We may not think of social commentary when we think of Rihanna, but with her new video, it looks like she has plans to change that.
After debuting "American Oxygen" on Saturday night, Rih returned on Monday (Apr. 6) with the official video -- which she released on Tidal -- for the slow-building track, which splices together dozens of short clips.
There's President Obama being sworn into office; John Carlos and Tommy Smith protesting U.S. racism during the 1968 Olympics; John F. Kennedy Jr. saluting the coffin of his father; the Beatles; American flags; an Occupy Wall Street sign; a homeless war veteran; the burning Twin Towers; fireworks; the Statue of Liberty; signs from Ferguson protests following the killing of Michael Brown; a "I Can't Breathe" sign, evoking the death of Eric Garner; a Ku Klux Klan burning cross; police pepper-spraying students; a sign that says "Police Intimidation Enslaves Us All."
Those clips span decades, relate to numerous situations and evoke an array of emotions.
"Every breath I breathe, chasin' this American Dream/ We sweat for a nickel and a dime, turn it into an empire," RiRi sings, later adding, "You can be anything at all in America."
Those words certainly seem to support the idea of the American Dream -- that is, an equal opportunity for success for all -- as an attainable aspiration for all. But many -- though not all -- of the images in the video seem to suggest otherwise.
"This is the New America," she sings. "We are the New America."
Regardless of what exactly RiRi is saying, it's clear that she's trying to say something. That, in many ways, falls in line with what she told MTV News recently about her plans for her upcoming eighth solo album.
“I wanted songs that I could perform in 15 years; I wanted an album that I could perform in 15 years,” she concluded. “Not any songs that were burnt out. I find that when I get on stage now, I don’t want to perform a lot of my songs. They don’t feel like me. So I want to make songs that are timeless.”