In theory, everyone who’s friends with Rihanna is thereby involved in a hot friendship.
But some of RiRi’s friendships are hotter than others.
Fresh from collaborating on “Work,” she and Drake
are keeping company again, on stage and off, and nothing has
changed—minus hair color and sideburns length—since they first entered
each others’ orbit. Their song is a massive hit, their chemistry is off
the charts and they’ve got everybody talking.
And we’re now convinced that’s just how they like it…
I’m single right now and it’s not that I’m like, ‘Oh, pro-single,
yes, I hate men!’ I just think I have so much on my plate that I can’t
even find the time to entertain a steady relationship or anything
serious. Or even a text. Right now it’s just crazy,” Rihanna said on
Ellen in February, when “Work” had just dropped.
When Ellen DeGeneres hinted that Drake may be a good romantic option
if he was on tour with her, the Barbadian songstress rolled her eyes and
reminded Ellen, “He’s not touring with me.” “Well he should,” Ellen
insisted and Rihanna agreed. “He totally should, maybe next time…I would
love to go on tour with Drake, actually. That has to happen.”
Yeah, we’d buy tickets to that. And we’d bring our body-language
experts, relationship counselors, Drake and Rihanna’s moms, all their
friends and anyone else who could give more definitive insight on just
how far these two like to take it. Because they obviously have a great
affinity for each other, and have ever since they met.
Seven years ago.
Aubrey Drake Graham and Robyn Rihanna Fenty’s acquaintanceship first
blossomed in 2009, with Drake later pinpointing a birthday party as the
location at which they met..
They got on well, as their later reflections would attest to, but in
hindsight Rihanna couldn’t have been less emotionally available. It was
in February 2009 when longtime boyfriend Chris Brownhit her after a
pre-Grammys party and what was going on behind closed doors was
memorably bared for all to see. Rihanna unwittingly became the object of
so much scrutiny, with legions of fans supporting her but,
unfortunately, so many more judging her every move after Brown’s arrest.
But the ever-fierce singer continued to live her life in the
meantime, and she and Drake were first spotted out together
socially—with a group of people—at Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge in
New York in May 2009.
And though Rihanna and Brown’s relationship would sporadically
rekindle off and on for several more years, the night at Lucky Strike
apparently featured a thunderbolt.
Drake actually immediately denied that things got romantic, telling
Hot 97 days later, per MTV News, “It’s not like that at all. I’m being
honest. She’s just a friend, that’s all. A great artist.”
But was he actually just towing the party line?!
“We weren’t really sure what it was,” Rihanna told Hot 97’s Angie
Martinez in November 2009, indicating that things at least got intense,
if not serious. “I definitely was attracted to Drake, but I think it is
what it is, like, it was what it was. We didn’t want to take it any
further. It was at a really fragile time in my life, so I just didn’t
want to get too serious with anything or anyone at that time.”
That sounded perfectly understandable, but not long afterward Drake
muddied the waters again when he told XXL’s Doin Lines column: “People
thought I was dating Rihanna, and that was semi-true.”
He then rapped on “Fireworks,” which dropped in May 2010, “Who could of
predicted Lucky Strike would have you stuck with me / Damn, I kept my
wits about me luckily / What happened between us that night / It always
seems to trouble me / Now all of a sudden these gossip blogs want to
cover me / And you making it seem that it happened that way because of
And while out promoting his debut album, Thank Me Later, he let it be known to The New York Times in
June 2010 that he actually felt blindsided. “I was a pawn,” he said in
characterizing what happened with Rihanna. “You know what she was doing
to me? She was doing exactly what I’ve done to so many women throughout
my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like,
‘Wow, this feels terrible.’”
Look at Rihanna, teaching the lessons…
And musically, these two were still very much on, both of them
knowing that it was high time to take their enigmatic relationship and
make a record. So Drake was featured on her October 2010 tune “What’s My
Name,” which made its way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after a few
weeks—Rihanna’s eighth chart-topper and Drake’s first.
They took the stage together for the first time at the 2011 Grammys a
few months later, their smokin’ performance leaving everyone wanting
more from them, onstage and off.
Perhaps feeling somewhat mollified by all the good fortune and more
time spent getting to know his bewitching pal, Drake’s version of what
first transpired between them grew less accusatory.
“At the time it hurt, but she didn’t mean to. I’ll never put that on
her,” he told Elle in October 2011. “I was hurt because I started to
slowly realize what it was. I guess I thought it was more. That was the
first girl with any fame that paid me any mind. You spend days reading
about this person in the magazines. All of a sudden you have this
number-one song and you’re at some birthday party and there she is. And
you’re just some naive kid from Toronto staying in some s—ty-ass hotel
who got invited to this party on a whim. That’s just how it happened.”
But like Rihanna had first said, the timing wasn’t right—and timing is just about everything.
