Posted:Sat 12 Sep 2020 09 09 54;

It might sound odd, but Rihanna once collaborated with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. Rihanna made a video for the song that didn’t feature Slash at all. Here’s why Slash wasn’t in the video — and what he thought of it.

Rihanna wearing an earing
Rihanna | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

When Rihanna’s career went in an unexpected direction
Rihanna got her start making bubblegum music before transitioning to a more mature sound with Good Girl Gone Bad. Her next album, Rated R, saw her experiment beyond the pop and R&B music which made her famous. The album includes dubstep, Latin pop, and even some rock music. Rihanna brags about being a rock star even though she’s a pop star on a track called “Rockstar 101.”

The song features none other than Slash of Guns’ N Roses. He’s credited as a featured artist even though he plays on the track rather than sings — an unusual feat. However, Slash is nowhere to be seen in the video for “Rockstar 101.” In an MTV News interview, Slash explained why.

Rihanna wearing a diamond earring
Rihanna | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images
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The rock star who isn’t in the video and the rock star who is
“I was supposed to actually be in that video,” he said. “I played on the song, and they called me up to ask me to play in the video, but my record was just coming out, and I was sort of worn thin. She was really sweet. She sent me this pleading text to come do the video, but I couldn’t make it work. I told her that me not being in the video wasn’t going to make or break it.

Though no members of Guns N’ Roses appear in the video, a member of another famous rock band does. Billboard reports Travis Barker of blink-182 plays the drums in the footage for “Rockstar 101.” In addition, part of the footage shows Rihanna dressed as Slash in a wig, top hat, and sunglasses. Her clothes show Slash had a significant impact on a video in which he did not appear. What did Slash think of Rihanna’s choice of wardrobe?

Myles Kennedy singing into a microphone next to Slash with a guitar
Myles Kennedy and Slash | Theo Wargo/Getty Images for SiriusXM

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“The video is way better with her being me than with me being me,” he opined. “All things considered, it brings an element of sexuality to it that I probably wouldn’t have been capable of. I think it’s hot, and I sent her a text this morning telling her it was definitely hotter with her doing it than with me doing it. Everything works out the way it’s supposed to.”

How the world reacted to ‘Rockstar 101’
Slash enjoyed the video for “Rockstar 101” but the song didn’t seem to resonate much with audiences. According to Billboard, the track only reached No. 64 on the Billboard Hot 100. Considering how Rihanna’s given the world several No. 1 singles, the track isn’t one of her biggest hits. However, because “Rockstar 101” is a collaboration between two musical legends, it’ll always have a place in the music history books.

Rihanna Loves This 'Honest' Song She Wrote About Setting a Lover on Fire
Matthew Trzcinski | MORE ARTICLES

February 8, 2020

Rihanna has given us pop hits of every variety. From rock ballads to dancehall jams to trap bangers, her discography is huge and eclectic. However, there’s one song she wished she could have released as a single. Here’s what she had to say.

Rihanna attends the Oceans 8 premiere | ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images

One of Rihanna’s favorite Rihanna songs
In a 2011 interview with Glamour, Logan Hill asked Rihanna which song she wished was a single. Her answer was “Fire Bomb.” AllMusic says she co-wrote the track with James Fauntleroy and B. Kennedy Seals. The track features brutally honest lyrics about hating a lover. “I just wanna set you on fire/So I won’t have to burn alone/Then you/Then you’ll know where/I’m coming from/Fire bomb/Fire bomb.”

Rihanna told Glamour “’Fire Bomb’ is one of my favorite songs…It’s not the most positive message; it’s just honest. It’s about wanting revenge, because you just feel like no one can understand what you’re feeling unless you burn them the way they burned you. And that was at a time when I didn’t really want to be angry but I couldn’t help it, and ‘Fire Bomb’ was like that therapeutic song for me.”

Discussing lyrical honesty, Rihanna said “I think honesty is the ultimate liberation in life. People want to shy away from the truth and keep sweeping it under the rug. But after a while, you pick up the rug and there’s just way too much dirt, so you might as well just be up front about it. If you just face it today, then tomorrow you can move on to something else.”

“Fire Bomb” by Rihanna
Rihanna on being honest with her fans
Rihanna said she likes being honest because it takes ammunition away from her critics. “It just reminds me of 8 Mile, when Eminem rapped every dis they could say about him. It gives you that freedom, because, what are they going to say about you now?”

Rated R, the album which features “Fire Bomb,” was a turning point in Rihanna’s music. “[The album] Good Girl Gone Bad was the first time I really took the reins in my career creatively. Then Rated R came right after that, and that’s when I realized, OK, my fans love the music; now I need to get a little deep with them, get a little more vulnerable, open up.”

She added “Rated R was the album that became really real, very honest. After that, it’s hard to go back to doing songs that are fiction. There was no coming back.”

Did ‘Fire Bomb’ work?

Rihanna attending a Fenty Beauty Presentation | Angel Manzano/WireImage
Rihanna’s creative risk with “Fire Bomb” paid off. In 2009, the Los Angles Times gave the track a rave review. The publication said “Fire Bomb” “puts Rihanna in a Molotov cocktail of a car…If these images read as corny, they’re made powerful by their settings, which also recall the classic melodrama of girl groups like the Shangri-Las, and by Rihanna’s singing, which powerfully invokes the internal conflict of a lover who knows what’s good for her but needs time to fully feel it.”

“Fire Bomb” wasn’t a hit. It wasn’t even a single. But for many Rihanna fans, it was an unforgettable artistic triumph.

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