Rihanna, Drake

Kevin Winter/Getty Images/YouTube

UPDATE: Game on! What better time to revisit their whole, entire story...

In theory, everyone who's friends with Rihanna is thereby involved in a hot friendship.

But some of RiRi's friendships are hotter than others.

Fresh from collaborating on "Work," she and Drake are keeping company again, on stage and off, and nothing has changed—minus hair color and sideburns length—since they first entered each others' orbit. Their song is a massive hit, their chemistry is off the charts and they've got everybody talking.

And we're now convinced that's just how they like it...

"I'm single right now and it's not that I'm like, 'Oh, pro-single, yes, I hate men!' I just think I have so much on my plate that I can't even find the time to entertain a steady relationship or anything serious. Or even a text. Right now it's just crazy," Rihanna said on Ellen in February, when "Work" had just dropped.

When Ellen DeGeneres hinted that Drake may be a good romantic option if he was on tour with her, the Barbadian songstress rolled her eyes and reminded Ellen, "He's not touring with me." "Well he should," Ellen insisted and Rihanna agreed. "He totally should, maybe next time...I would love to go on tour with Drake, actually. That has to happen."

Yeah, we'd buy tickets to that. And we'd bring our body-language experts, relationship counselors, Drake and Rihanna's moms, all their friends and anyone else who could give more definitive insight on just how far these two like to take it. Because they obviously have a great affinity for each other, and have ever since they met. 

Seven years ago.

Rihanna, Drake

Steve Granitz/Getty Images; ABC/RICK ROWELL

Aubrey Drake Graham and Robyn Rihanna Fenty's acquaintanceship first blossomed in 2009, with Drake later pinpointing a birthday party as the location at which they met..

They got on well, as their later reflections would attest to, but in hindsight Rihanna couldn't have been less emotionally available. It was in February 2009 when longtime boyfriend Chris Brownhit her after a pre-Grammys party and what was going on behind closed doors was memorably bared for all to see. Rihanna unwittingly became the object of so much scrutiny, with legions of fans supporting her but, unfortunately, so many more judging her every move after Brown's arrest.

Rihanna, Chris Brown

Courtesy of Instagram

But the ever-fierce singer continued to live her life in the meantime, and she and Drake were first spotted out together socially—with a group of people—at Lucky Strike Lanes & Lounge in New York in May 2009.

And though Rihanna and Brown's relationship would sporadically rekindle off and on for several more years, the night at Lucky Strike apparently featured a thunderbolt.

Drake actually immediately denied that things got romantic, telling Hot 97 days later, per MTV News, "It's not like that at all. I'm being honest. She's just a friend, that's all. A great artist."

But was he actually just towing the party line?!

"We weren't really sure what it was," Rihanna told Hot 97's Angie Martinez in November 2009, indicating that things at least got intense, if not serious. "I definitely was attracted to Drake, but I think it is what it is, like, it was what it was. We didn't want to take it any further. It was at a really fragile time in my life, so I just didn't want to get too serious with anything or anyone at that time." 

That sounded perfectly understandable, but not long afterward Drake muddied the waters again when he told XXL's Doin Lines column: "People thought I was dating Rihanna, and that was semi-true."


John Phillips/Getty Images

He then rapped on "Fireworks," which dropped in May 2010, "Who could of predicted Lucky Strike would have you stuck with me / Damn, I kept my wits about me luckily / What happened between us that night / It always seems to trouble me / Now all of a sudden these gossip blogs want to cover me / And you making it seem that it happened that way because of me."

And while out promoting his debut album, Thank Me Later, he let it be known to The New York Times in June 2010 that he actually felt blindsided. "I was a pawn," he said in characterizing what happened with Rihanna. "You know what she was doing to me? She was doing exactly what I've done to so many women throughout my life, which is show them quality time, then disappear. I was like, 'Wow, this feels terrible.'"

Look at Rihanna, teaching the lessons...

But then Drake opted for damage control, clarifying to MTV News, "I feel like when people write about it or try to take an excerpt from me describing it, it's gonna sound negative. And in no way was it negative. I'm at one of the greatest places in my life—I'm on top of the world. I'm extremely confident, so it's very rare that anybody, let alone a woman that I like, makes me feel nervous or makes me feel small." He called Rihanna "an overwhelming and incredible person" (which jived with what he rapped on Rick Ross' "Made Men": "One of my baddest women ever I call Rihanna / but that's 'cause her name is Rihanna").

Rihanna, Drake, What's My Name

And musically, these two were still very much on, both of them knowing that it was high time to take their enigmatic relationship and make a record. So Drake was featured on her October 2010 tune "What's My Name," which made its way to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 after a few weeks—Rihanna's eighth chart-topper and Drake's first.

They took the stage together for the first time at the 2011 Grammys a few months later, their smokin' performance leaving everyone wanting more from them, onstage and off.

Drake, Rihanna, 2011

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Perhaps feeling somewhat mollified by all the good fortune and more time spent getting to know his bewitching pal, Drake's version of what first transpired between them grew less accusatory.

"At the time it hurt, but she didn't mean to. I'll never put that on her," he told Elle in October 2011. "I was hurt because I started to slowly realize what it was. I guess I thought it was more. That was the first girl with any fame that paid me any mind. You spend days reading about this person in the magazines. All of a sudden you have this number-one song and you're at some birthday party and there she is. And you're just some naive kid from Toronto staying in some s---ty-ass hotel who got invited to this party on a whim. That's just how it happened."

Drake, Rihanna

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

But like Rihanna had first said, the timing wasn't right—and timing is just about everything.

"I like consistency," Drake told Us Weekly in November 2011, the perfectly benign reflection drenched in meaning. "I like to form connections with people on records, and I like the same thing in life and in love." Asked if there was a chance of him and Rihanna coupling up in the future, he admitted, "I don't know. It's always love [between us] though. We're all young and we're all busy...That's talk for a few years from now."

