Jay-Z and Rihanna’s relationship explained

It seems like it was a different time entirely when Rihanna, born Robyn Rihanna Fenty, was one of the biggest R&B and pop singers on the charts. Yes, the Barbadian business mogul we know now — worth $600 million as of 2019, according to Forbes — actually has nine Grammy Awards, 14 number one hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts, 12 American Music Awards, and one Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. Before she was creating award-winning fashion labels and beauty brands, she was a 15-year-old singer trying to get discovered. According to Business Insider, record producer Evan Rogers was the first to discover the young singer while vacationing in Barbados. 

“She had such a presence!” Rogers said. “Her makeup was perfect, and she had these capri pants and matching sneakers, with her green eyes and her long supermodel neck.” He added, “I said to myself, ‘If that girl can sing, then holy sh*t!” By December 2004, Riri recorded her first single “Pon de Replay” and sent the track off to record labels. One of those labels was Def Jam, and her demo went all the way into the hands of the president of the label, Jay-Z. 

Rihanna signed to Jay-Z's label at just 16

Hip-hop mogul Sean Carter aka Jay-Z knew he had a gold mine in his hands when he first heard Rihanna’s demo of “Pon de Replay.” In fact, he was so certain that he wanted to sign her that he flew her out to the United States to meet him and other executives at the Def Jam label, according to Business Insider. Per the outlet, Rihanna told the Observer in a 2007 interview that she was “very shy” and “cold the entire time,” but that didn’t stop her from giving a stellar performance.  

Jay-Z was so moved by her presence and desperate to sign her that Rihanna recalled him saying, “There’s only two ways out. Out the door'” — if she signed the contract — “‘or through this window'” if she didn’t.” As history goes, she signed with Def Jam that same night and began cranking out hits under the tutelage of one Mr. Carter.  

Jay-Z featured on a few of Rihanna's #1 hits

As soon as Rihanna inked her first contract, she immediately began creating hit after hit. The young singer’s mentor Jay-Z even featured on a few of her biggest tracks including 2008’s “Umbrella” and 2010’s “Run This Town” — which also featured Kanye West — and 2011’s “Talk That Talk.” Of course, each song won its own accolades and awards over the years, including Grammy Awards and MTV Video Music Awards. 

It seemed as though Rihanna was following in her mentor’s steps when it came to transitioning from music to business. She’s the proud owner of Fenty Beauty, Fenty Skin, Savage x Fenty, and other fragrance lines and ready-to-wear fashion lines, while Jay has founded everything from a sports management agency to his own music streaming platform Tidal.

But in a 2019 interview with Interview magazine, the queen of lingerie spoke about her love for putting herself first before all else. She said, “My career is my purpose, and it should never feel like anything other than a happy place.” 

This may be why fans may have to wait a bit longer for the notorious ninth studio album, nicknamed on the internet as “R9,” to be released. Whenever the Navy finally gets the new album or the world gets another beauty or fashion line, Jay-Z will surely be in her supportive corner. 

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