Is this why you like Rihanna, but not Nicki or Beyoncé? Genuinely not trolling lol. I know we chatted about it before and your distaste for she who shall not be named is legendary, but I agree with pretty much all of this.
"RiRi crafts notably rebellious black female self-determination in this spirit, eschewing propriety in favor of a carefree, self-indulgent womanhood not contingent on respectability. She demands authority over her own body, narrative, and career. The video for 2013's "Pour It Up" features Rihanna making it rain both by and on herself. The dollars themselves have her face on them, the perfect currency for her autoerotic fantasies. The effects of her refusal to shrink into the constraining molds handed to her — the "acceptable" ways to perform wealth, womanhood, blackness, and victimhood — ripple beyond her work and her fanbase. Rihanna's defiant ascent to superstardom offers glimpses into a world where all black women can revel in (or rebuff) the limelight on our own terms and laugh while doing it, where our creativity, beauty, and worth are not graded against the impossible sliding-scale rubric of white femininity.
If Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj are two meticulously constructed, divergent brands of black womanhood, then Rihanna is the renegade blurring of the lines between them. Beyoncé is a poised, almost mechanical demigoddess; Nicki is an ineffable, ferocious femme fatale. Rihanna exists in the sharp gray areas between them, carving a space all her own. Her trajectory from "West Indian Beyoncé" to electro-R&B princess to pop queen (regardless of her sometimes questionable vocals) has zigzagged in nonlinear ways that neither Beyoncé's nor Nicki's has — because neither Beyoncé nor Nicki has the option of expanding her lane in the way Rihanna has been able to constantly modify her brand. The appeal of Rihanna's persona lies partly in its constant evolution, in her refusal to be called the "new" anybody."
I always say, as much as I ride for ~*Shmeymoncye*~, Rihanna is the TRUE love of my life and I feel like this piece really captures why. She has a kind of... exuberance? that really appeals to me. I don't know if there's something intangibly West Indian there that I gravitate towards without knowing it, but I always feel so much like she's what I would want to be like if I were black and famous. She's both uncouth and vulgar in a way that is exactly right to me. She carries herself in a way that tells her audience "Aren't you lucky to be in my presence? To experience my existence?" It's almost the kind of arrogance that used to get credited to Kanye and later was credited to (my boyfriend) Richard Sherman. She doesn't apologize for being exactly however she fucking feels like being and I've always secretly thought it was very brave of her, especially her refusal to become "the face of domestic violence" after Chris Brown attacked her. I feel like, as a black celebrity who is also a woman, it takes an enormous amount of self assurance insist on putting yourself first like that, something that black women are so rarely able to do, especially when they live in public like Rihanna does.
I feel like the closing graf says it best:
Everything she does raises the question "can I live?"— and simultaneously lets you know she decided a long time ago the only acceptable answer is yes. This is Rihanna's world, and you better believe she calls the shots.
So, yeah, sorry that got a bit long. Thoughts?