Fresh off the 777 Tour, Johnny and Tamara stop by Complex to talk about their unique bond with Rihanna. Tamara’s got a tomboy swagger. She’s wearing a baseball cap and Jordans. She’s reserved but Johnny’s loud and playful. As two of Rihanna’s most trusted fans, they go to every signing, promo event, and concert she has in New York City, and they remember every interaction with her vividly. “The first time I met her was October 11, 2007,” Tamara recalls. “I was at her Nokia theater concert. That was during the Good Girl Gone Badera, when her hair was in a bob. She wore a gray dress and high boots.”
I was so rude when I was a little girl. I got my ass beat by my mother for that. Most of the time it was because of my mouth.
Rihanna follows them on social media. She replies to their tweets and “likes” their Instagram photos, inspiring a sense of closeness and fierce loyalty. “We know more of the real Rihanna than the general public,” Johnny says. They also know what not to say.
Navy members characterize Team Breezy as “crazy” and they call themselves “shady,” just like their leader. Rihanna concurs: “We don’t start the trouble, but that’s how we’re defending ourselves—by saying some slick shit. That’s how I’ve always been. I was so rude when I was a little girl. I got my ass beat by my mother for that. Most of the time it was because of my mouth.”
Rihanna’s willingness to let that mouth run sets her apart from certain other megastars. “I’m a former BeyHive member—reformed,” says Johnny. “I don’t want to talk bad about anybody, but there’s a strong disconnect between Beyoncé and her fans, and I was a Beyoncé fan since forever.” He finds Rihanna’s down-to-earth candor refreshing.
Johnny and Tamara’s ride-or-die devotion to their icon is clear. When the subject of Chris Brown comes up, their backs straighten. What do they think about Chris and Rihanna’s friendship? They look toward each other before answering, their voices sounding practiced and defensive. “It’s nobody’s business,” they reply in unison. On their way out they say they don’t like speaking about Brown on tape, and half-jokingly threaten to sue if this story makes them look bad.
Rihanna’s fans also rushed to her defense when the blogosphere suggested that Brown was playing her. Things seemed good between them after the 777 Tour wrapped up. First she posted a photo of herself on a private jet with the caption: “All alone in my big ole jet!!! See u soon lover.” Three days later, she uploaded a photo of Brown lying face down in bed, shirtless. Five days after that, she posted: “Home is where the cock is,” with the hashtag #frankfurt. Brown was performing in Frankfurt, Germany at the time. That same day, she put up a photo of him in her arms captioned: “I don’t wanna leave!!! Killed it tonight baby!!!” In December, Brown posted a shot of himself with Rihanna. Soon after she posted a photo of Brown’s tattooed arm over her shoulder. The caption read “Damn...I miss my nigga #thuglife #BFFlife.”
Brown flipped the script the next day by posting pictures of items from “THE KILL,” Karrueche Tran’s clothing line. Rihanna’s Instagram was flooded with comments asking her to leave him alone for good. “There’s no question that life throws us curve balls,” she wrote in an open letter to fans. “We do our best to deal with them, take the lessons and keep it moving without regrets.” Then on December 18, she posted an e-card that read, “Being single sucks. The only thing I get to do anymore is whatever the fuck I want to do.”