At times it was as if Drake and Rihanna were the only guy and girl in the world, steamy nights out at dance clubs and strip clubs doing nothing to quell the speculation, but then...

In June 2012, Chris Brown and some pals got into a brawl with members of Drake's squad (wow, we didn't even call them squads back then) at a New York nightclub. Bottles were thrown, blood was spilled, and the rumor was that Rihanna (who was not there) was the one who sparked the altercation.

A couple weeks later, Brown sang on the track "Game Don't Lie": "One on one, what you scared bruh? Huh, matter of fact, 'Take Care' bruh."

"Take Care," of course, being Drake's latest collaboration with Rihanna off his album of the same name (which would go on to win the Grammy for Best Rap Album).

Rihanna, Drake, Take Care


Drake's rep at the time denied any involvement in the fight, but in a GQ interview in summer 2013, the rapper acknowledged bad blood with Brown.

"I wish we could sit down, just like you and me are right now, and talk it out man-to-man. But that's not going to happen," he told the magazine. "I'm not confrontational, but if someone challenges, I'm not going to back down."

"Two rappers fighting over the woman," he continued. "[Brown's] not even a rapper, but still, it's the last way you want your name out there. It distracts from the music. But he's made me the enemy, and that's the way it's gonna stay, I guess."

However, in showbiz, tomorrow your enemy can become your very best frenemy. Drake and Brown eventually ended up in the studio together, and when Drake hosted the ESPY Awards in 2014, they even teamed up for a sketch.

Later that year, Brown described the motivation behind the bit as "let's break this whole beef thing and make light of the situation because it shows growth and maturity."

But back to that summer of 2013 for a sec, when Ellen DeGeneres, who obviously has been shipping the two for years, showed Drake a picture of Rihanna during a little did-you-date-this-girl game.

"Yeah, great girl, we had our moment," he said nonchalantly. "You know...always support and have love for her and, yeah." "Mmm, a little nervous, OK," Ellen deadpanned, bless her.

They continued to inspire each other creatively as well, with Drake performing RiRi's "Stay" in concert in March 2014 and then sampling the power ballad on "Days in the East," as he continued to become a major hip-hop force to be reckoned with. (He's racked up 14 Grammy nominations since 2014.)

In February 2014 he told Rolling Stone, a couple of nights after a Rihanna-Drake club sighting recharged the rumor mill, "She's the ultimate fantasy. I mean, I think about it. Like, 'Man, that would be good.' We have fun together, she's cool...But we're just friends. That's my dog for life."

He added for good measure, "I'm not after p--sy like I was three years ago, when I was trying to make up for all the years when no girl would talk to me. But I haven't met somebody that makes everybody else not matter.

And yet when Drake performed "Days in the East" at the OVO Festival in his native Toronto in August 2014, pictures of Rihanna with devil imagery flashed behind him onstage.

Days on the East side Ohhhh #the6 #drake #ovofest

A video posted by @misteralee on

"My album title is VIEWS FROM THE 6. The 6 is Toronto. Rih is a great girl who I know is about to kill this tour with Eminem. It's all love!!" Drake tweeted after the scenery caused a stir.

Rihanna never publicly reacted.

2015 was a quiet year for them, with Drake focusing more on sports (and Serena Williams) while Rihanna casually dated Lewis HamiltonTravis Scott and Karim Benzema and became party pals with Leonardo DiCaprio.

But after yet another year in which the perception of her love life made all sorts of headlines, Rihanna referred to Chris Brown as her last actual boyfriend and indicated that the casual hookup life isn't for her in a cover story for the November 2015 issue of Vanity Fair.

"If I wanted to [just have sex for fun] I would completely do that," she told the magazine. "I am going to do what makes me feel happy, what I feel like doing. But that would be empty for me; that to me is a hollow move. I would wake up the next day feeling like s--t.

"When you love somebody, that's different. Even if you don't love them per se, when you care enough about somebody and you know that they care about you, then you know they don't disrespect you. And it's about my own respect for myself."

Rihanna, Drake

247PAPS.TV / Splash News

But lo and behold, not long after ringing in 2016, the long wait for new RiRi music was over and we got "Work"—which also happened to be another hot collaboration with Drake—and now "Too Good" from Drizzy's Views.

"It wouldn't be a record without Rihanna, would it? We do well as a team," he told Beats 1's Zane Lowe in May.

So while they're not on tour per se, he's now joining her onstage here and there—at the Brit Awards in February (where they also took some time out to party in London) and then again when her Anti World Tour touched down at the L.A. Forum. Sources told E! News that, as always, they were having a great time together.

And so it all began again, the sexiness, the speculation, the searching for clues that Drake and Rihanna are in it to win it this time. Not that any of that has ever gone away during the past seven years.

But that's fine. We like consistency too.

Rihanna, Drake

Splash News

In late June, Drake joined Rihanna across the pond, where they partied at Nicole Scherzinger's birthday bash in London and performed "Work" and "One Dance" together at Rihanna's show in Manchester.

"Shout out to the most beautiful, talented woman I've ever seen," Drake told the audience at Old Trafford. "She goes by the name of Rihanna...I'm gettin' my heart broken."

A source told E! News a few days ago that Drake and Rihanna are indeed dating again, and that his feelings never went away.

We sensed that.

(Originally published May 7, 2016, at 5 a.m. PT)

  • Share
  • Tweet

We and our partners use cookies on this site to improve our service, perform analytics, personalize advertising, measure advertising performance, and remember website preferences. By using the site, you consent to these cookies. For more information on cookies including how to manage your consent visit our Cookie Policy.