The glossy, posed, era of celebrity pregnancy announcement photo in effect ended last September when Gen Z’s imp prince Lil Nas X expertly parodied the genre with a People magazine exclusive in which Nas posed with a baby bump to announce the release of his debut album Montero.
Leave it to music’s perennially best-dressed couple, Bajan superstar Rihanna and her boyfriend, rapper and Harlemite A$AP Rocky, to reinvent the genre; “papped” by the fashion-friendly photographer Miles Diggs; walking the streets of Harlem, where Rocky grew up, in a snowstorm wearing a hot pink archive Chanel coat fastened with a single button and a Christian Lacroix necklace draped over her bare stomach, in what can only be described as the most Rihanna way to let the world know she is expecting a baby.
Friends since their 2012 collaboration Cockiness (Love It) and an official couple since early 2021, his and hers looks are perfect – Rihanna in loose-fit ripped jeans and Rocky wearing a Carhartt jacket and vinyl pants.
It’s difficult not to be suspicious that they have been paid a significant sum of money by the Census Bureau to make parenthood cool again.
Effortlessly chic, completely unexpected, and with a knowing wink to the loud contingency of fans who have been yelling at her to “Take Those Coats Off We Know Yor Pregnant” since the start of the year, it’s the kind of shoot only someone who treats their fame as playfully as Rihanna could pull off.
The beads hanging over her bump in a reference to Madonna’s Like A Virgin album cover, Rih and Rocky holding hands and smiling at each other like stock models, Rocky’s tender kiss to Rihanna’s head as the snow falls beautifully, delicately, perfectly around them: it all lands effortlessly.
How could anyone not named Aubrey Graham not be happy for them?
The announcement lands days after Rihanna’s fans celebrated, for lack of a better word, the sixth anniversary of the singer’s last studio album, 2016’s Anti.
In the intervening period, Rihanna has launched a hugely successful cosmetics line (Fenty Beauty), skincare range (Fenty Skin), lingerie brand (Savage X Fenty), fashion house (Fenty), been made a national hero of Barbados (The Right Excellent Robyn Rihanna Fenty) and found time to start a family (Baby Fenty – coming soon) but hasn’t so much as teased a note of new music.
It seems unlikely that the long-awaited R9 will drop before she goes on maternity leave reports The Guardian.
Could Rihanna’s next move be to expand the Fenty brand out into the kids’ market, delaying R9 yet again? Optimists can perhaps hold on to the hope that impending motherhood will spark the flame of musical creativity in her once again – Madonna and Harlem girl Kelis both released career-best records after becoming parents for the first time, turning to the dancefloor for inspiration (potentially the dancefloor at a mother and baby day rave).