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Rihanna – Hard Featuring New Jeezy

“Hard” is a 2009 platinum hit off of Rihanna’s fourth album,Rated R.The track features rapper Young Jeezy and received wide acclaim for what critics hailed as a departure from Rihanna’s previous material. Pitchfork Media, for instance, described the lyrics and musical style as “a strutting statement of power” and strength. In this video, Rihanna commands an army of men while wearing stylized military costumes, described by the designer as “military couture,” and handling a variety of artillery and other weapons in a barren scene closely resembling the deserts of Iraq or Afghanistan.


Describe the imagery and lyrical content used to lend a theme of empowerment to Rihanna’s video. How does Rihanna demonstrate that she is “so hard” or, in other words, powerful, resilient, and strong?

What elements in this video might serve to complicate this message? What do you think this signifies in terms of the relationship between femininity (specifically black femininity), sexuality, and power?

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