Some people will never forget what Chris Brown did to Rihanna. Nearly four years have passed since he was arrested for assaulting his then girlfriend, but the police photo of her battered face started appearing on posters around Stockholm, Sweden, this month in protest of Brown’s Nov. 19 concert there. No one has claimed responsibility for the guerrilla campaign yet, but on her new album, Unapologetic, Rihanna seems eager to forgive what Stockholm won’t. She duets with Brown on ”Nobody’s Business,” which finds the pair cooing, ”I’m gonna make you mine/And it ain’t nobody’s business.”
Maybe Rihanna is just trying to avoid being seen as a victim. Her image relies on her tough-girl persona and pop-chart domination. During the week of Nov. 5 alone, she rocked the catwalk at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show; premiered her album at Jay-Z‘s 40/40 Club in New York; performed on Saturday Night Live; hit No. 1 in France, Germany, and England with her new single, ”Diamonds”; and elicited an endorsement from Skyfall star Daniel Craig, who told the gossip site Globalgrind.com that he thought she’d make a better Bond girl than Beyoncé. (Why? ”She’s dirtier.”) Meanwhile, she’s become the most liked person on Facebook, with 62.5 million fans. ”That is just a hair over the amount of people who voted for our president,” observed Bravo’s Andy Cohen, who interviewed her on the social-networking site Nov. 8. ”I think Rihanna won the election.”
Clearly, over the past few years she has emerged as a much stronger artist, with a more calculated marketing plan. She’s not interested in public acceptance. (Many won’t give it to her anyway. This is, after all, a woman who’s making nice with her abuser.) But ”Nobody’s Business” allows her to come across as the paragon of Oprah-approved forgiveness — or maybe just the rebel girl who doesn’t care what people think — without actually having to answer more complex questions about her ex. And judging by the crowd’s wild cheers at 40/40 when the track played, she doesn’t have to.