend zone very easily with me," she said in 2022. "And I certainly took a while to get over how much I know him and how much he knows me because we also know how much trouble we can land each other in." In that same interview, Rihanna said that she and Rocky became serious during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rihanna became a mom

One can say that Rihanna announced her pregnancy in a very Rihanna-like way since she did it in style. In January of 2022, she and A$AP Rocky were seen strolling together in photos that were taken in Harlem. The beloved singer showed off a huge belly bump in the pics and sported jewels around her belly. Then during her pregnancy, the singer was praised for her outfits, as some in the fashion world said that she completely changed the rules of maternity wear.

Rihanna gave birth to a boy on May 13, 2022, in Los Angeles. As of February 2023, however, the couple hasn't shared his name, which Rihanna talked about during an interview with the Associated Press.

"We just didn't get around to it yet really. We've just been living," she explained. "But I guess there's a certain freedom that comes with kind of just, like, getting it out there." Rihanna also said that she doesn't plan to ever share her son's name with the public. Mainly because she wants to keep his identity a secret so she and Rocky can do normal things, like take him to the park.

She saw A$AP Rocky get arrested

In April of 2022, Rihanna and A$AP Rocky were seen having a high old time in Riri's home country of Barbados. But the memories of that trip are probably now tainted because Rocky was arrested on their way back when they arrived at Los Angeles' LAX airport. The "Love on the Brain" singer, who was in her third trimester of pregnancy at the time, actually saw Rocky being cuffed and taken away. TMZ said she was blindsided by the arrest and so was Rocky. So the question is, why was he arrested in the first place?

Police say that Rocky shot Terell Ephron in Hollywood, who's a former member of his group A$AP Mob, and Ephron's hand was grazed. Rocky was jailed before bailing out for $550,000. Plus, his house was searched and he was charged with assault with a firearm. He ended up pleading not guilty to those charges.

Reportedly, Rihanna wanted to go to Rocky's house before it was searched to grab some personal items, but she wasn't allowed. The working mom never commented on the arrest but showed full support of her man by attending his show that was held the following month. As of this writing, Rocky's case has yet to be settled.

The pop star released new music

As of February 2023, Rihanna's last album was 2016's "Anti," and there probably hasn't been a day since then that people haven't begged her for new music. Well, their wishes came true on October 28, 2022, with the single "Lift Me Up," a ballad that's on the "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" soundtrack. Perhaps, some people thought her first single in six years would be a huge dance cut, but regardless, the song found instant success, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart. Rihanna is on "Born Again" as well, another song that's on the "Wakanda Forever" soundtrack.

So that means the film's director Ryan Coogler got the singer to do what others seemingly couldn't and that's drop some new tunes. He spoke about it during an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, saying that Rihanna reached out to him after seeing the film's trailer. He also talked about how Rihanna being a new mom made her the perfect person to sing "Lift Me Up."

"It's her experience with loss in there, and her being a mother," Coogler explained. "She's a new person now. [Parenthood] changes you to your core. I hear it in her voice. It's her, but it's a new her."

Landing the Super Bowl

The word came on September 25, 2022: Rihanna was playing the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII. The performance was obviously huge news because it's Rihanna, but also because it would be her first performance in quite some time.

"Right now I feel like ... it was a challenge that I welcomed," she told the Associated Press about why she decided to play the halftime show. "It was a stage bigger than anything I've ever done. It's like one of those things, if I'm going to leave my baby, I'm going to leave my baby for something special and I was willing to do it. It was now or never for me I feel like."

In the performance, Rihanna, who sported a red custom outfit made by Alaïa and Loewe, played a deadly medley of her hits, including "Where Have You Been," "Only Girl (In the World)," "Umbrella," and "Diamonds." But the biggest news of the night was that she was pregnant with her second child, something that one of her reps confirmed afterward. Rihanna's stylist Jahleel Weaver didn't even know about the pregnancy until a few weeks before the performance. "That was the hardest thing to maneuver around, the privacy and secrecy," he said to Vogue. "She didn't tell me until three weeks before [the Super Bowl]. She finally told me when we were reviewing sketches, and I was like, 'Is this a joke?'"

Rihanna shrugs off the Beyoncé comparisons

Both of them are global superstars. They've both churned out a bunch of hits and successful albums, plus, both have a connection to Jay-Z. That could be why Rihanna and Beyoncé are often compared, which the Barbadian artist has addressed. The comparison mostly comes from fans but celebrities have done it as well, like ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who talked about the two women on "Sherri."

"I don't want to say I'm not excited. She's fantastic," said Smith on Sherri about Rihanna after it was announced she'd be playing the Super Bowl. "Ladies and gentlemen, she's a lot of things. She's spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new mamahood. There's one thing she's not: she ain't Beyoncé." But Smith later walked back those comments.

Rihanna spoke about the Bey comparisons in 2016 with Vogue. She did it shortly after her "Anti" album was released and the Destiny's Child singer dropped the video for her song "Formation." In that interview, Rihanna shrugged off any talk of competition and chalked it up to people liking drama. "Here's the deal. They just get so excited to feast on something that's negative. Something that's competitive," she said. "Something that's, you know, a rivalry. And that's just not what I wake up to. Because I can only do me. And nobody else is going to be able to do that."

The singer antagonizes her fans

Rihanna's fan base, The Navy, constantly tells the singer how much they adore her. But that praise shares the same space with their criticism since she doesn't release music on any particular schedule. The complaints about that usually come when Rihanna releases a new Fenty product, like when she promoted her Sun Stalk'r Instant Warmth Bronzer on social media. "Ok now can you please go back to singing," one of her followers commented. "I love how y'all tell me what to do," Rihanna shot back.

She also used a Fenty fashion piece to send a message about new tunes. It was a t-shirt that read "No More Music" on the back. So, it's clear that Rihanna likes to go back and forth with her fans, which she admitted during an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I like to antagonize my fans a little bit," Ri admitted. "Well, they antagonize me, too. So, they get it right back." But The Navy may be able to exhale a bit, based on what their queen told British Vogue in 2023.

"I want it to be this year," said Rihanna about dropping a new album. "Like, honestly, it'd be ridiculous if it's not this year. But I just want to have fun. I just want to make music and make videos." But the pop star made those comments before knowing she was pregnant with her second child, so she may not stick with that plan.

Rihanna received Barbados' National Hero Award

The date November 29, 2021, was a big day for Barbadians, Rihanna included. That's the day Barbados separated from Great Britain and became a Republic. Plus, the island's first president was inaugurated. Rihanna — who was there for the historic day — was also named National Hero of Barbados. And she's the first person to receive the honor in over two decades.

"On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore, present to you the designee for National Hero of Barbados, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty," said Prime Minister Mia Mottley. "May you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation by your works, by your actions, and to do credit wherever you shall go."

Rihanna — who was named an ambassador of Barbados in 2018 — spoke about the honor onstage and opened up about being a proud Barbadian. She relayed a message to the island's young people as well. "This is still the only place I've ever called home," said the Grammy award winner. "I love Barbados. I love you guys. And I pray that the youth continue to push Barbados forward. I'm so proud of you. Prime Minister Mia Mottley, thank you so much for honoring me in this way. I have traveled the world and received several awards and recognitions, but nothing, nothing compares to being recognized in the soil that you grew in."