Will Rihanna’s fans get her long-awaited ninth album and a jaw-dropping Super Bowl performance? Shortly after Rihanna, 34, and the NFL confirmed that she would headline Super Bowl LVII’s Halftime Show, the “Work” singer visited a recording studio, hinting that she might be putting the finishing touches on her anticipated follow-up to 2016’s Anti. With a giant purple Chanel bag in hand, Rih made her way into the recording facility on Monday (Sept. 26), dressing casually for the trip. She rocked an oversized black jacket, a shirt with a vivid print on the front, a pair of gray Adidas, and her trademark cool demeanor.
This marks the fourth time in recent weeks that the paparazzi have caught Rih visiting a studio. On Sept. 14, she and A$AP Rocky hit up a late-night studio session in West Hollywood. They returned a few days later, leading to speculation that they weren’t just enjoying some time out after welcoming their first child in May. When Rocky, 33, and Rih visited the Los Angeles studio again on the 18th, it was hard not to wonder if Rihanna’s ninth album might see the light of day in 2023.
After all, artists have, in the past, using the Super Bowl Halftime Show as a launching pad for a national or world tour. Amid speculation that Taylor Swift would play the big game, Rihanna — who hasn’t performed publicly since the Grammys in 2018 – tweeted a photo of her holding an NFL-branded football on Sept. 25. “Let’s GO @Rihanna,” added Roc Nation’s official Twitter account. JAY-Z’s entertainment company/record label has been producing the Halftime Show for the past four years, and their response confirmed that Rih would play the sports extravaganza at Glendale’s State Farm Stadium on Feb. 12.
The NFL’s partnership with Roc Nation came after the league faced criticism for essentially blackballing Colin Kaepernick after his protests against police killing people of color. Rihanna previously turned down a chance to headline the Halftime show in solidarity with the exiled quarterback. “Absolutely,” she told Vogue magazine in 2019. “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”