Rihanna And Jay-Z: All The Details About Their Relationship

Rihanna and Jay-Z have known one another since 2004 when the young singer from Barbados was called into the offices at Def Jam Recordings, where Jay-Z worked as the president at the time. Rihanna has since admitted to being incredibly nervous about meeting the mogul and entrepreneur, and told The Guardian in 2007 that she didn't get nervous until she was actually face-to-face with the man who would change her life. As she put it, "I was like: "Oh God, he's right there, I can't look, I can't look, I can't look!"

When Rihanna and the NFL announced that the singer would be performing at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show, Jay-Z was one of the first people to congratulate his protégée and friend. Despite the ups and downs the pair have weathered, including rumors that they had an affair in 2005, it's been clear that they each care deeply about one another and support each other's careers through and through.

Here is a look at the friendship between Rihanna and Jay-Z, from their first meeting to the Super Bowl in 2023.

Jay-Z wasn't completely sure about signing Rihanna

While it's practically impossible to imagine a world in which everyone doesn't realize what an incredible talent Rihanna is, it seems that this was the case when she auditioned in front of Jay-Z, who was the president of Def Jam Records at the time. 

As the singer later recounted to Rolling Stone, she had just won a local beauty pageant in Barbados when record producer Evan Rogers spotted her and set up an audition. She moved to the United States to live with Rogers and his wife and eventually recorded her first single "Pon de Replay." That's the song that she performed for Jay-Z at Def Jam, and that performance convinced him that Rihanna was a star (via Mic).

However, Jay-Z wasn't won over until he actually saw her sing the song in person; as New York DJ Cipha Sounds later told Michael Yo that he and Jay-Z argued over whether or not signing Rihanna was the right move (via YouTube). Sounds told Yo: "He was like, 'I don't know. It might be just one song.' I'm like, 'No, I'm telling you. ... Jay, this is why you have me around. My ear is your ear. I'm the A&R."

Rumors that Jay-Z and Rihanna were having an affair contributed to her fame

The relationship between Rihanna and Jay-Z has always been shrouded in confusion, with some insisting that the pair had an affair when they first began working together. The rumors go all the way back to 2005 and were apparently serious enough that Beyoncé and Jay-Z reportedly split up for a year because the "Cuff It" singer wasn't sure what to think in the face of all the stories.

As the Daily Mail reported, author J Randy Taraborrelli claimed, "Beyoncé didn't know what to make of this, and it actually ended up breaking them up for a time. They spent maybe a year apart from each other because Beyoncé just wasn't sure of what to make of the situation with Rihanna."

It turns out that the rumors were nothing more than just that. Publicist Jonathan Hay has since admitted to planting the stories in the press after being hired to promote Rihanna's first single "Pon de Replay" (via Elle).

Rihanna was nervous about meeting Jay-Z for the first time

Even though that first meeting with Jay-Z went so well that she ended up with a record deal, Rihanna was still very nervous the first time she auditioned for him. This makes sense; after all, she was a teenager from Barbados and he was one of the most famous and powerful people in the music industry.

Rihanna later detailed just how nervous she was while sharing memories with her fans via her Instagram story. As reported by the Evening Standard, the singer was happy to admit: "Feels like just yesterday I was shaking in the hallways of Def Jam waiting to audition for Jay."

Rihanna told a similar story to The Guardian in 2007. She explained that being called into Jay-Z's office for her audition was nerve-racking enough, and actually seeing him in real life was difficult to fathom. As she put it: "I remember being extremely quiet. I was very shy. I was cold the entire time. I had butterflies. I'm sitting across from Jay-Z. Like, Jay-Zee. I was star-struck."

Jay-Z has given Rihanna a lot of advice

Jay-Z and Rihanna's friendship extends beyond the music industry and how to create and produce albums and songs that will be successful. The famous rapper and mogul admitted in a number of interviews that he gives the singer advice about any number of topics, though he also shares that he can't control the outcome or what Rihanna decides to do with that advice.

While speaking to Hot97's Angie Martinez in 2013, Jay-Z was asked if he ever steps in if he feels like Rihanna is doing something she shouldn't. He replied: "That's not my place, no, again, I can't control the outcome of her life. I can't intervene, I can give advice when asked and that's it. I can provide information and then life has to play out, life has to happen" (via Glamour).

Rihanna has also opened up about what advice Jay-Z has offered her over the years. While speaking on "On the Record" with Fuse, Rihanna admitted that Jay-Z once told her: "You must be a really great person because great things keep happening for you. Don't ever change who you are, always remain humble, the same" (via YouTube).

Rihanna is friends with both Jay-Z and Beyoncé

Despite the rumors that plagued the three of them early in Rihanna's career, these days Rihanna is good friends with Jay-Z and Beyoncé. In a lot of ways, this makes plenty of sense, as all three are successful individually and they've all had a hand in one another's success throughout the years.

In fact, it turns out that Beyoncé might have also been part of Rihanna's rise to fame in the very early part of her career. Producer L.A. Reid has said that he didn't immediately see Rihanna's appeal as a performer when he first met her, but Beyoncé helped change his mind. In his memoir "Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who's Next," Reid wrote: "At the label, we thought [singer] Teairra Mari would be the big star. We spent more time on her, did more work on her, paid more attention to her." He goes on to add that things changed when Beyoncé threw in her opinion and adds: "Beyoncé came up to me [and said] 'That Rihanna girl ... she's a beast' (via Vanity Fair).

Rihanna once accused Jay-Z of selling out

Despite the rosy stories that are often told about Jay-Z and Rihanna's friendship, everything between the two hasn't been completely easy and perfect. In 2019, Rihanna hit out at Jay-Z for agreeing to perform at the Super Bowl and told Vogue: "I couldn't dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people." Rihanna went on to explain to the outlet that she didn't want to be a "sellout" by performing for the NFL in the wake of protests waged by former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick.

The comments were seen as particularly inflammatory as they were made after Jay-Z announced that he had entered into a partnership with the NFL to weigh in on the league's entertainment strategy. Jay-Z's official statement via the NFL explained: "With its global reach, the National Football League has the platform and opportunity to inspire change across the country. This partnership is an opportunity to strengthen the fabric of communities across America."

Rihanna never confirmed if she was addressing the news with her comment, though many have believed so. Rihanna also did not address her past comment when announcing that she planned to perform at the 2023 Super Bowl herself.

Jay-Z believes Rihanna is a generational talent

One thing that has been made abundantly clear over the years is that Jay-Z truly believes in Rihanna's talent, and he hasn't been shy about saying so. In fact, the rapper was one of the first people to praise the singer after the NFL announced that she would be performing at the Super Bowl in 2023. In his press release sent via the NFL, Jay-Z commented: "Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn. A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment."

Jay-Z also reportedly helped Rihanna prepare for the big day. Capital FM reported that Rihanna called on her old friend and mentor to help her get the show organized. The outlet also noted that Jay-Z is not the only person in Rihanna's corner, as her boyfriend A$AP Rocky "has been extremely supportive and although she's a little nervous about the whole thing, he's helped her by being by her side and by reassuring her."