Rihanna at the BankAtlantic Center July 14

When Jay-Z signed Robyn Rihanna Fenty to Def Jam Recordings in 2004, he surely must have thought her catchy dancehall demo "Pon de Replay" would outlive her untested talent.

But when Rihanna's debut album, Music of the Sun, dropped, reviewers dismissed her as a pretty face cribbing Beyoncé's style. Yet in spite of these critics, Music went certified gold in the U.S. Even more impressive, the then-17-year-old Barbadian singer rose above her catchy debut to worldwide success, eventually collaborating with Eminem, Kanye West, and David Guetta. Then 2006's A Girl Like Me and 2007's Good Girl Gone Bad completed her transition from Little Beyoncé to snarling pop diva.

The contrast between massive hit singles "Disturbia" and "Umbrella" certainly showed her resilience. Meanwhile, 2009's Rated R marked a cathartic moment for Rihanna after the perilous end of her relationship with Chris Brown. But balancing the gloom and anguish, "Rude Boy" threw a brash challenge at all the dudes who think they "is big enough."



With J. Cole. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 14, at the BankAtlantic Center, 1 Panther Pkwy., Sunrise; 954-835-8000; bankatlanticcenter.com. Tickets cost $28.75 to $98.75 plus fees via ticketmaster.com.

Clearly, if there's anything to be gleaned from Rihanna's story, it's that critics sometimes make mistakes.


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