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Rihanna Performs New Song in Indiana, Slams RFRA: ‘We Are the New America’

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Rihanna headlined the March Madness Music Festival in Indianapolis on Saturday, where she debuted her long-awaited new song “American Oxygen” and unloaded with both barrels on Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

The singer’s set included fan favorites “Stay,” “Diamonds,” “Four Five Seconds,” and “We Found Love,” but it was her debut of “American Oxygen,” which had long been played in promotions for the NCAA tournament, that had the crowd buzzing.

Standing in front of a projected American flag, Rihanna sang:

Breathe out, breathe in/
American oxygen/
Every breath I breathe/
Chasin’ this American Dream/
We sweat for a nickel and a dime/
Turn it into an empire/
Breathe in, this feeling/
American, American oxygen/
American oxygen/

This is the new America/
We are the new America”

The singer also reserved some loud criticism for Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was amended last week following complaints that it legalized discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Who’s feeling these new bullsh*t laws that they’re trying to pass over here?” the singer exclaimed from the stage just prior to singing her hit song “Live Your Life.” “I say f*** that sh**. We’re just living our motherf***ing lives, Indiana!”
(Warning: Explicit Language)

Rihanna thanked her fans via Twitter after the show, writing that it gave her “goosebumps” that her fans knew all the words to “American Oxygen,” though the song had not yet been released:

Hours after the conclusion of the show, Rihanna made the studio version of “American Oxygen” available online through Tidal, Jay-Z’s new paid streaming music service.

Other performers at this year’s March Madness Music Festival included the Zac Brown Band, Imagine Dragons, Weezer, Lady Antebellum, and Passion Pit. According to the Indianapolis Star, Bleachers’ Jack Antonoff also weighed in on RFRA by wearing a T-shirt that read, “Protect LGBTQ Hoosiers” and encouraging attendees to donate to Freedom Indiana, an organization working to fight the law.


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