Rihanna already debuted “American Oxygen” via Tidal earlier this month, but the inevitable has happened. The track is now available for purchase on iTunes, as RiRi announced via Twitter at 12 a.m. The visual accompaniment was also posted to YouTube this morning. Watch it here.
One of the first clips you see in the music video is of President Obama taking the Oath of Office with the First Lady by his side. Rihanna dances and sings in front of a waving flag as images of American history periodically flash on the screen. You see a much younger Paul McCartney landing in America with his fellow Beatles, Bob Marley, views from space, the Statue of Liberty, and footage of the Michael Brown protests.
“You can be anything at all, America, America,” she sings, proclaiming the American dream and encouraging you to soak — rather, breathe — it all in. Around the four minute mark, the song fades into Robert Kennedy’s announcement of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. You see images of King’s funeral and of the motel where he was shot. Shortly thereafter, RiRi starts singing “This is the new America, we are the new America,” and her words are accompanied by images of children in a playground.
The song, much like a presidential speech, portrays a hurtful past while fostering hope for the future. It’s a 180 from BBHMM, and not as raw as “FourFiveSeconds.” We’re wondering what the rest of R8 will sound like, but there’s no question that Rihanna is giving us variety. Watch RiRi perform “FourFiveSeconds” with Kanye West and Paul McCartney at the Grammys in the clip.