Since February, fans have only gotten fleeting glimpses of Rihanna in paparazzi photos and on the red carpet of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Gala. But we’re all getting to see a lot more of the singer in the new video for Kanye West’s 808s & Heartbreak gem “Paranoid.” According to BET’s Sound Off blog, the bootlegged “Paranoid” video above was screened by Def Jam’s L.A. Reid last night at a celebration announcing Island Def Jam’s spring plans.
Rihanna dropped out of the public eye immediately following an altercation with then-boyfriend Chris Brown the night before the Grammy Awards, where both stars were scheduled to perform. (Look back at the pair’s Grammy Weekend.) She’s made a slow transition back into public life since the February 8th incident, but this video announces her return in a big way: Filmed in stark black-and-white like a film noir and boasting messages like “traumatic delusions” and “betrayal” in the opening credits, Rihanna is perfectly cast as either a damsel-in-distress or a femme fatale who is (artfully) driving highways late at night to escape what’s behind her. The intended symbolism is pretty obvious: Rihanna is trying to distance herself from recent events and begin anew while wearing some pretty scandalous lingerie and posing fiercely.
Stylistically, the video combines the portraiture of Herb Ritts with David Lynch’s Lost Highway. The video also features very little Kanye, as the rapper graciously steps out of the camera’s gaze to let his co-star make a silent statement. (Kanye does make an awesome cameo in the video for The-Dream’s “Walkin’ on the Moon,” which also debuted at the Def Jam event.)
Brown made his own return to music this month, appearing on the duet “Turntables” on Ciara’s new album Fantasy Ride. He has been charged with two felonies and pleaded not guilty to both.