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Of sun, sea 'n' sand

Rihanna is the new musical sensation from the Caribbean



BOMB FROM BARBADOS It was a beauty pageant that led Rihanna to the music scene Photo: AFP

What with all the pioneers it has produced in the realm of hip-hop and R&B, all Barbados needed to become the hottest music destination of the Caribbean was a female artiste who would package the native music in a way that would appeal to international music enthusiasts. Seventeen-year-old Rihanna did the honours.

Little did Rihanna know that her career would go the musical way. Before she won a beauty and talent pageant at high school, she was just another average kid in school who loved singing songs with her friends in the school bus. The beauty pageant paved the way to meet an old family friend who had come down from New York for his Christmas vacation to Barbados.

Three weeks later, she signed her contract, and moved to New York to co-compose 12 sample tracks with Evan Rogers, her producer. Rihanna's debut album, Music of the Sun, features most of these tracks.

The title of the album pretty much reflects the sentiments of the songs inside — native Caribbean music blended with contemporary hip-hop, R&B and Soul rhythms. Though Rihanna hasn't used any traditional lyrics or vocals in her songs, she has successfully captured the dialect, energy and feel-good vibe of the kind of music synonymous with Barbados.

The first single from the album, "Pon de replay", has been a dance-floor rage worldwide over the past few weeks. And the follow-up single "If it's lovin' that you want" takes it a step further and exposes her versatility and vocal range. Interestingly, unlike her earlier counterparts, Rihanna does not incorporate too much rap, and focuses more on the smooth reggae rhythms and hip-hot accomplishments.

With "Pon de replay", she made music-lovers worldwide sit up and take notice, and with her second single, she goes a little sublime and makes you listen to her closely — the bringing-a-smile-on-your-face kind of music and pleasant happy vocals which make you listen to the track all over again.

As we wait for the third and decisive single to hit music channels any day now, let's raise a toast to the land of the sun, sea and sand that has given us more top-class music artistes than one.

A. VISHNU

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