Rihanna Was Surprised At 'Negative Attention' From Chris Brown Collaborations

By Jocelyn Vena

The racy new photos from Rihanna's Esquire U.K. cover feature have gotten plenty of attention, but inside the magazine the singer opens up about her recent collaborations with ex-boyfriend Chris Brown, after a bit of pressure from the reporter.

In a lengthy back and forth, Rihanna grows progressively more annoyed when asked about recording two tracks with her ex Chris Brown, given their history, including a 2009 assault. "Some love it, some hate it, some love it but still hate that we did it. But the response in the end has been incredible," she tells Esquire, but soon tries to steer the conversation away from the topic and toward her meal.

When asked again about the collaborations — remixes to the songs "Birthday Cake" and "Turn Up the Music" — Rihanna says it was "definitely" controversial: "The whole thing caught me a little off-guard to be honest ... especially the amount of ... negative attention. Because it never occurred to me how this was going to be a problem. It really didn't."

She later insists, "I thought people were gonna be surprised that we finally did a record together, but I didn't see how people could think it was a bad thing. In my mind, it was just music."

RiRi then notes she was surprised that because they recorded songs together, people jumped to the conclusion she and Brown were dating again. "OK. In a completely professional environment. And on a complete professional note. I mean, if I went back to him [as a girlfriend], then that's a whole different discussion," she said. "And if I ever do, then that's something that y'all have to talk to me about when — if — that ever happens. Until then, look at it for what it is.

"I think a lot of people jumped to an assumption that was incorrect, and they ended up looking stupid. Because of a song. How stupid. If I was together with every collaborator I worked with ... f--- my life."

In the end, Rihanna once again reiterated she didn't have much else to say on the questions regarding her relationship, professional and personal, with Brown and how it relates to their work together.

In a less-abrasive interview with Ryan Seacrest back in March, shortly after Ri and Brown dropped the two tracks, she called their work together "innocent." "We did two records — one for my fans, one for his fans — and that way our fans can come together," Rihanna explained at the time, brushing off the criticism even then. "There shouldn't be a divide. It's music, and it's innocent."

VMAs 2018