In 2005, Rihanna released her debut studio album, Music of the Sun, which peaked within the top ten of the Billboard 200 and features the Billboard Hot 100 hit single "Pon de Replay". Less than a year later, she released her second studio album, A Girl Like Me (2006), which peaked within the top five of the Billboard albums chart, and produced her first US number one hit single, "SOS", as well as Billboard Hot 100 top ten entries "Unfaithful" and "Break It Off". Rihanna's third studio album, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007), peaking at number two on the Billboard 200, featured five top ten hits including three US number one hit singles—"Umbrella", "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia"—and the worldwide hit "Don't Stop the Music". The album was nominated for nine Grammy Awards, winning Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Umbrella," which features Jay-Z.
Rihanna has sold over 12 million records, worldwide in her four-year career span and has received several accolades, including the 2007 World Music Awards for World's Best-Selling Pop Female Artist and Female Entertainer of the Year, as well as the 2008 American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist. Rihanna has attained five Hot 100 number one singles, becoming the first of two female artists with the most number ones attained within the 2000s. She also serves as one of Barbados' honorary cultural ambassadors.
Rihanna was born in Saint Michael, Barbados to Ronald Fenty, a warehouse supervisor, and Monica Fenty, an accountant. Her mother, a native of Guyana, is Afro-Guyanese and her father is Barbadian and Irish. She is the oldest of three siblings; two younger brothers, Rorrey and Rajad Fenty. She began singing at around the age of seven. Her childhood was deeply affected by her father's addiction to crack cocaine and parent's rocky marriage, which ended when she was fourteen years old. Rihanna attended Charles F. Broome Memorial School, a primary school in Barbados, and then the Combermere School, where she formed a musical trio with two of her classmates at the age of fifteen. In 2004 she won the Miss Combermere Beauty Pageant. She was an army cadet in a sub-military programme that trained with the military of Barbados and Shontelle was her drill sergeant.
At the age of 15, she formed a girl group with two of her classmates. In 2003 friends introduced Rihanna and her two bandmates to record producer Evan Rogers, who was vacationing in Barbados with his wife. The group auditioned for Rogers, who said that "the minute Rihanna walked into the room, it was like the other two girls didn't exist." While auditioning for Rogers, Rihanna sang Destiny's Child's cover of "Emotion". Over the next year, Rihanna and her mom shuttled back and forth to Rogers home in Stamford, Connecticut. Then, shortly after turning 16, she relocated in the United States and moved in with Rogers and his wife. Carl Sturken helped Rihanna record a four-song demo, which included the ballad "Last Time," a cover of Whitney Houston’s hit "For the Love of You" and what would become her first hit, "Pon de Replay" to send to various recording companies. It took a year to record the demos, because she was going to school and would only record during summer and Christmas school breaks. Rihanna's demo made its way to Def Jam, which invited her to audition for the label's then-president, Jay-Z, who quickly signed her.
After signing with Def Jam, she spent the next three months recording and completing her debut album. The album featured production from Evan Rogers, Carl Sturken, Stargate and Poke & Tone. She first collaborated with rapper Memphis Bleek on his fourth studio album 534 before her debut. She released her debut single, "Pon de Replay", on August 22, 2005, which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. It also became a global hit where it peaked within the top ten across fifteen countries. Her debut album, Music of the Sun, was released in August 2005 in the United States. The album reached number ten on the Billboard 200, selling 69,000 copies in its first week. The album has sold over two millions copies worldwide and is certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America, denoting shipments to US retailers of over 500,000 units.
Her music was marketed within the soca and reggae genres because of her Caribbean descent. The album received mixed reviews by music critics. Rolling Stone magazine rated it 2.5 out of 5 stars and described as lacking the replay value, ingenuity and rhythm of the single with "generic vocal hiccups and frills" of US R&B inflecting upon her "Caribbean charm". Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine described the album as a "glut of teen R&B chanteuses " and described her lead single "Pon de Replay" as "a dancehall-pop mixture that owes plenty of its sweat and shimmy to Beyoncé's "Baby Boy"." A reviewer for Entertainment Weekly commented that the "dancehall/R&B debut is filled with chintzy production and maudlin arrangements that block out the Music of the Sun." The albums second single, "If It's Lovin' that You Want" was less successful than "Pon de Replay", having managed a peak position of number thirty-six in the US, and number eleven on the UK Singles Chart. In Australia, Ireland and New Zealand the single proved to be well-received reaching the top ten in those countries. However, the third single, "Let Me" was only released in Japan, peaking at number eight.
