Rihanna’s fifth single “Man Down,” off of her fifth studio album Loud, shows that while the Barbados-born singer may have moved off the island, she hasn’t lost touch with her Caribbean roots. The video was shot in Jamaica and co-stars Jamaican-born model Oraine Barrett.
“I’ve always wanted to do a video here, ‘Man Down’ is just the song,” Rihanna said in a twitvid that gave a behind-the-scenes look at the video. “It has to be authentic. You can’t get any realer than Jamaica.”
And real it got, as Rihanna shoots Barrett down after he forces himself on her after an intimate encounter at a dancehall party. Scenes of the starlet peddling down dirt roads on a bike, kissing locals in the street and drinking from a freshly sliced coconut gave it that extra touch of authenticity that took us back to the Rihanna we met way back in 2005. It was like a princess returning to her kingdom.
Watch the video for Rihanna's latest island-flavored single below
RiRi gives a laudable performance as the love between her and her brooding love interest turns sour over night. The two go from slow winding in a club filled with dancehall rhythms to fighting behind the shacks of the shanty town, when her would-be lover transforms into her attacker, forcing himself on her in the cover of the night.
Rihanna sells her performance as she stares at the camera with eyes full of devastation amid waterfalls and waves splashing on rocks, while her scarlet hair bursts whips around her. But Rihanna doesn't play the victim for long, as she wipes away her tears and runs down a red dirt road to grab her “little tiny two” (she calls her Peggy Sue) from her dresser drawer to exact her revenge.
Anthony Mandler seems to know his way around a good story set in the island nation of Jamaica. He helmed the video for Drake's "Find Your Love" there, with a similarly compelling narrative, although Drake's had an unexpected twist at the end. Mandler masterfully marries the dark elements of the Jamaican night with the bright sunlight and playfulness of the people during the day.
Though Rihanna does detached, electro pop quite well, there's something comforting and familiar about Rihanna in an island setting. Her performance here seems effortless and her ease with the landscape is visible. This is the Rihanna that we first fell in love with.