Mary J. Blige Confirms Rumor About Rihanna’s ‘Umbrella’ Song

Back in 2007, Rihanna debuted her new single “Umbrella” to a worldwide audience. The video was a smash, and the song marked a pivotal evolutionary moment in the singer’s image and career.

“Umbrella” went platinum six times in the U.S. alone and has become synonymous with RiRi. But as the story goes, the track was once offered to the queen of hip-hop soul, Mary J. Blige.

Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige | Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Saks Fifth Avenue

‘Umbrella’ was offered to two artists before Rihanna

Popular songs often have legends attached to them, and that’s the case for “Umbrella.” It was written by the song-writing trio Terius “The Dream” Nash, Christopher “Tricky” Stewart, and Kuk Harrell. Fun fact: Britney Spears was the inspiration behind it.

In 2017, The Dream did a guest spot on Drink Champs and spoke about the famous record. Fans may recall a 2007 incident when Spears was at a gas station and thrashed a paparazzi’s car with an umbrella. The Dream said he felt for Spears and the song was for her.

“That record was written out of pure pressure in life,” he said. “I was getting checks out of the game. I had a publishing deal. It clicked. It’s almost like having an out of body experience. I watched myself walk in and write that record. The record was written for Britney Spears.”

After Spears’ team turned it down (they supposedly didn’t see its potential), The Dream and his team offered the song to Mary J. Blige.

Mary J. Blige passed on ‘Umbrella’

For a while, some believed it was just a rumor that “Umbrella” went to Blige before Rihanna. But the “Love Yourself” singer confirmed the story during an appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen.

While promoting Power Book II: Ghost, Blige did a Q&A segment that included fan questions, and someone asked if the “Umbrella” rumor was true.

“Yes!” Blige replied. “It was during Grammy time for me. It was a big Grammy time; I was nominated for eight Grammys and I was trying to get myself together for that. And during that time, that’s when ‘Umbrella’ came to me and I couldn’t do anything with it because I was so busy with my own life.”

Blige added that the record didn’t really fit with her sound and she passed on it. She felt like it was meant for Rihanna.

Cohen asked if she regretted the decision and Blige said no. “It was tailor-made for Rihanna,” she said, stating that it was perfect for her.


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‘Umbrella’ was a career-changing hit for Rihanna

By 2007, Rihanna already established herself with hits such as “Pon De Replay,” “SOS,” and “Unfaithful,” and when “Umbrella” came along, her career skyrocketed. Once Jay-Z and L.A. Reid secured the record for her, she took it and put her own spin on it.

Along with that hot track, Good Girl Gone Bad spawned the single “Don’t Stop the Music” and the album earned RiRi her first Grammy. At just 19 years old, she dropped one of the biggest songs of the decade and has been in the game ever since in fashion, beauty, and music.