Rihanna has confirmed she turned down this year’s Super Bowl halftime show in support of former NFL star Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick was the first in a series of National Football League (NFL) stars to kneel during the US national anthem before matches, with players saying they wanted to draw attention to racism and police brutality.
In a wide-ranging interview as the cover star of US Vogue’s November edition, Rihanna also hit out at Donald Trump for failing to describe recent mass shootings as “terrorism”, and spoke about her long-awaited ninth album.
Ahead of the Super Bowl, it was widely rumoured that the singer had been first choice to perform at the show, which is broadcast as part of the climax to the American football season and watched by millions across the world.
Asked to confirm whether or not the reports were true, the 31-year-old replied: “Absolutely. I couldn’t dare do that.
“For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sell-out. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organisation that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
Maroon 5 were eventually announced as headliners, and went on to perform at the show.
Agreeing to discuss politics, the star was also asked about gun laws in the US and how she felt following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which happened within hours of each other in August.
At the time, Donald Trump focused on mental health as the cause of the shootings, saying: “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger – not the gun”.
Responding on Instagram, Rihanna posted a screen-grab of a tweet by the US president calling the El Paso shooting “an act of cowardice”, saying: “Um . . . Donald, you spelled ‘terrorism’ wrong!”
“It is devastating,” she told Vogue. “People are being murdered by war weapons that they legally purchase. This is just not normal. That should never, ever be normal.
“And the fact that it’s classified as something different because of the colour of their skin? It’s a slap in the face. It’s completely racist.
“Put an Arab man with that same weapon in that same Walmart and there is no way that Trump would sit there and address it publicly as a mental health problem. The most mentally ill human being in America right now seems to be the president.”
Rihanna, who released her last album, Anti, in January 2016, was also asked about her ninth record, and said conflicting projects had stopped her from working on it.
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Named the richest woman in music by Forbes earlier this year following a string of hits including Umbrella, We Found Love and Diamonds, the star has also founded a fashion empire which includes her Fenty Beauty cosmetics line and Savage x Fenty lingerie brand.
“I have been trying to get back into the studio,” she said. “It’s not like I can lock myself in for an extended amount of time, like I had the luxury of doing before.
“I know I have some very unhappy fans who don’t understand the inside bits of how it works.
“I like to look at it as a reggae-inspired or reggae-infused album. It’s not gonna be typical of what you know as reggae. But you’re going to feel the elements in all of the tracks.”
She added that the Navy, her fan club, have “earned it”, saying: “They got me here.”
Rihanna also denied claims she is over making music now she has projects to work on.
“Oh, nooo. Music is, like, speaking in code to the world, where they get it. It’s the weird language that connects me to them.”
The full interview can be found on Vogue’s website.