Thursday, July 2, 2015

#BBHMM: Queen Rihanna Continues Trailblazing for Women in Music

Last night, Rihanna released the video for her platinum-selling single "Bitch Better Have My Money," and it was everything (and more) that was promised in Tuesday's trailer: nudity, violence, drugs and just a handful of other mind-melting things crammed into one blockbuster 7-minute saga. 

On the heels of being named the best-selling digital artist of all-time (meaning, RiRi has more than 100 million Gold & Platinum song certifications), I can't think of a better time to release this graphic video and cement what people have been thinking since she first hopped on Instagram - Rihanna might be the baddest bitch in music. With T-Swift and Katy Perry trailing close behind in single sales and now these cinematic (to put it lightly) new visuals, Rihanna is making it pretty damn clear she calls the shot-shot-shots.

In the #BBHMM video, Rihanna and her cohorts kidnap and torment her accountant's wife (or, the "bitch") in attempt to get what's owed to her. Co-directed by RiRi herself, they stuff the woman into a trunk, cart her around to warehouses, yachts, motel rooms and backyards where they drink, smoke weed and party alongside their hostage before returning to murder the accountant, who clearly never paid up. The video ends with Rihanna sprawled over heaps of money in the aforementioned trunk, sparking a joint, naked and covered in blood. Damn.

(If, at this point, you expect me to address what would happen if a male made this video - eff off, it's not the same.)

Since the end of her abusive relationship with King of Trash Chris Brown, Rihanna has been on the bad bitch upswing - constantly reinventing with each record-breaking single. What started as different stylistic strokes to separate her from Beyoncé comparisons escalated into territory and behaviour that clarifies the two are freakin' night and day. Also groundbreaking, Beyoncé is an otherworldly talent as a performer, singer and brand. Rihanna is 2015's Madonna-like slap-in-the-face to anyone who thinks women need to conduct themselves in any one way.  

An Island girl to the core, Rihanna hasn't woken up and decided to be a bad assShe's not newly shoving her liberation down everyone's throats (although, anyone who's been under a rock and is introduced to RiRi through the #BBHMM video might think so). She grew up in Barbados, with half-siblings who all had different mothers. She sold clothing on the street with her father, who was also addicted to crack and booze. She was discovered and made it out when she was 16, but is still admirably loyal to her family and roots.  

Instead of tossing out a wardrobe malfunction or girl-on-girl kiss at her first public appearance, Rihanna's @badgalriri evolution has been long in the making. 

It started with 2011's Talk That Talk and the sultry "Birthday Cake." Progressed to a body covered in tattoos. Snapchats loaded with her wild, female-filled entourage partying hard and enjoying her success. A music video and album cover where she glistens with sweat, rocks Frida Kahlo-thick eyebrows and sports baggy denim that hides her svelte figure. A see-through dress to the CFDA awards. Her anticipated return to Instagram and DGAF-themed posts. And now the explosive climax - a video like this.

You could argue young girls will look up to Rihanna and think it's cool to hit bongs and party, the same way you could argue young girls will look up to Taylor Swift's all-white model entourage and decide it's cool to be flawless. She's celebrating, glorifying and rolling in her success the way any male hip-hop or R&B mogul would do - except she's a hell of a lot more interesting, and unpredictable, to watch. 

One thing's for sure, Rihanna won't be remembered for prancing around on the beach, a fresh-faced 17 year-old Barbadian singing love songs, and she won't be remembered for getting her face bloodied by her ex-boyfriend on the way to The Grammys. She'll most definitely be remembered for the fearlessness that followed - and that's something every young girl and woman could stand to learn from.

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