Yes, Rihanna is saying actual words on her track “Work,” for those who are seemingly somehow still confused.
In a round-table feature for W magazine that supposedly praises the superstar singer, writer Brian Moylan calls Rihanna the “First Post-Verbal Pop Star.”
On her single “Work,” Rihanna sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher or a duck trapped in your neighbor’s apartment. She doesn’t make sense as much as she makes noise, commuting a story not through words, but phonetic shapings that sound something like words left out in the rain, their definition bleeding out into each other until there is nothing but a string of guttural utterances set to a pulsating beat ... Rihanna doesn’t need you to understand her, she just needs you to feel her, and her very distinct lyric phrasing lends itself more to raw emotion than it does to the vagaries of the English language.
“Sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher”? “String of guttural utterances”? The descriptors certainly left some shaking their heads.
Jezebel broke it down for everyone, too, explaining to those who still don’t get it that Rihanna is evoking Jamaican patois.
“Work” is, as you hopefully know by now, a song sung by Rihanna in Jamaican patois — a purposeful move, as her natural manner of speaking is Bajan patois, because she is from Barbados, which is different. She did this because “Work” is a dancehall song. I am no expert on patois, but these are things we can all agree on. When she sings, “He seh me haffi work, work, work, work, work,” those are actual words — patois!
Hey, Brian, in case you’re still confused, you can read the lyrics in all their glory here.