What Exactly Is Rihanna Saying in Her New Song ‘American Oxygen’?

Rihanna recently released a new song for her upcoming album. Despite the title, the album has already taken on a new tone with the release of its second single, American Oxygen.

Rihanna explores the many aspects of America.

Besides the usual display of Rihanna showcasing her body, the song shows those landmark events that have taken place throughout American history. The images don’t just come from one angle. Some might try to connect this with a statement Rihanna is trying to make.

Obama inauguration

The video takes many thematic directions. (Screenshot/YouTube)

To some, it seems like a homage to the choking death of Eric Garner by police in New York City. If you look at the chorus: “Breathe out, breathe in,” or the song title American Oxygen, this makes sense.

But the imagery is broader than that, and the imagery is broader than just the subject of police brutality itself. You can’t pin down a message. It could even be taken as a tribute to the resiliency of the American spirit. This makes more sense if you consider Rihanna herself is from Barbados.

1950s family

The video celebrates all the people that constitute America. (Screenshot/YouTube)

This is Rihanna’s 8th studio album. Her collaborators and the main writers of the song are showing those triumphs and struggles which define America. With Rihanna as the singer of a song which was a long, collaborative effort, they offer the immigrant voice into a dialogue of the American experience, and tie that together with the many immigrants who call this place home.

nation of immigrants

Rihanna takes pride in being an immigrant. (Screenshot/YouTube)

But this may indeed not need any connection to a particular event, statement, or social message. It could, in and of itself, simply be an exploration for the creative people involved, needing no larger movement or message to connect into. We’ll have to wait to see the tone of further singles to find out if she or her producer Kanye West intend to take us any place specific.

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