Memphis Bleek Ft. Rihanna – “The One” (2005)
Shortly after finding the Barbados star, Jay-Z threw her into the game by putting her on a song with his lifetime sidekick Memphis Bleek. Rih sounds like a super-young good girl on this soulful banger off Bleek’s 534, but there are definitely some hints of brilliance here.
Rihanna Ft. Jay-Z – “Umbrella” (2007)
It’s hard to overestimate the impact that this track had on the pop world—for months after its release, it was difficult to walk outside in the rain without getting this song’s infectious hook stuck in your head for the foreseeable future (or at least until the rain stopped). The video also went a long way toward shattering whatever wholesome image Rihanna had garnered for herself in her pre-Good Girl Gone Bad era, a transition that she completed with the downright dirty “S&M” from 2010′s Loud.
T.I. Ft. Rihanna – “Live Your Life” (2008)
This track’s bizarre yodel intro bleeds effortlessly into another classic, which sees Rihanna gliding above the beat effortlessly and leading the charge into the hook of one of the King of the South’s most commercially successful hits. This song is a playlist staple at any event from a graduation party to a club night.
Wale Ft. Rihanna – “Contemplate” (2009)
Even though Wale criticized his own solo debut as an under-shipped and under-worked (by his then-label Interscope) album, there were still a few gems on it. Among them was “Contemplate,” a self-conscious track about failed relationships and loneliness in the limelight. Rih swings through for a trippy and emotionally-scarred hook that sets the tone for Attention Deficit in a gripping way.