Racial Criticism in Popular Culture

Although I am not particularly a fan of it, Rihanna’s newest song ‘Work’ has gotten a lot of negative feedback in the media lately.

The song, in which she collaborates with Drake, has received a lot of criticism in regards to its un-articulated lyrics, and furthermore its deviance from Rihanna’s typical Pop music sound.

In her newest song, and all throughout her newest album called Anti, Rihanna engages in a lot of R&B and mellower jazz sounds.

Her newest song was actually the topic of discussion in my Gender and Language seminar at school yesterday. We were discussing how because Rihanna has chosen to approach her new song and her new album with a sound that is authentic to her (she is from Barbados), people are outraged and are demanding for her old sound.

An article by the Badger Herald argues: “But this album is the start of a whole new image — one that does not answer to the demands of labels, producers or even her own fans. She is taking control of her artistry and breaking free from the constraints of pop standards that catapulted her into the music world more than a decade ago.” Here’s the link to the article: https://badgerherald.com/artsetc/2016/01/28/rihanna-forges-new-possibly-controversial-direction-with-anti/

I think it’s really saddening how simply by trying to stay true to herself and incorporate her ethnicity into her music, Rihanna is being slammed by her fan base for not producing music that appeals to their tastes.

What’s even more saddening is how despite other artists, like Drake for instance, taking on a similar sound in their own music, Rihanna is the first artist to receive criticism for doing so. We were discussing in seminar whether or not it is because she is a female in the music industry. I definitely think her sex has something to do with it. I think it is really unjust how Rihanna is being criticized for trying something new, and furthermore for staying true to herself in the process.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

– Lauren


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