By Rob Markman
Rihanna's image has changed a lot over the years, and during her interview with Oprah Winfrey on "Next Chapter," which aired Sunday night (August 19), she admitted that some of the change happened because she felt 'claustrophobic" in her early days at Def Jam.
During her sit down with the media queen in her native Barbados, Rihanna opened up about her road to stardom and the hardships she had to overcome. Her volatile relationship with Chris Brown tops the list by far, but Rih's relationship with her label Def Jam wasn't so picture-perfect either. "I feel like I was really, really protected, really guarded with myself. I felt like they were giving me a blueprint," she said of the marketing department at the label where she has put out six platinum- and gold-selling albums.
After leaving Barbados as a teen to pursue a career in music, in 2005, Rihanna found herself in an audition for then-Def Jam president Jay-Z and former label head L.A. Reid. The audition led to a record deal, which in turn led to worldwide fame. Rihanna has since won numerous Grammys, American Music Awards and MTV Video Music Awards and has broken a slew of Billboard chart records. But for the young singer, it all came at a price.
"They had a brand, they had an idea of what they wanted me to be without figuring out who I was and then working with that," she said slowly during the hour-long sit down choosing her words very carefully.
Though she is praised for #1 pop hits like "Umbrella," "Rude Boy" and "We Found Love," Rihanna is often criticized for her moves outside of the studio. Her 2007 album Good Girl Gone Bad seemed to serve as a precursor for what was to come. No longer a spotless, pop starlet who plays by the rules, Rihanna has emerged as a fiery heroine to rebellious girls everywhere. Whether she is tweeting racy bikini pics, calling outDutch magazine editors or rolling weed at Coachella, Rihanna is clearly doing things her way. "I felt stifled because I don't even know who I am at 16 and 17 years old," she said about her early days. "I was uncomfortable with that. The only way I could do that was by bursting out of it."