Why Rihanna isn’t at the 2021 Grammys—and hasn’t dropped an album in 5 years

The 63rd annual Grammys, hosted by Trevor Noah, are happening Sunday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.


And judging by the online searches monitored by Google, music lovers are eager to see Billie Eilish, Taylor Swift, Harry Styles, BTS and Beyoncé — all of whom are indeed nominated this year.

But one of the most searched-for names isn’t nominated, won’t be performing and hasn’t put out new music in five years.

The Rihanna fanbase — known as “the Navy” — is tired of waiting. And her label, Roc Nation, is in the dark. When The Post reached out to a representative about the status of the much anticipated “R9” (the album’s rumored title), the rep briskly responded: “Don’t know … haven’t heard anything.”

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Rihanna, 33, reportedly has been working on what’s said to be a reggae-inspired album since the summer of 2018. In December 2019, she playfully trolled fans on her Instagram account, posting a clip of a puppy frantically hopping around in a cardboard box with the House of Pain song “Jump Around” blasting in the background.

At other times, the famously outspoken star has snapped at her devoted fanbase over their growing impatience. When she posted vacation photos on Instagram earlier this year, with the caption “New Year’s resolution: apply the pressure,” a fan bristled: “Resolution should be releasing the new album.”

“This comment is sooo 2019. Grow up,” Rihanna fired back. “2021 energy.”

“If someone says something disrespectful on social media she claps back. She’s going to respond directly to the author. She’s always been that person to not bite her tongue. That realness is why people respect her.”

However, a five-year wait is a lifetime in the fast-moving world of pop music. Katy Perry and Lady Gaga struggled to reconnect with fans after taking a long hiatus between albums. But both Hook and Memsor Kamarake, a stylist who has worked with Rihanna, believe that the star — who has been romantically linked to rapper A$AP Rocky since her three-year relationship with Saudi billionaire Hassan Jameel reportedly ended in early 2020 — will be able to reclaim her throne.

Since 2005, she has racked up six consecutive multiplatinum albums, 14 No. 1 singles, 50-plus Top 40 hits and 93.1 million Instagram followers.

Some of Rihanna’s side hustles:
“You know how Sade drops an album, we love it and then she disappears to the English countryside every five or six years?” Kamarake said. “That’s Rihanna. She’s become bigger than the music.”

In fact, that thinking may be what’s caused the musical delay — as Rihanna has ventured from singer to fashion designer.

“Fenty … is why the album is taking so long to drop,” said Hook of Rihanna’s beauty and fashion brand (the singer’s full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty).

Rihanna’s high-profile partnership with fashion conglomerate LVMH, first announced in 2017, placed her under a powerful umbrella that includes Christian Dior, Fendi, Louis Vuitton and Givenchy. Signing the singer was celebrated as a change-agent statement for LVMH: It would be their first line created by a black woman.

“Who wouldn’t want to be in business with Rihanna?” said Kamarake, who has also worked with Beyoncé and Megan Thee Stallion. “She has been one of those people who has been at the head of so many trends that it’s hard to count them all.”

As for what Rihanna gets out of it — besides money, of course; the initial beauty line deal was reportedly $10 million — insiders say she has enjoyed the creativity involved as well as the control.

Rihanna and A$AP Rocky have been in a relationship for several months.

There’s no denying that Rihanna’s seemingly effortless push for inclusion has made huge, positive waves on the fashion industry. Her beauty line includes 40 shades of foundation, prompting competitors from Dior Backstage and Covergirl to Kylie Jenner’s Kylie Cosmetics to follow suit.

Meanwhile, the Savage x Fenty lingerie brand has tapped women in a wide range of body types — from supermodel Bella Hadid to body-positive advocate and Grammy-winning singer Lizzo — to promote its XS-3XL lingerie collection.

“Rihanna was really one of the first celebrities to tap into the inclusivity that everyone is pushing now and say, ‘Let’s expand limited ranges of makeup and lingerie to include more people,” said Kamarake. “Victoria’s Secret now has a plus-sized model that they are pushing. That would have never have happened before Rihanna.”

Yet with even all of her massive Fenty acclaim, music will always be the foundation for Rihanna, who was instantly signed by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z in 2005, when she was just 16. A decade-plus later, the charismatic performer still seems intent on releasing a new album … just on her own time.

“Rih is in a different place right now,” producer Pharrell Williams told Allure last December when asked about his involvement in the upcoming album. “Like, wow. She’s from a different world.”

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