Lost in Translation: Rihanna’s American Oxygen


As a Rihanna fan, I am ashamed to say that I have never written a blog post about her music. I must admit I do not think Rihanna music was worth writing about until now.

The last time we had heard about Rihanna musically was when she dropped her I miss Chris Brown album Unapologetic and I loved it. I have always felt that the two albums about Chris Brown Rated R and Unapologetic were her best albums. I think these albums had substance which is sometimes missing from her work.

I was pleasantly surprised with the singles that she has released from the long awaited R8. They are all very different and you can definitely see that she is going in a new direction with her music which I appreciate. I think as fans we should be open to the artists we support doing something different. In all honesty, an album is a piece of the artist’s life at that point of time. Anyway, Four Five Seconds is a good song and I love the vocals from both Kanye and her. B*tch Have My Money is hilarious. It is similar to “Pour It Up”. It really is a club banger and ratchet as hell. The beat is fantastic and you can definitely hear that Kanye West co-produced this song. The most interesting single so far is American Oxygen

I do think if it was not initially released on Tidal that it could be a bit more successful. The first time I heard American Oxygen, I truly wondered how this song relates to Rihanna because she is not American. I also felt the same way when I saw the music video. After watching it more and more, I realised that American Oxygen is a story of a immigrant which Rihanna technically is. This epiphany made me love the song even more. Furthermore, I think the song is also about this supposed “American Dream”. Truth be told the “American Dream” is not a reality for everyone in America and this seen in the video with the images of immigrants, protests in Ferguson and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr. This is emphasised with the lyrics “you can be whoever in America” and the reality is not everyone in the American society has the choice to be anyone.

I applaud her confidence to tell this story but I think what is truly missing in American Oxygen is Rihanna’s voice. What is her story when it comes to this American Oxygen and this American Dream. Additionally, what is this “new america” and who are we in “the new america” that she repeats at the end of the song.I think why her voice was lost in this song is maybe because she was trying to be political correct and I do not think it is the time to be that. If you want to make political and conscious songs do not half – ass it.

American Oxygen is a good idea and is interesting insight of America but I think it would be great if we heard Robyn Fenty’s story about her experience in America. I can understand Rihanna wanting to be more than a pop star but she needs to give more depth. This really was a missed opportunity but I love Rihanna for the effort. I am still very excited about R8 and I do think I will see Robyn Fenty and all her complexities.


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