L.A. Reid Admits He Thought Rihanna Wouldn't Be as Big a Star as Teairra Marí

We all know how this played out.

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Complex Original

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In his forthcoming memoirL.A. Reid reveals how he really felt about Rihanna the first time they crossed paths back in 2005 when Reid was the Chairman and CEO of Island Def Jam Music Group. Sharing an excerpt with Billboard, Reid recounts the day in full detail. "I first laid eyes on her in the hallway," he says. "I didn't know she was a singer or anything, just a pretty girl standing outside somebody's office. Then Jay Z burst into my office."

What happened next was Rihanna's audition for the labelhead singing BeyoncéWhitney Houston, and "Pon De Replay," which would later become her first hit. Afterwards, Reid says he told Jay, "Don't let her leave the building." Jay Z signed Rihanna that day.

Interestingly enough, Reid recounts not being involved in Rihanna's career because he was focused on developing another artist. "The funny thing about Rihanna's success was that we signed two girls at that time — Rihanna and a lovely young lady named Teairra Marí. At the label, we thought Teairra Marí would be the big star. We spent more time on her, did more work on her, paid more attention to her," he writes. "A bell went off for me, however, when, after [a label] showcase, Beyoncé came up to me and said, 'That Rihanna girl. She's a beast.'" Once again, Beyoncé was right. L.A. Reid's memoir Sing to Me: My Story of Making Music, Finding Magic, and Searching for Who's Next arrives Feb. 2.

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