Why Rihanna and A$AP Rocky’s Love Story Shines Bright Like a Diamond

After nearly a decade of friendship, Rihanna told A$AP Rocky to shut up and drive—and now the couple’s first child is on the way.

Rihanna was never in a rush to settle down.

She wasn’t too busy to date or have fun, but the 34-year-old always had a lot on her plate, whether she was recording eight platinum-selling albums, winning awards, touring, being a style icon, designing clothes or, in 2017, launching her instantly revered Fenty Beauty brand.

None of that has changed, Rihanna is still as in demand as ever. But after going ’round and around with guys who weren’t her Mr. Right, she wants A$AP Rocky to stay.

First her friend for the better part of a decade, the 33-year-old rapper, born Rakim Athelaston Mayers, confirmed one of the more shabbily-kept secrets among the celebrity set last spring, when he called Rihanna “the love of my life” in an interview with GQ for its June/July 2021 issue.

She’s “my lady,” he declared happily.

After that, they were just full-on, matching-at-the-Met-Gala, cheering-from-the-front-row boyfriend and girlfriend. No need to keep that secret.

But as 2021 drew to a close, eagle-eyed fans who are treated to daily accounts of Rihanna’s comings-and-goings thanks to her ubiquitous paparazzi escort started to wonder…

ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, 2021 Met Gala, Red Carpet Fashion, Candids

And sure enough, after some stylish camouflaging on the bump front throughout the last couple of months, she let it be known Jan. 31 that she was pregnant with her and A$AP’s first child.

“It was harder for me to keep it from my posse, because they’re around me, they know my habits,” she told E!’s Justin Sylvester at a Feb. 11 Fenty Beauty/Fenty Skin event. “They’re like, ‘You don’t want something to drink? You’re not smoking?’ And I’m eating all the things I’m not used to eating. They know I hate sweets and I’m all of a sudden asking for cookies and donuts. But finally, I just had to let it all out, and they were all shocked, of course, as the world was shocked as well.”

Shocked and awwwwed, if you will.

Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, A$AP RockyPress Agency/NurPhoto/Shutterstock

But new yen for sugar aside, it was only so much of a surprise. Rihanna having been pretty clear for years about her desire to have children one day (while also admittedly being alarmed by the birthing part).

She told Kanye “Ye” West for Interview magazine in 2010 that she ideally wanted the whole traditional package, though as a daughter of divorced parents, she was perfectly aware that saying “I do” didn’t necessarily mean everything.

“I definitely think a child deserves both parents,” the Barbados-born singer said. “It would be selfish of me, because of my pride and independence to say, ‘Oh, I just want a sperm donor, because I can do it myself.’ I can do it myself, but that’s not fair. I don’t know if I’ll be married or anything. But however the father is in the child’s life, he’s going to be in the child’s entire life.”

Also noting that life “never works out according to the book,” she added, “I’m just saying that whatever comes my way I’ll be able to handle it. But in a perfect book, there would be marriage and kids.”

Also only 22 then, she told West, “I have a lot of other stuff to accomplish before I get to kids so… whenever the time is right, I’ll just know. I don’t really plan on the age. It could be a year from now. It could be 10 years from now. Whenever is right.”

In the wake of the agonizing turbulence of dating Chris Brown (in 2010 the “Run It” singer was still on probation for his 2009 assault on her after a pre-Grammys party), Rihanna was seeing then-L.A. Dodgers star Matt Kemp. They amicably parted ways in 2011 and soon she found her way back to Brown, telling Rolling Stone in early 2013 that she knew public opinion wasn’t on their side, but “I decided it was more important for me to be happy.”

“Even if it’s a mistake, it’s my mistake,” she concluded.

Just months later, however, Rihanna told Glamour that she couldn’t wait to be a mother but was “nowhere close” to making that a reality, adding, “I don’t even have a potential baby daddy!”

Well, she kinda did, she just didn’t know it yet.

