Tattoos, guns, ass, and murder.
Rihanna’s latest video is once again NSFW (hint, hint; another strip joint). Debuted in honor of 4/20, the violent and sexually charged video “Needed Me” is Anti’s latest masterpiece. In the video, stripped down and sans bra, the songstress shuffles between a gorgeous beachfront mansion and a gritty strip club. While the video definitely delivers a visual punch, the storyline still remains a mystery to me. Besides her bare breasts, I suppose the highlight of the video is when she totes a gun into the club and upon finding a man who has presumably wronged her proceeds to fill him up with several rounds. Eerily reminiscent of her “Bitch Better Have My Money” video from 2015, the singer then makes a getaway on a boat after committing the crime.
“Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage?” she sings earlier in the song. But nobody had to tell us. We know Rihanna—at least, the music video version of Rihanna over the years is the story of a good girl gone bad.
Overall, the song is simply alright and may grow on me with time.
So why the hell does this matter?
Island Muse routinely highlights Rihanna’s achievements and what I like most about her is the fact that, from her accent, to her regular participation in Barbados’ Carnival celebration; Cropover, she still remains strongly connected to her Caribbean culture, even after all these years in the American entertainment industry. However, my initial reaction upon seeing the video was one of unease and confusion. Rihanna is my girl and all but damn am I really looking at her bare breasts? Second thought; oh what’s the big deal they’re just breasts? Third thought; is this video going to be broadcasted on local television stations? Final thought; what about the children? When the dust settled, I realized that perhaps I’m naïve and old-fashioned. The harsh reality is that in 2016— at any time of the day, I could turn on my flat screen and see a woman’s bare breasts and derriere casually displayed. I simply need to “get with the times”.
For what it’s worth I will say that Rihanna appears to exert control (whether it be sexually or the mere fact that she’s dangerously armed) over her male counterparts in the video. She appears to be sexual for herself and are not entirely for the gratification of men. Engaging with her sexuality on her own terms. In the midst of my moral tug of war this is something I can get behind 100%.
Lastly, the video is undoubtedly a well executed experiment in shock and awe and in hindsight, not a major surprise to people who’ve followed Rihanna’s career over the years. At this point I can only tell myself to “get over it” while quietly humming didn’t they tell you that I was a savage?
What do you think? Appealing and artistic or perhaps too extreme?