The musical reconciliation of Rihanna and Chris Brown raises a welter of emotions: outrage, sadness, bewilderment, revulsion. It’s not merely, as some armchair psychoanalysts have suggested, evidence of crippling codependency; nor is it solely a morally obtuse publicity stunt. It’s business as usual, consistent with the music that has made Rihanna a prolific hitmaker: From "Breakin’ Dishes: to "S&M," her songs explore the violence of sex and, yes, the sexiness of violence. "Turn Up the Music" is proforma club R&B that spices up Brown’s simpering lead vocals with some flirty cooing from Rihanna. Her "Birthday Cake" is a more sonically arresting piece, a raucous mix of buzzes, beats and X-rated chants. Brown announces,"I wanna fuck you right now"; Rihanna ups the ante by turning sex into a power play: "I’m-a make you my bitch." Is it coincidence that Rihanna is the dominatrix, and Brown the submissive who gets crushed beneath her leatherboot heel? The revenge is symbolic, of course. Unfortunately, symbolic victories are the only kind available to Rihanna – and evidently, they’re the kind she cares about most.
Listen To Rihanna Feat. Chris Brown's "Birthday Cake" (Remix):
• Photos: Rihanna's Best Looks