I ain’t here to argue about her facial features or here to convert atheists into believers. I’m just tryna say the way school need teachers, the way Kathie Lee needed Regis, that’s the way I need Beyoncé.
I honestly don’t have time. If you don’t see her greatness at this point, debate your Mama, Daddy, bald-headed Granny, Auntie with the sideways wig, whoever. Just not me.
Today, September 4th, 2016 is not only Beyoncé‘s 35th birthday, but it’s also the 10th anniversary of the release of B’Day. The older I get, the more I’m realizing that Bey is an oracle. I guarantee she had this planned when she released it on her 25th birthday. So, here’s my take on #10YearsAslay.
B’Day is considered by many to be the album that solidified Bey as a star, and where we all first started noticing strands of hair mysteriously disappearing after every listen. Inspired by her experience on the set of Dreamgirls, the film she was in the middle of shooting, it was recorded right after she wrapped filming. It took three weeks to complete the entire album. She rented out the entire Sony Music studio and worked with different producers at the same time in different rooms.
She recorded three songs a day. Out of 25 tracks recorded for the album, 10 were chosen. It went on to become one of the most important Beyoncé albums to come out career-wise; an album full of Houston bad-bitch-empowerment-bops. “Upgrade U”, “Freakum Dress”, “Get Me Bodied”, “Irreplaceable”, “Ring The Alarm.” The next year, April 3, 2007, she released an anthology video album along with the re-release of B’Day, the deluxe version. 13 music videos of pure slay. She wasn’t playing.
In 2008, she released I Am. . .Sasha Fierce. We were introduced to her alter ego “Sasha Fierce.” The album was released as a dual-disc album. “I Am . . . ” was a disc of slower R&B ballads and “Sasha Fierce” contained more uptempo “Play with your X-box, nigga, not me” songs. Many Bey fans look at IASF as the weakest of her albums.
While I agree, it also has some of my favorites by her (mostly deluxe and bonus tracks). Also, “Single Ladies” was produced from that album, so it automatically goes down in history as a pivotal piece of work. “Ego” had my confidence on a-hunna and “Why Don’t You Love Me”, to this day, is in my top 5 Beyoncé songs. She also won 6 Grammys in one night for that album. The “I Am. . .World Tour” is one of her most memorable tours. LOOKS, MEDLEYS, STAGE PRESENCE. She turned it.
Then, after a 3 year hiatus. . .We got 4. While most Bey fans came into the Beyhive fold with B’Day, 4 was the album where I sent in my application. Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours. 4 to me was the perfect follow-up to IASF. It showed tremendous growth artistically and vocally. Even on the bops, “Countdown,” “Run The World,” “Party,” she gave you VOCALS. Her voice was deeper, smoky and full of surprises. It was a return to emotion-laden R&B cuts. To this day, “Start Over” makes me tremble. She also worked with Frank Ocean on the album for the first time, so it was bound to be a hit.
Then. . .baby, then she shook the world with the release of Self-Titled. December 13, 2013 will be forever historic. On a quiet Thursday night, while most of us were reeling from the latest episode of Scandal, we were hit on Twitter with news that Beyoncé had released an album on iTunes. Now, most of us didn’t believe it because why would she just drop an album with no promotion? We went through cycles of dashed hope with the release of “Grown Woman” and we were tired of being lied to. Lo and behold. . .THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT SHE DID.
Not only did she release an entire album, but she made it a visual album. Every single track was accompanied by a video. I had no idea how she would top 4, but there she was. . .topping 4. I was inconsolable. Between 2011 and 2013, she showed even more growth. Themes of monogamous love, feminism, sex and sexuality, loss, insecurity, alladat were explored. It was a side of Bey that we never seen before. She owned every part of her life and was not afraid to speak on it. Love anthems like “Drunk In Love” and “Rocket” spoke explicitly about the love she has for her husband and the love they make. Ballads like “Jealous” and “Mine” explore the less rosy parts of love and marriage, and bad-bitch bops like “Partition” and “Flawless” simply spoke on liking to fuck and hoes recognizing your greatness. I stanned for a good year.
Then on February 6th 2016, she topped herself again. She released “Formation.” The song and video together were anthemic and came along at the perfect time. Amidst the increasing violence we saw enacted against black and brown bodies, Bey proudly proclaimed “I love my baby heir with baby hair and Afros. I like my negro nose with Jackson five nostrils”.
She basically said, “Yes, ho. I’m black. Don’t forget it.” The lyrics were accompanied with the visuals of unabashed blackness, all black women dancers, a little black boy dancing in front of cops and the cops putting their hands up, southern blackness on full display and the words “stop killing us” written on a concrete wall. I cried real black ass tears. She also managed to slip in an eff you to respectability politics with, “When he fuck me good, I take his ass to red lobster.” You can fight white supremacy and appreciate some good D simultaneously, boo.
This led us to her unforgettable Superbowl performance the next day. I told you, she’s an oracle.
All of this culminated in the release of Lemonade on April 23, 2016. We were told about it prior to its release but weren’t exactly sure what it was. We were told it would be an hour-long HBO special and that was it. Lemonade is Bey’s latest visual album release. It was a tidal exclusive at first but eventually became available to other retailers. Once again, she topped herself. Themes of love, infidelity, jealousy, forgiveness, and redemption ran the gamut of the album. Lemonade‘s visuals, though are more of a movie. There are no breaks in between each song on the visual part. Each song is separated by Beyoncé reciting poetry by Warsan Shire. It reads like a story. Each song has a specific emotion attached to it. Completely absorbing, Lemonade is in a league of its own.
I don’t know what Beyoncé has up her sleeve next, but one thing I do know is that I will stop asking, “How is she going to top herself this time?” She’s proven over and over again that that is not an issue.