Rihanna ain’t making no album… and other ways we should let people live

I figured out a problem ya’ll. Oh, Happy New Year and such!

With all the hopes that people have for 2021, most of us spent the final hours of last year reflecting on what we learned during the heap of burning trash known as 2020. Some of us took time to set plans for 2021 and let our hopes burgeon. Others are just sitting tight and waiting to see if the sky falls which, listen, I feel y’all.

But then there are some, a select many if you will, who just won’t let people live. They snarl at setting goals for themselves or guffaw at exploring anything that may actually fulfil them. No, their main goal is to keep others, permanently and depressingly, in a holding pattern. The people around them are holding signs the size of a small hippo saying how badly they want to move on to new things and these people dig their heels deep into the mud and say NO. In other words, they are the people that will keep asking Rihanna when her album is coming out no matter the year, the day, or the hour.

Here’s the recap kids. Rihanna released her last studio album, “Anti”, in January of 2016. This album was the 8th studio album that she released in a little over 10 years. Sis, was pretty much cranking out albums yearly. Consistency was her name and they were all good if not exceptional. Bops for days! Listen, I have “Umbrella” on repeat to this very day. She won all the awards, Grammy’s included and became a living icon for our generation. She was on fire and left us with incredible bodies of work. And then, a la Arianna Grande, she said, “Thank You, Next” and her studio went dark.

Rihanna moved on to do some great things that include Savage Fenty, a sexy lingerie line that even carries items for thickems like yours truly, and Fenty Beauty, who’s fat water I just ordered hoping that it gets rid of my annoying dark spots (make it so Jesus!). She’s making money hand over foot and still giving us the best that she’s got. She’s doing things that allow her to flex a different creative muscle while still making things for the culture that are necessary and celebrated. But even with all that…on Al Gore’s internet, people still raise the question under every Instagram post the woman makes. They ask, undoubtedly with Cheeto breath and a bill collector from Children’s Place on their blocked call list, “When’s that next album dropping, Sis?”

It’s annoying. Rihanna has been handling it well and even joking about it with her ‘fans’. That is until Joe Biden’s 2021 ticked into view on the calendar. She’s reached the level of doneness of a Black mom’s Applebee’s steak. WELL. Okay?

I understand her frustration. What I’ve noticed is that people are more concerned with their comfort than your growth. If given the opportunity to have you move on to something that would leave a void in their day-to-day they would prefer to have to you remain miserable and keep doing the same thing. I can imagine for Rihanna that after ten years of consistently and primarily doing music she would want to move on to other things, explore other interests. Especially because the music industry is particularly demanding and with the increase of streaming coupled with our short attention spans its becoming less and less lucrative. It’s big time to move on and anyone should understand.

But no. They still say, “Sis, where is that album?”

There’s something insensitive about the comment. In their unrelenting requests for an album, they seem to undermine both the amazing albums she’s already released and the other work she’s doing. As if everything she’s done is cute, but where’s the album. Like these multimillion dollars ventures and boss moves she’s making are insignificant if she doesn’t sing a lil something into a mic. How rude. Most people probably aren’t thinking that deep, they just want something new to rock to from an artist that they love but in being human are we only supposed to consider our motivations and desires or are we supposed to be understanding, empathic entities. The later right?

But these people don’t only exist in Rihanna’s comments. No, they are living breathing COVID spreading humans right here on this earth. We see this daily as creators. Getting boxed in. People find us and love us for that one thing we did and want to see us do that forever. What I hope people would realize is that creators are typically multifaceted in their skillset. If we told Ice Cube to just stick to rapping we wouldn’t have black hood classics like Friday, if we told Jennifer Lopez to stick to dancing I wouldn’t be able to watch Monster-In-Law on VH1 every Sunday, or if Drake stuck to Degrassi we wouldn’t be Toosie sliding on TikTok. I mean, let people grow and flourish in their creativity.

Let me tell you a secret. A person can still be your favorite author if you don’t like EVERYTHING they write. A singer can still be your fave without you going all Stan for everything they do. It’s important to be able to consume content in a take it or leave it fashion. I don’t have to laugh at every joke in a comics set for me to think they are funny. It’s an unreasonable expectation to put on creatives that they must stick to one thing throughout their careers. Sometimes it’s just fun to try novel things. The happiness that comes from exploring new ideas is immense. Not to mention, we get some great bodies of work from the most unexpected places. I never expected that Jordan Peele was an horror genius when I cackling to Key & Peele but lo and dammit behold! I’m enamored and delighted with Get Out , Us, and am patiently awaiting the release of CandyMan.

We can’t expect to continue to get great shit out of people who are working with the same tools and ingredients over and over again. Eventually things are going to get ‘meh’, boring, and devoid of the spark that comes from new creative endeavors.

And that goes for you too. Don’t be afraid to try new things or flex another muscle. It can be really tempting to stick to what you know people like and not rock the boat much, especially if you are earning serious coin doing it. But remember the line between consistency and irrelevance is super thin. Take risks. Besides, with our flaky attention deficit culture its likely that people will eventually get tired of you anyway so why not just do what you want? Don’t let your ‘fan base’ keep you from giving the world your Toosie Slide?

K? Happy 2021. Bye.

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