Shots Fired: Rihanna ‘Is No Beyoncé’: Stephen A. Smith Faces Backlash for Divisive Remarks

by Xara Aziz
Voiced by Amazon Polly

It was the shot heard ‘round the world. Stephen A. Smith got himself caught in deep trouble after taking a dig at Rihanna, leading fans ready to cancel him like a bad check.

During Friday’s episode of ESPN’s First Take, the sports commentator said the amount of attention he received for comparing Rihanna to Beyoncé was preposterous.

“This is the controversy?” Smith asked. “All of the stuff going on in the world, I’m being accused of Black-on-Black crime because I happen to like one artist more than the other? I mean, you got to be kidding me! Handcuff me now! Put it behind my damn back! Y’all got to be kidding me! Unbelievable!”

The Bronx-born talking head was referring to comments he made on Wednesday’s airing of the talk show Sherri, where he said that the Bajan entertainer and business mogul “is no Beyoncé… there’s levels to the talent…there’s Beyoncé and everybody else.”

His remarks would eventually dominate social media discussions with hundreds of users clapping back at the television personality.

“The constant need to put Beyoncé against Rihanna is tiring. If you have to constantly bring up Bey every time Rih is doing something big… I don’t even get the comparisons. They literally have two different lanes. Just because they both sing don’t mean Sh*t,” one user tweeted.

“Couldn’t even listen to too much of this. Nobody is Beyoncé, full stop. Why bring Beyoncé up when this is about Rihanna? When folks need to tear one Black woman down, they compare her with another, causing aspersions to be casted on both. They don’t do it with other artists,” wrote another.

The uproar caused Smith to apologize stating “I apologize to Rihanna because this nonsense was not my intent. It was all done in fun…me debating with Sherri Shepherd for fun, just having laughs. That’s all. Rihanna’s phenomenal; she’s fantastic.”

He then doubled down on his apology on his K[No]w Mercy podcast stating, “I threw no hate, nor any shade… There is no reason for this,” he said. “I apologize to Rihanna because of the nonsense that this has percolated into… She didn’t ask to be in any of that. And I have to be more responsible than that because I didn’t realize people would be so freaking idiotic,” although he still stood by his remarks about Beyoncé being the “greatest performer out there today.”

The 55-year-old is currently on a press tour promoting his new memoir, Straight Shooter. Meanwhile, Beyoncé just snagged a cool $24 million for a one-hour performance at Dubai’s new Atlantis The Royal, and Rihanna is gearing up for her highly-anticipated Super Bowl halftime show scheduled to take place in Arizona on Feb. 12.

Neither Bey nor Rih have commented on the melee.

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