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adidas mexico tank British VogueRihanna shared details of her hugely anticipated new album, life and love in London, the unprecedented “Fenty effect,” and what the “Black is Beautiful” movement means to her empire. She also became the first person to wear a durag on the publication’s cover.

Rihanna’s longtime hairstylists, Yusef Williams and Naphia White reached back through the annals of black style and visual culture to develop her dramatic, and historically significant hairstyles for the cover interview. The decision to don a durag carries important weight; Once once used to suppress black women’s beauty, the hairpiece now signifies resistance and authenticity.

Scroll down to read the biggest takeaways from the interview and browse Rihanna’s iconic looks.

On when we can expect R9

“I can’t say when I’m going to drop. But I am very aggressively working on music.”

On what it will sound like

“I don’t want my albums to feel like themes. There are no rules. There’s no format. There’s just good music, and if I feel it, I’m putting it out. I feel like I have no boundaries. I’ve done everything – I’ve done all the hits, I’ve tried every genre – now I’m just, I’m wide open. I can make anything that I want.”

On her work ethic

“I’m working like this now so that I don’t have to in the future […] You’re supposed to go down this road – it’s a matter of time. You’re a child star. You’re a one-hit-wonder. All these things just seep into you, and after a while it got me to this place of, like, I turned into a savage. Young Hollywood? That was nothing new to me. That was my house.”

On her recent breakup with Saudi billionaire businessman Hassan Jameel

“Since I turned 32, I’m realizing life is really short. You don’t have a lot of time to tolerate shit, you know? You put so much on your plate. When you’re overwhelmed, you need to start cutting things out. And I’m overwhelmed too much. What’s happening now is that I’m going back to black and white. My grey area is shutting down.”

On life in London

“I like it because they’re too bougie to give a shit about me. When I walk into those places, I am invisible. And nothing makes me feel better than being invisible […] I’d rather go to Brixton, but if I do that now, and I try to get some Jamaican food, it’s going to be an event, you know? So if I want a night off, I go hang with the people I would never hang with. And I just, I’m just in my bubble. Which I really enjoy about London.”

On what photographer Kwame Brathwaite and the”Black is Beautiful” movement means to her

“Being the first black woman to lead a luxury house, especially under LVMH, it was a huge deal to see him just encourage people to buy black. I felt connected to it, and knowing why really made me feel like there’s no way I can ignore this.”

On “the Fenty effect”

“I’m shocked by people saying, ‘Oh my god, what made you think of making make-up for black girls?’” She continues, “I’m like, ‘What? You thought this was like, a marketing strategy? Like I’m a genius?’ It’s shocking most of the time […] Then it turns into disappointment that this is groundbreaking right now. In my mind, this was just normal.”

On dropping her Fenty pieces online rather than waiting six months from the catwalk to sale

“It is so easy to put something together for a runway, because you have six months to perfect it in production. It’s so much more challenging to create something in a short amount of time and it be perfect […] I refuse to release anything that is not up to par with my quality level, the angle of a hem, the size of a sleeve, the stitch If it’s not the right stitch that I want.”

On how the fight for freedom and justice has inspired her recent pieces

Rihanna’s mother was a Guyanese immigrant to Barbados. “The Guyanese are like the Mexicans of Barbados, so I identify – and that’s why I really relate and empathize with Mexican people or Latino people, who are discriminated against in America. I know what it feels like to have the immigration come into your home in the middle of the night and drag people out.”

“Let’s just say I know what that fight looks like. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve been in it. I was probably, what, eight-years-old when I experienced that in the middle of the night. So I know how disheartening it is for a child – and if that was my parent that was getting dragged out of my house, I can guarantee you that my life would have been a shambles.”

“So when I see these injustices happening, it’s hard to turn a blind eye. It’s hard to pretend it’s not happening. The things that I refuse to stay silent on, these are things that I genuinely believe in.”

On racism

“I think police brutality is probably extremely severe in America, but racism is alive everywhere. Everywhere,” she emphasizes. “It’s the same [in the UK]. It’s either blatant, which is becoming more and more of a norm, or it’s underlying, where people don’t even know they’re being obvious about it. You know, it’s just a subconscious layer that’s embedded from their entire core.”

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Weekend Staff Writer

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