2009 Glamour Woman of the Year Rihanna returns to the magazine’s cover for Glamour‘s September 2011 issue—and she’s got plenty to say about today’s pop landscape, judging by the pullquotes that accompany the photo gallery on the magazine’s website. “There’s a pack. It’s me, Gaga, Katy Perry, Beyoncé…who else? Ke$ha, for sure. Women are definitely dominating music right now, and that’s because we are competitive beings. I feel like music hasn’t been this exciting in a while.” She’s certainly not wrong about the female domination of pop, and aside from Britney, who guested on Rihanna’s “S&M” remix (and whom we’re sure Rihanna already regrets not mentioning), and Adele (who stands apart from the “pack” Rihanna describes) she pretty much has the usual suspects nailed down.
Speaking of “S&M,” Rihanna is also far enough in her career to speak to concerns of representation (particularly of sexuality) in public. “I want to set the right example and, at the same time, live my life,” she tells the magazine, possibly punning on “Live Your Life,” the T.I. song for which she provides the hook. “Pop stars can’t be rock stars anymore because they have to be role models, and it takes the fun out of it for us, because we just want to have fun with art.” And with fans, as our meet-and-
gropegreet gallery illustrates. Clearly these playful interactions are just a small part of the ways in which Rihanna enjoys (and tests) the freedoms she enjoys at this stage in her life and career. Things weren’t always so carefree. She explains to Glamour: “In the beginning of my career, it was really strict for me. I couldn’t wear pink or red lipstick; it was just bizarre. We had a young fan base, and they were trying to keep me fresh. But I just really wanted to be myself. I wanted to be sassy, the attitude, all these things that I am.” Even now, a mild uproar over the not-actually-that-scandalous imagery in the video for “S&M” caused a bit of controversy for the artist, who felt that her expression was still being censored. (The copyright-infringement lawsuit brought by David LaChappelle is another matter entirely, and we don’t anticipate that she opened up to Glamour about that.)
In the light of the “S&M” mini-scandal, it’s unsurprising that she sings the praises of frankness, calling honesty “the ultimate liberation in life. People want to shy away from the truth and keep sweeping it under the rug. But after a while, you pick up the rug and there’s just way too much dirt, so you might as well just be up front about it.” And while she’s on the topic of being up front, she can’t help but mention her friend Katy Perry again: “When I met her, it was such a breath of fresh air. I just couldn’t believe this chick had no edit button…. Katy and Lady Gaga came out of the gate exactly the way they think, the way they wanna dress, the way they wanna speak.” The whole cover story is in the September 2011 Glamour, on newsstands August 9.