The music video for "Rude Boy" was directed by Melina Matsoukas, who also directed the video for Rihanna's previous single, "Hard", and was shot in January 2010 in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California. All of the video relied heavily on the use of greenscreen, and contained strong references to critically acclaimed famous artists, including Andy Warhol, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. In an interview with Carson Daly on his radio show, Amp Radio, Rihanna described the video as "completely different from any other video" she had done before and "pretty freakin' cool", as well as explaining its artistic qualities, saying "A lot of my videos are really dark and edgy and tough. 'Rude Boy' is more playing along the lines from my roots. We used a lot of color, but also the costumes were very Jamaican dance-hall-queen type."The video premiered on February 10, 2010 via the high definition music video provider VEVO.
The video features Rihanna in a multitude of different brightly colored and vibrant Caribbean inspired scenesThe video starts with Rihanna walking up to a drum kit, which she continues to play throughout as the song starts to develop. Throughout the rest of the video, Rihanna is seen engaging and playing with a variety of different props, including a male extra, a zebra, a motorcycle and a stuffed lion, which are intercut with scenes of Rihanna continuing to play the drum kit.There are also numerous different outfits which Rihanna adorns throughout the video, including a gold net bodysuit and a black and white zebra print catsuit, which she wears whilst sitting on top of a stuffed zebra.As well as numerous costumes, Rihanna also incorporates various 90s dancehall dance moves such as the Bogle, the butterfly, and the tatti.
Upon the videos release, several media outlets noticed a resemblance between the colorful aesthetics of "Rude Boy" and British singer-songwriter and rapper M.I.A.'s video "Boyz". Director Melina Matsoukas responded to the allegations that she had copied the idea, saying "Afterward I was like, ‘Oh, this sucks. They tore down my video .... [M.I.A.'s] video’s great too. It definitely wasn’t trying to rip anybody off at all, it was just our approach and the animation stuff, it had a similar vibe." Matsoukas went on to explain that the inspiration for the treatment of the video did not come from one particular source and comes from a variety of different pop culture icons, and concluded that "We’re all inspired by similar elements and it came together in that way." The music video was nominated in the 'Best Editing' category at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance"