Following her Savage x Fenty Fashion Week show, Rihanna hosted her star-studded Diamond Ball in New York on Thursday night, featuring guest performances from Pharrell Williams, DJ Khaled and Megan Thee Stallion. But the biggest surprise of the night came when Rihanna took the stage during Pharrell’s set and performed her verse from “Lemon,” her collaboration with Williams’ N.E.R.D. from 2017, for the first time live.
The performance felt very off-the-cuff, with Rihanna announcing her presence from the front of the audience with a microphone and climbing the stage while accompanied by a bodyguard. Between her many business ventures, it’s been a while since Rihanna sang or rapped for a crowd, let alone put out new music, and the audience was full of smartphones capturing the moment even as Rihanna laughed in amazement during her bars.
As Rihanna herself hinted at the Savage x Fenty show, there may be more musical collaborations from her on the horizon. She expressed her love of the singer/rapper Lizzo in a red carpet interview, following her standing ovation during Lizzo’s performance at the BET Awards. She also confirmed, back in May, that a new reggae album was on the horizon; Rihanna teasingly said that she would titled it R9, after the code name given by her fanbase, known as the Navy.
“I’m about to call it that probably, ’cause they have haunted me with this ‘R9, R9, when is R9 coming out?’” she said. “How will I accept another name after that’s been burned into my skull?”