In 2017 when Rihanna announced her entry into the beauty industry with her own makeup line Fenty Beauty, the Navy rejoiced. If finally being able to find your foundation shade meant we had to wait a little longer for an album, it was a sacrifice some fans were willing to make. But it turned out the emergence of Fenty wasn’t just a foray into beauty; it established Rihanna as a business tycoon who could sell anything she emblazoned her name on. The sneakers, lingerie, and partnership with LVMH luxury fashion house have made the Bajan singer a $600 million woman, a figure that Forbes says makes her the richest female musician in the world. This week, her extra-musical empire expanded even further with the opening of the first pop-up shop for her Fenty fashion label. There were futuristic sunglasses and flirty pointed toe sandals, but one item amid the collection was particularly striking: a $230 t-shirt with the message “No More Music” written on it. I’ve let Rihanna sell me a lot of things—but I won’t let her sell me lies.
The prospect of “no more music” simply cannot be true. Last year, news surfaced that the Anti singer was working on two albums. According to Rolling Stone, producers were vying for Rihanna’s attention (aren’t we all?) to create the perfect dancehall and pop album. So how do we go from two albums (and over 500 song submissions according to one producer) to no music at all? The Rolling Stone article kept their producer sources anonymous, which could be enough to elicit skepticism, but almost a year later Rihanna confirmed she had indeed been in the booth.
In an interview with T Magazine last month, the pop singer didn’t dish too many details except for the only one that matters: Drake will not “Pop Style” his way on her album. Her exact words were, “Not on this album, that’s for sure.” If Rihanna, an immigrant from Barbados, is rumored to be giving us an album heavily influenced by dancehall and reggae specified that this isn’t the album for Drake to appear on, is it fair to assume that it’s because she wants to create an authentic listening experience? Maybe we’re reaching, but what else is there to do when it’s been three years, four months, three weeks, and two days since Rihanna released an album.
If there really is “no music,” than Rih wouldn’t have mentioned it to her dear ol’ pal Sarah Paulson in a story for Interview Mag earlier this month. “It really does suck that it can’t just come out, because I’m working on a really fun one right now,” she said. “I’m really happy with a lot of the material we have so far, but I am not going to put it out until it’s complete.” When Paulson pushes for a release date, the singer still remained tight-lipped. “I wish I knew. I have blocked off a solid period of time for the studio next month.” Given the relationship between the Ocean’s 8 cast mates, why would Rihanna lie to Paulson? Paulson even told Ellen DeGeneres she’s “pretty sure” the two are friends. There are so many different ways to interpret this intel. One could argue working on a “fun one” might mean she is working on multiple albums, while others could see her declaration to trapping herself in a studio to mean the album isn’t near done.
Now that we’ve looked past her trolling, maybe the delay since her Anti, her magnum opus, is a positive. In the years since her last studio album, Jamaican dancehall singer Buju Banton was released from prison after serving seven years of a 10-year sentence. She even mentions that she flew home to Barbados to catch one of his homecoming concerts in Interview Mag, which could have opened the door to a possible collaboration. The past three years have been an incubator of talent from new women in music, and who among us wouldn’t want to see Rihanna collaborate with Megan Thee Stallion, City Girls, or Cardi B? The shirt was a cute gesture to fool the masses, but you can’t trick a true Navy girl. I’ll wait for the t-shirts that have the release date.
Kristin Corry is a staff writer for Noisey. Follow her on Twitter.