A month after the release of her debut album, she began working on her second studio album. The album contained production from record producers Evan Rogers and Carl Sturken who produced most of her debut album, Stargate, J. R. Rotem and label-mate singer-songwriter Ne-Yo. While recording the album, Rihanna served as an opening act for Gwen Stefani to promote her debut album. The lead single, "SOS", peaked at number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her first number-one in the United States. A Girl Like Me was released in April 2006, less than eight months later of her debut. The album reached number five on the Billboard 200 selling 115,000 copies in its first week and has been certified platinum by the RIAA, having shipped over one million units. Internationally, the album peaked at number one on the Top Canadian Albums, five on the UK Albums Chart and number five on the Irish Album Chart. The critical response to the album was mixed; Rolling Stone magazine commented "Like her filler-packed debut album, this similar but superior follow-up doesn't deliver anything else as ingenious as its lead single." Critics also described the album as a record that almost identically alternates between the sunny dancehall/dub-pop, hip-hop-infused club bangers and gushy, adult-oriented ballads. The second single, "Unfaithful", became a major worldwide hit, reaching the top ten in dozen countries around the world, including the United States where it reached number six on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as topping the charts in Canada, France and Switzerland. The albums third single, "We Ride" failed to reprise the success of the lead single but the fourth single, "Break It Off" featuring Sean Paul, jumped from number fifty-two to number ten eventually peaking at number nine. After the release of the album, she embarked on the Rock Tha Block Tour and then toured with Pussycat Dolls from November 2006 to February 2007 in the United Kingdom.
Rihanna released her third album, Good Girl Gone Bad, in June 2007. Prior to the release of the album, she spent the week of the Grammys writing songs for the album with Ne-Yo. She adopted a more sexual image while recording the album, eventually dying her hair black and cutting it short. Rihanna worked with Timbaland and Christopher "Tricky" Stewart, as well as previous musical collaborators such as Stargate, Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers to re-imagine her album compositions with uptempo dance tracks. Rihanna commented, "I want to keep people dancing but still be soulful at the same time [...] You feel different every album, and [at] this stage I feel like I want to do a lot of uptempo [songs]." The album topped the charts in countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Russia and Ireland, and peaked at number two in the United States and Australia. Unlike previous work, the album featured a more dance-pop sound instead of the dancehall, reggae and ballad styles. The album received positive reviews by critics, becoming her most critically acclaimed album at that time compared to her previous efforts. It yielded eight hit singles — all singles reaching the top twenty on the Billboard Hot 100 — including the worldwide number-one hit "Umbrella," featuring Jay-Z. In addition to reaching number one in various countries, "Umbrella" was the number one single in the United Kingdom for ten consecutive weeks, making it the longest-running number-one single since Wet Wet Wet's single "Love Is All Around" spent fifteen weeks at the top in 1994. The song is listed number three on the 100 Best Songs of 2007 published by Rolling Stone magazine. Her other singles, "Shut Up and Drive", "Don't Stop The Music" and "Hate That I Love You" were able to mirror the success of "Umbrella," with "Don't Stop the Music" reaching number three on the Billboard Hot 100 while peaking at number one in various countries.
