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Meaning of Rihanna’s Song ‘Work’, Breaking Down the Lyrics

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Right off the bat, folks, let’s just dive into the deliciously complex world of Rihanna’s “Work”. It’s all about a complex, back-and-forth relationship, with Rihanna trying to balance the highs of love with the cold, hard reality of disagreements and heartache. The key refrain of “work” also acts as a vivid metaphor for the effort she’s putting into this relationship.

Buckle up for the first verse. “Dry me ah desert him / Nuh time to have you lurking.” Rihanna’s laying down the law here. Using the Caribbean English, she’s stressing her frustration at her man’s possessiveness, likening his constant ‘lurking’ to being sucked dry in a desert. Classic RiRi, never afraid to call out the negatives.

The following lines “You took my heart and my keys and my patience / You took my heart on my sleeve for decoration / You mistaken my love I brought for you for foundation” are a crushing admission. Rihanna bares the emotional toll of the relationship, from losing her patience, to the misuse of her open heart. She’s saying she laid her love as a foundation for their relationship, but he saw it as mere decoration.

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Next up, the bittersweet chorus – “Work, work, work, work, work, work.” Here, Rihanna equates her relationship to labor. She keeps ‘working’ on it, even though it’s tough and likely not rewarding. It’s as if she’s stuck in a loop of effort and disappointment. Furthermore, with “Nuh botha text me in a crisis”, she’s calling out her beau’s only hitting her up in his crises, a clear sign of an uneven give-and-take scenario.

Zooming into the second verse, there’s a plea – “Beg you something please / Baby don’t you leave / Don’t leave me stuck here in the streets.” Rihanna is expressing fear of abandonment, hinting at the power dynamics at play. Then she makes a promise: “If I get another chance to / I will never, no never neglect you” showing a willingness to ‘work’ on herself and the relationship.

In Rihanna’s final verse, she elaborates on her lingering feelings and efforts to communicate – “Sorry if I’m way less friendly / I got niggas tryna end me, oh / I spilled all my emotions tonight, I’m sorry.” These lines underscore the dangerous blend of vulnerability and street toughness that makes Rihanna’s persona so compelling.

With its hypnotic beat and raw, emotional lyrics, “Work” is a masterclass in expressing conflicted emotions in a relationship. Rihanna’s not just doing her ‘work’ in the relationship, she’s also hard at work sculpting an anthem for all who’ve felt stuck, confused, and still hopelessly in love. Work, work, work, indeed!

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