That Rihanna reign just won’t let up. After premiering the track “B***h Better Have My Money” about a week ago, Rih Rih returns with a new song, “American Oxygen.” The tune has been teased as part of the NCAA's March Madness TV campaign and is likely to appear on her next album, R8. After premiering at the NCAA Final Four tournament over the weekend, the song is now the latest TIDAL exclusive track. But despite being a synergistic piece of marketing, is the song any good?
“Breathe out, breathe in, American Oxygen / Every breathe I breath for this American dream / We sweat for a nickel and dime / Turn it into an empire,” croons Rihanna over the Alex Da Kid’s tribal production. Backed by strong background vocals, Rihanna delivers a great performance, making you feel the actual angst of the lyrics. Interpolating common themes of the American dream, she doesn’t let you forget that living the dream requires real work, which in turn is fueled by hope.
Being associated with a sporting event, “American Oxygen” could very easily have been a by-the-numbers inspirational song created for everyone and no one at the same time. However, Rihanna’s swag and Alex Da Kid’s production take many of the stock elements of such songs and elevate “American Oxygen” past your standard theme song fare.