With the re-issue of her third album, titled Good Girl Gone Bad: Reloaded, which was released in June 2008. Rihanna released the first singles from the re-release "Take a Bow" — which became a worldwide number-one hit — the duet with Maroon 5, "If I Never See Your Face Again," and the other US number-one hit "Disturbia." "Disturbia" reached to number four before reaching number one, as her previous single, "Take a Bow", was at number two, making Rihanna the seventh female singer to have two songs in the top five. Meanwhile, Rihanna was featured on rapper T.I.'s "Live Your Life," which peaked at number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, giving Rihanna her fifth number-one single on the Hot 100 thus far ("SOS," "Umbrella," "Take a Bow" and "Disturbia," as well as T.I.'s "Live Your Life"). This made Rihanna one of the two female solo artist with the most number-one singles this decade, with the other being Beyoncé Knowles. Good Girl Gone Bad has shipped over two million units in the United States, receiving a two-time platinum certification from RIAA; this gave Rihanna her best-selling album, to date. She was nominated in four categories at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards, winning Monster Single of the Year and Video of the Year. At the 2008 Grammy Awards, Rihanna earned her first Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, in addition to receiving five other nominations, including Record of the Year, Best Dance Recording, Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group and Best R&B Song. In support of the album, she embarked on her first headlining tour The Good Girl Gone Bad Tour on September 12, 2007, with several shows across the United States, Canada and Europe and then embarked on the Glow in the Dark Tour with Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, and N.E.R.D on April 16, 2008. Rihanna also won Favorite Pop/Rock Female Artist and Favorite Soul/R&B Female Artist at the 2008 American Music Awards.
On February 8, 2009, Rihanna's scheduled performance at the 2009 Grammy Awards was cancelled. Reports later surfaced regarding an alleged altercation with then-boyfriend, singer Chris Brown, who was arrested on suspicion of making criminal threats. On March 5, 2009, Brown was charged with assault and making criminal threats. Due to a leaked photograph from the Los Angeles Police Department obtained by TMZ.com—which revealed Rihanna had sustained visible injuries—an organization known as STOParazzi has proposed a law called "Rihanna's Law", which, if enacted, would "deter employees of law enforcement agencies from releasing photos or information that exploits crime victims." Gil Kaufman of VH1 reported "[t]he nonstop coverage of the Rihanna/Brown case has brought up a number of issues regarding the privacy of alleged victims of domestic violence, including the decision by almost all major news outlets to divulge the identity of the victim—which is not typically done in domestic-violence cases" and the controversial distribution of the leaked photograph. Rihanna was subpoenaed to testify during a preliminary hearing in L.A. on June 22, 2009. "The DA told me Rihanna will be subpoenaed. I will accept on her behalf," Rihanna's attorney, Donald Etra told Us Weekly. "She will appear in court, and if asked to testify, she will do so". On June 22, 2009, Brown pled guilty to the felony assault. In exchange for his plea Brown received five years probation and was ordered to stay fifty yards away from Rihanna, unless at public events, which then will be reduced to ten yards.
Rihanna collaborated with Jay-Z and Kanye West on "Run This Town." The song peaked at number two on Billboard Hot 100 and also reached the top ten in ten other countries. She appeared on the cover of Vogue Italia for the September 2009 Issue. The photo shoot was influenced by Rihanna's hair, which she had cut for the shoot into a mohawk-like style. The style of the shoot was Extreme Couture and very dark, and in one shot she appeared semi-nude. Rihanna performed "Run This Town" along with Jay-Z and West for the "Answer the Call" concert at Madison Square Garden in September 2009, making it her first musical performance since the altercation with Brown. The trio also performed "Run This Town," on the premiere of The Jay Leno Show on September 14, 2009.
Rihanna started recording in the studio with numerous different producers, including The-Dream, Tricky Stewart, Chase & Status, Stargate, Slash, Justin Timberlake, Ne-Yo and Akon, on her fourth studio album Rated R in March 2009. On October 8, 2009, Rihanna shot the cover for her fourth album with Ellen von Unwerth in Berlin. The new album was released November 23, 2009. The album's lead single, "Russian Roulette", was released on October 20, 2009. Rihanna performed the song on, The X Factor on November 29, 2009. The official video was released on November 13, 2009. On November 10, 2009 the second official single. "Hard" featuring Young Jeezy was released. A promo single, "Wait Your Turn" was released on November 3rd, but it has since been announced as the official third single set for release in early 2010 in the UK. On November 16, 2009, Rihanna performed her first concert in London for Nokia customers. She performed 4 songs from her new album, Rated R, 4 songs from Good Girl Gone Bad, 2 songs from A Girl Like Me and the 2 recent duets, "Live Your Life" and "Run This Town".