For the Last Time, Rihanna is Not Speaking Jamaican Patois In ‘Work’

If you’re a living organism that has walked the earth in the past month, you’ve probably heard the number one song in the country, “Work,” by Rihanna and Drake. The pair have been lauded for their chemistry and it’s pretty clear this duo is truly unstoppable when they join forces (for the greater good). But there’s an issue all these thinkpieces have been missing about the song. Rihanna is not speaking in Jamaican patois, cuz ya know, she’s Bajan. She’s speaking Bajan creole.

Don’t get me wrong, I love when pop culture embraces the Caribbean world. And I’m so happy to see island music being celebrated when performed by someone from that culture, instead of opportunistic stars in search of capitalizing off the latest pop music trend. For Rihanna, this sound is no trend, it’s her life.

However, it’s not okay to homogenize all Caribbean culture into Jamaica. And this is coming from someone who’s family is Jamaican. As someone of Caribbean descent, I want to hear people talking about Trini’s, Bajans, Guyanese people! Because a win for them is a win for all of us. HOWEVER, they are all not the same. Yes, there is a common thread that holds them together, but let’s not act like Rihanna has not been in the game for well over a decade. We know she’s not from Jamaica. Learn about her country. It’s beautiful.

To the average American who has not interacted with Caribbeans often, they may hear Rihanna and not recognize the difference between her accent and any other Caribbean’s. And that’s okay. But for all you “writers” crafting up these mighty, mighty thinkpieces, no excuses for you!


16 Thoughts

  1. You aren’t even from Jamaica. She was speaking Jamaican patois. Our creole is different from Bajans’ and she was speaking in JAMAICAN patois. It’s not our fault Rihanna wanna be Jamaican lmao

  2. Everything about the song “speaks” Jamaican. Rihanna is a fan of Bob Marley and Jamaican dancehall, yes she’s Bajan but truth be told Barbados etc doesn’t have the same popular appeal as Jamaica so we have many Caribbean people will rep Jamaica for the hype quicker than their own country. One example, Nicki Minaj, Trini who is always singing about Jamaica and imitating the accent when she feels like, does that make Jamaican accent suddenly Trini because she is Trini? I’ve always heard that Jamaica is disliked by other Caribbean Islanders probably because of a jealousy of how famous Jamaica is, and this only proves that in my opinion. And also I’ve heard Bajan accent, Rihanna sounds nothing like a Bajan. She sounds like a Yankee trying her best to mimic Jamaican Patois. Big up Barbados same way!

    1. Love that
      U spoke everything I wanted to say. Bajan creole sounds nuttn like a dat. I’m a country girl from Jamaica. Do your research before you try to defend riri. Big she upp same way.

  3. The vernacular she uses is typical Jamaican. I am a vincentian who lives with Guyanese, frequently travels to and associates with Bajans and lived in Jamaica for 3 years. She was speaking Jamaican patois. She does not want to be Jamaican though. Ever since she came out, she repped her country (check her garter in the Work video) and when she is in relaxed environments, her bajan accent is prominent. I can also say that other Carib bean islanders DO NOT hate or are jealous of Jamaicans. We love Jamaican music and culture.

  4. The song was written and produced by 3 jamaicans i think that goes without saying, plus alot of bajans admit thats not bajan creole, you not even jamaican its funny when people with “A caribbean family member” becomes an expert on caribbean culture and language more than actual caribbean nationals. Lol

  5. i understand your intentions when you wrote about this, however you are wrong, i am a Bajan, and the language being use in the song is definitely Jamaican patois.

  6. The language is actually Jamaican Patois. Sorry to burst your little bubble. Also the images in the video represented Jamaican culture. From the rasta colours on the jerk stand. Ironic. To the well known Red Stripe Jamaican Rum to the dancing. She (Rihanna) has however strongly represented her BIM culture since the beginning of her career. So dont be disheartened that she loves Jamaican culture as well.

  7. A lot of you people saying that’s Jamaican. I am Jamaican, born, raised and still here and though some words are similar THAT IS NOT JAMAICAN.

  8. Riri loves Jamaica and is forever mimicking our patois I’ve been to Barbados several times and their dialect is nothing like patois obviously this writer is an idiot the whole video had Jamaican vibes through out

  9. Everything about that song was Jamaican tho, from the rhythm to most of the lyrics even the video it self emulated a Jamaican Dancehall vibe and Jamaican patois is very distinct from bajan creole if it were we would all know…to each his/her own believe what you must as this is a rather trivial topic and not worth creating such a big deal over

  10. Its cute when ppl comment so forcefully on things they do not understad. As a bajan, born ad raised let me tell ya’ll straight…rihanna is not speaking bajan dialect in that song. If anything she is using some jamaican patois. Just because she is bajan means everything out of her mouth is classified as bajan dialect yeesh. Never have i heard a bajan say ” me haffi work” we would say “uh gaw work”. Before you come with guns blazing, learn the absolute facts.

  11. Who cares what’s the big deal if it is or not……..I bet if this song sucked no one would be claiming accents 😒do ur thing rhi rhi

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