“I like consistency,” Drake told Us Weekly in November 2011, the
perfectly benign reflection drenched in meaning. “I like to form
connections with people on records, and I like the same thing in life
and in love.” Asked if there was a chance of him and Rihanna coupling up
in the future, he admitted, “I don’t know. It’s always love [between
us] though. We’re all young and we’re all busy…That’s talk for a few
years from now.”
At times it was as if Drake and Rihanna were the only guy and girl in
the world, steamy nights out at dance clubs and strip clubs doing
nothing to quell the speculation, but then…
In June 2012, Chris Brown and some pals got into a brawl with members
of Drake’s squad (wow, we didn’t even call them squads back then) at a
New York nightclub. Bottles were thrown, blood was spilled, and the
rumor was that Rihanna (who was not there) was the one who sparked the
A couple weeks later, Brown sang on the track “Game Don’t Lie”: “One
on one, what you scared bruh? Huh, matter of fact, ‘Take Care’ bruh.”
“Take Care,” of course, being Drake’s latest collaboration with
Rihanna off his album of the same name (which would go on to win the
Grammy for Best Rap Album).
Drake’s rep at the time denied any involvement in the fight, but in a
GQ interview in summer 2013, the rapper acknowledged bad blood with
“I wish we could sit down, just like you and me are right now, and
talk it out man-to-man. But that’s not going to happen,” he told the
magazine. “I’m not confrontational, but if someone challenges, I’m not
going to back down.”
“Two rappers fighting over the woman,” he continued. “[Brown’s] not
even a rapper, but still, it’s the last way you want your name out
there. It distracts from the music. But he’s made me the enemy, and
that’s the way it’s gonna stay, I guess.”
However, in showbiz, tomorrow your enemy can become your very best
frenemy. Drake and Brown eventually ended up in the studio together, and
when Drake hosted the ESPY Awards in 2014, they even teamed up for a
Later that year, Brown described the motivation behind the bit as
“let’s break this whole beef thing and make light of the situation
because it shows growth and maturity.”
But back to that summer of 2013 for a sec, when Ellen DeGeneres, who
obviously has been shipping the two for years, showed Drake a picture of
Rihanna during a little did-you-date-this-girl game.
“Yeah, great girl, we had our moment,” he said nonchalantly. “You
know…always support and have love for her and, yeah.” “Mmm, a little
nervous, OK,” Ellen deadpanned, bless her.
They continued to inspire each other creatively as well, with Drake
performing RiRi’s “Stay” in concert in March 2014 and then sampling the
power ballad on “Days in the East,” as he continued to become a major
hip-hop force to be reckoned with. (He’s racked up 14 Grammy nominations
In February 2014 he told Rolling Stone, a couple of nights after a
Rihanna-Drake club sighting recharged the rumor mill, “She’s the
ultimate fantasy. I mean, I think about it. Like, ‘Man, that would be
good.’ We have fun together, she’s cool…But we’re just friends. That’s
my dog for life.”
He added for good measure, “I’m not after p–sy like I was three years
ago, when I was trying to make up for all the years when no girl would
talk to me. But I haven’t met somebody that makes everybody else not
And yet when Drake performed “Days in the East” at the OVO Festival
in his native Toronto in August 2014, pictures of Rihanna with devil
imagery flashed behind him onstage.
“My album title is VIEWS FROM THE 6. The 6 is Toronto. Rih is a great
girl who I know is about to kill this tour with Eminem. It’s all
love!!” Drake tweeted after the scenery caused a stir.
Rihanna never publicly reacted.
2015 was a quiet year for them, with Drake focusing more on sports
(and Serena Williams) while Rihanna casually dated Lewis Hamilton,
Travis Scott and Karim Benzema and became party pals with Leonardo
But after yet another year in which the perception of her love life
made all sorts of headlines, Rihanna referred to Chris Brown as her last
actual boyfriend and indicated that the casual hookup life isn’t for
her in a cover story for the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair.
“If I wanted to [just have sex for fun] I would completely do that,”
she told the magazine. “I am going to do what makes me feel happy, what I
feel like doing. But that would be empty for me; that to me is a hollow
move. I would wake up the next day feeling like s–t.
“When you love somebody, that’s different. Even if you don’t love
them per se, when you care enough about somebody and you know that they
care about you, then you know they don’t disrespect you. And it’s about
my own respect for myself.”
But lo and behold, not long after ringing in 2016, the long wait for
new RiRi music was over and we got “Work”—which also happened to be
another hot collaboration with Drake—and now “Too Good” from Drizzy’s
“It wouldn’t be a record without Rihanna, would it? We do well as a team,” he told Beats 1’s Zane Lowe last week.
So while they’re not on tour per se, he’s now joining her onstage
here and there—at the Brit Awards in February (where they also took some
time out to party in London) and most recently on Wednesday when her
Anti World Tour touched down at the L.A. Forum. Sources tell E! News
that, as always, they’re having a great time together.
And so it all begins again, the sexiness, the speculation, the
searching for clues that Drake and Rihanna are in it to win it this
time. Not that any of that has ever gone away during the past seven
But that’s fine. We like consistency too.