A$AP Rocky had joined forces with Rihanna to record a remix of her song “Cockiness (Love It)” in 2012, which they then performed together at the MTV Video Music Awards that September—part of her medley with, ahem, “We Found Love.”

The audience would’ve been forgiven for thinking something was up between them.

“I didn’t mean for the ass grab to be the thing,” A$AP told Complex in November 2012 about giving her bum a squeeze as he leaned in to kiss her on the cheek after spitting out his verse. “I don’t fiend for fake publicity s–t.”

He continued, in a more gentlemanly fashion, “Rihanna is what I want to be, as far as having a big core following. She’s very successful. She’s been doing it for years. Think about it. ‘Pon de Replay’….So ’05, ’06, ’07, ’08, ’09, ’10, ’11, ’12…. She’s got seven years in this s–t. Shout-outs to that young lady, and hopefully, with the grace of God, seven years from now, I can say the same.”

Rihanna coolly disentangled herself in the blink of an eye at the VMAs, but everyone wanted to ask A$AP about that moment, wanting to know whether it was planned or spontaneous—and whether she was OK with it. “I got like this cocky holy ghost that came into me,” he explained to Hot 97’s Angie Martinez. “We had fun, we had a great time and I thank her for that. I doubt I could get that close if she didn’t want me to do something like that.”

Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, ASAP Rocky, August 2013SplashNews

Their professional chemistry, at least, was off the charts, as he then spent three months in early 2013 as the opening act on Rihanna’s Diamonds World Tour.

“That was a special request,” A$AP said on Power 106 when asked how that coveted call to join her about (before the interview descended into jokes about grabbing butts).

Before the tour even started, though, the “L$D” artist started dating Chanel Iman, and they were reportedly engaged for a couple of months before breaking up in 2014. “I got really depressed because I knew that she deserves better than me,” A$AP told MTV the following March. “That’s the truth and everybody knows it. And I don’t wanna be the guy to Lauryn Hill her, if you know what I’m saying.”

Was he talking about “that thing”?

“I’m just saying, just to be mature about things in life—I do know where I am in life—I’m still having fun and I’m young and I need to focus on my career,” he explained. “I still have her [as a friend]. She’s still in my life. It’s a win/win situation.”

The Grammy-nominated “F–kin’ Problems” artist and Rihanna stayed friends and occasional collaborators all the while, A$AP returning for a few later dates on the Diamonds tour while she starred in his November 2013 video for “Fashion Killa.”

They dated other people in the meantime, but their paths kept crossing. And A$AP wasn’t shy about letting it be known that he was admiring her from afar. (And really afar sometimes, the rapper spending a month in a Swedish jail in the summer of 2019 on an assault charge for his role in a street fight. Less than two weeks after A$AP was released and hightailed it back to the U.S., maintaining throughout that he acted in self-defense, a court found him guilty but determined the crime didn’t require an additional prison sentence.)

That December he and Rihanna elegantly posed for a red carpet pic together at the British Fashion Awards. Then days after E! News confirmed in January 2020 that Rihanna and Hassan Jameel were no longer a couple, she was spotted looking chummy with A$AP backstage at the Yams Day Benefit Concert.

But again, longtime friends, right? “They have a long history and she’s just having fun,” a source told E! News at the time, describing the singer as “single.”

That being said, Rihanna also told British Vogue in early 2020, when asked where she pictured herself after another decade, “Ten years? I’ll be 42! I’ll be ancient. I’ll have kids—three or four of ’em.”

And would she be up for starting a family herself if Mr. Right didn’t come along?

“Hell, yeah,” she replied. “I feel like society makes me want to feel like, ‘Oh, you got it wrong…’ They diminish you as a mother if there’s not a dad in your kids’ lives. But the only thing that matters is happiness, that’s the only healthy relationship between a parent and a child. That’s the only thing that can raise a child truly, is love.”

