It was one of the most memorable appearances of her career, with a medley of songs performed throughout the night and a string of jaw-dropping wardrobe transformations. And yet the whole event was overshadowed by a more titillating chapter in pop-culture history: After taking out a billboard in Los Angeles a couple of days earlier congratulating Rihanna, Drake presented her with the award while professing his undying love for her on live TV. Suddenly what should have been her big moment became all about him.
Rihanna winces slightly at the mention of the rapper’s name before her eyes glaze over with cool indifference. “The VMAs is such a fan-focused awards show, so having that energy around me, and knowing the people who had received the award in the past, made it feel like a big deal,” she says. “Waiting through that speech was probably the most uncomfortable part. I don’t like too many compliments; I don’t like to be put on blast.” When I ask about the current state of their friendship, her attitude is sanguine. “We don’t have a friendship now, but we’re not enemies either. It is what it is.”
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