American Oxygen

Album: single release only (2015)
Charted: 71 78
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Songfacts®:

  • Fans first heard snippets of this soulful ode to the pursuit of the American dream during commercials for the 2015 March Madness Festival in Indianapolis. Rihanna performed the tune for the first time in full on April 4, 2015 during her MMF headlining set. Hours later, the Bajan songstress premiered a CDQ version of the track exclusively on Jay Z's Tidal streaming service.
  • The patriotic video, directed by Darren Craig of The Uprising Creative, finds Rihanna standing before the American flag performing the tune, as images of major moments in American history flash across the screen. Mixed with this is footage of some the historic protests in American history, including the Selma to Montgomery marches and the Black Lives Matter protest in Ferguson, Missouri.
  • This was originally conceived by Alex da Kid, who also worked with Rihanna on her collaboration with Eminem, "Love The Way You Lie." He sent the beats of the song to Sam Harris of the Brooklyn-based four-piece X Ambassadors, who started penning some lyrics. The whole writing process took nearly an entire year as Harris gradually chipped away, creating an anthemic ode to chasing the American dream. "It's a lot of writing and rewriting and getting it right by saying as much as you can with as little as possible," Harris told Billboard magazine.
  • Once the song was demoed, Alex Da Kid started pitching it and after Rihanna showed an interest, she became involved in the writing process. "With her help and with Alex's help, we all collectively created this story," Harris said. "And it took a lot of different variations. I think there are three different versions of the verses that were written. But I wrote one thing and then Alex and Rihanna had the idea to turn it into this song about an immigrant story, coming to this country as an outsider. That was her idea, really, hers and Alex's, to turn it into that kind of song."
  • Harris never got to meet Rihanna during the extended writing process, (she just dealt with Alex Da Kid). "I didn't even really know what version of the verses she ended up recording until I heard it for the first time a couple days ago," he told Billboard.

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