Could Africa produce a Rihanna?
When the young lady from Barbados came on the scene with a pleasant but modest pop-Reggae ditty called ‘Pon De Replay’, no one could have seen the stratospheric trajectory her career would take. Even with that initial hit, it wouldn’t be fair to say ‘burst onto the scene’ as it was a hit but not earth-shatteringly so. I defy anyone to say they could have envisaged the success the young lady is having now.
As she celebrates her 25th birthday in 2013, the facts and figures about her career are staggering enough. But, since those early, unpromising days she has gone on to become more than ‘just a singer’ and, is these days more of an icon for a generation of aspiring young girls. She models, she advertises products, the listing of which would take up a whole page, she’s done a movie and, if you live in the western world, the chances are, she is in at least one newspaper every day.
Her relationship with singer Chris Brown and the ‘drama’ therein, needs no retelling here. Surely, only a Martian visitor would not be familiar with the twists and turns of that very modern day romance. As recently as February 2013, she was telling the world not to judge ‘her man’ by one moment of madness in 2009 and that he was a nice guy, really. ‘That incident’ happened back in 2009 after a Grammy Awards ceremony. In an interview this year, she told her interviewer, "It's different now, we don't have those types of arguments any more. We talk about [stuff]. We value each other."
So, indulge us for a moment while we ‘park’ the many cars she has but can’t drive, the many houses around the world, the record sales (or should that be ‘record’ record sales?) and the sold-out concert tours, and let us ask the question: ‘Could Africa produce a Rihanna?
Let us look at the evidence: her first record was not the sort that announced a vocal talent to give Aretha or Beyonce sleepless nights and yet, how has she reached such a position of pre-eminence in the Pop World? On stage, she is an accomplished and polished performer. And, offstage (no, not the ‘Chris Brown’ stuff), she has hardly put a foot wrong, with obviously a great team around her advising her to make the right endorsement choices. And, even getting voted ‘World’s Most Beautiful Woman’ by one international magazine.
A lot has to do with luck and timing. In signing her to his record label, Jay-Z, who has been feted within the pages of Promota as an astute businessman, again displayed his business acumen. In searching for an ‘African Rihanna’ perhaps we may need to ‘think outside the box’ and not just think of a female star emerging from the continent to dominate the charts and newspaper column inches in the way Rihanna currently does. On the African scene, among the younger breed of stars, there are some who have already displayed some of the careful career steps exhibited by Rihanna. In evidence, I give you the likes of Nigeria’s P Square and 2face Idibia, DR Congo’s Fally Ipupa and Cindy Le Coeur, to name a few. In the case of the male performers mentioned here, all have a string of massive hits, have great stage presence and have a certain ‘style and swagger’ on and off stage. And, like Rihanna’s first hit that led to the many, they have all recorded songs that have crossed musical genres and crossed over to many audiences. All they need now is a Jay-Z or someone of that ilk to take the plunge and sign them up. The world may yet see an African star hitting the heights similar to those so far scaled by Rihanna, hitting the charts, selling out concert halls (as many of them already do) and keeping the gossip columnists in jobs! World, what are you waiting for?
- [highlight color=”eg. yellow, black”]Rihanna can’t drive, but still owns two cars. Both presents from Jay Z, who’s the head of her record label. She also gets regular presents from him including a bottle of cognac with a card.
- She’s still mates with Katy Perry, despite rumours they’d fallen out. “Katy Perry can date anyone she wants; I could never give relationship advice to anybody!”
- She’s so obsessed with an Italian restaurant in LA, she eats there three times a week, moved house to be closer to it and always eats the same thing: spaghetti with tomato sauce and fried calamari.
- She tells the Observer she’s afraid of ghosts.
- She wants to learn Italian.
- She eats spicy cheese puff crisps by her pool, and talks to herself “when I’m high”.[/highlight]
by Ade Daramy