So over the previous 10 years, she’d changed her tune a bit from what she told West, but the endgame was still the same: RiRi wanted to be a mom.

“Since I turned 32, I’m realizing life is really short,” she said. “You don’t have a lot of time to tolerate s–t, you know? You put so much on your plate. When you’re overwhelmed, you need to start cutting things out. And I’m overwhelmed too much. What’s happening now is that I’m going back to black and white. My gray area is shutting down.”

Ultimately, she concluded, “I’ve always searched for what I can hold on to in terms of sanity and loyalty. I’ve always searched for what’s real.”

Well, speaking of…

Not long after she gave that interview, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and the world as she knew it—live music, in-person events, meetings, etc.—shut down. Paparazzi were reduced to snapping celebs jogging and walking their dogs.

And that summer Rihanna tapped A$AP to be a face of Fenty Skin and they both had a bit of a glow while teaming up to promote the brand (albeit not in the same room, due to the pandemic). She quizzed him in a “Face to Face” video for GQ while he tossed 15 questions her way for Vogue. Asked what the hardest part of working with her was, A$AP replied that it was “not goofing off and laughing the whole time…The hardest part is not having too much fun.”

They also drove from Los Angeles to New York together (on a luxury tour bus, naturally), taking in the sights at a few national parks and soaking up the vibes in culturally rich cities like Memphis along the way.

“I met myself,” A$AP told GQ last spring when asked who he met on the road trip. “Being able to drive and do a tour without feeling like it was an occupation or an obligated job agreement, I feel like that experience is like none other. I never experienced nothing like it.”

He also took the opportunity to record over that summer, his still-in-the-works album All Smiles “absolutely” influenced by being in a relationship with Rihanna.

“I think it’s important to have somebody that you can bounce those creative juices and ideas off of,” he shared.

A$AP didn’t go to a club for almost a year due to the pandemic, but when he did finally venture out again—to West Hollywood nightspot Delilah—it was with Rihanna in early 2021. They had already been in Barbados together over Christmas, but still trying to not be too obvious about it, they arrived in different cars, a few minutes apart. They also left separately, but went home in the same car.

Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, ASAP RockyGotham
/GC Images

Asked what it was like being in a committed relationship after years of being a proud ladies’ man, A$AP told GQ, “So much better. So much better when you got the One. She amounts to probably, like, a million of the other ones. I think when you know, you know. She’s the One.”

After he mentioned his dad, who emigrated from Barbados to the U.S. and settled in New York, where A$AP was born, GQ asked him if he was ready for fatherhood.

“If that’s in my destiny, absolutely,” he said, adding, “I think I’d be an incredible, remarkably, overall amazing dad. I would have a very fly child. Very.”

Hard to disagree with that, especially now.

“How the gang pulled up to black history month,” Rihanna captioned a Feb. 2 post, a series of photos revealing her bare pregnant belly, her first Instagram acknowledgment of her expectant status.

“When I first found out, it’s not real, you know? I was like, ‘This is not for real, right?'” she told E! on Feb. 12. “And then, it’s almost like you don’t want to get too excited too soon because it’s great news, but you want to see that it’s going to see its way through. And I’m so glad that we’re this far along and now I can celebrate with everyone.”

Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, A$AP Rocky, FansDiggzy/Shutterstock

And if you’re wondering if there might be more news on the horizon, the kind that shines bright like a diamond, we’d say that what we know for sure is that Rihanna is going to do what feels right.

She told West for Interview back in 2010 that, while she wanted to get married, living the commitment was more important.

“I think people put a lot of pressure on the title of marriage and the actual wedding,” she explained. “But I think you should already feel married before you get married. I think a wedding should just be a celebration of the marriage, and you should already feel like husband and wife. You should feel like your love is completely unconditional to this person, that it doesn’t matter what—that you will be down with this person forever. I’d have to have that—and I’d know when I had it.”

As fate would have it, A$AP is down to treat her like she’s the only girl in the world.

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