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Excerpts From Rihanna’s Rolling Stone Cover Story

The pop singer on her first kiss, her family and more

JCalderon / Splash News

Rihanna leaving Giorgio Baldi in Santa Monica, California, October 15, 2010.

There is a place is called Giorgio Baldi, and it's her favorite restaurant in Los Angeles, maybe even the world. If she's home for a week, which is rare, she might eat here four or five times. She usually gets the spaghetti and sometimes the gnocchi. Tonight, she gets both.

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Splash News

Sweet Basil

Rihanna is actually her middle name. (It comes from the Arabic for "sweet basil.") Her real name is Robyn, and that's what most of her friends and family still call her. "I get kind of numb to hearing Rihanna, Rihanna, Rihanna," she says. "When I hear Robyn, I pay attention."

 

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Theo Wargo/Getty

‘Robyn Red Breast’

Rihanna with Mariah Carey in December of 2009.

When she was about 15, Rihanna won her school's beauty pageant, and a talent show with a performance of Mariah Carey's "Hero." She always knew she wanted to be a pop star. She used to go around singing Whitney Houston and "A Whole New World" into her hairbrush; the neighbors called her Robyn Red Breast because she sang so much.

David Crichlow / Rex USA

Right is Right, Wrong is Wrong

Rihanna and her father Ronald Fenty at her album launch in Barbados, April, 22, 2006

Rihanna says that if it weren't for singing she might have been a psychologist, and she certainly has a deep sense of empathy. "I actually feel really bad for my father," she says. He was abused too – he got beat up by his stepdad when he was young. He has resentment toward women, because he felt like his mom never protected him, and unfortunately, my mother was the victim of that. I'm not giving him excuses. Right is right and wrong is wrong. I still blame him. But I understand the source."

 

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Kevork Djansezian/Getty

Pain

"I do think I'm a bit of a masochist," she says this evening. "It's not something I'm proud of, and it's not something I noticed until recently. I think it's common for people who witness abuse in their household. They can never smell how beautiful a rose is unless they get pricked by a thorn."

She thinks it explains her attraction to tattoos (14 and counting, including a skull with a pink hair bow on her left Achilles, a pistol on her right rib cage and the words Never a Failure, Always a Lesson on her collarbone), as well as her "love-hate relationship" with the media, and the fact that the darkest moments of her life are out there for public consumption. "When I think about it, I really do take some pleasure in the negativity," she says. "I don't want to say turned on by it – but I'm turned on by it."

 

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Lori SHEPLER/AFP/Getty

Fronting

Rihanna inside the Los Angeles Superior Court during the hearing in the Chris Brown felony assault case, on June 22, 2009

In the months that followed [the assault], Rihanna says, "I put my guard up so hard. I didn't want people to see me cry. I didn't want people to feel bad for me. It was a very vulnerable time in my life, and I refused to let that be the image. I wanted them to see me as, 'I'm fine, I'm tough.' I put that up until it felt real."

 

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Lester Cohen/WireImage

Chris Brown

Rihanna and Chris Brown attend the 2009 Grammy Salute To Industry Icons honoring Clive Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 7, 2009

"[Chris Brown and I] don't have to talk again ever in my life. I just didn't want to make it more difficult for him professionally. What he did to me was a personal thing – it had nothing to do with his career. Saying he has to be a hundred feet away from me, he can't perform at awards shows – that definitely made it difficult for him. That was the only thing it was going to change, so I didn't care. But you can never please people. One minute I'm being too hard, and the next minute I'm a fool because I'm not being hard enough."

 

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