Beyoncé recently released her entire new album at midnight without so much as a tweet’s notice. Not only was her entire album available, but with the 14 songs she included 17 videos to go with them. There was absolutely no hint that she was even working on a new album, which is inconceivable when you see all the collaborations and videos she had for the album. In the first 3 days since it’s release on itunes, it easily sold over 600,000 copies, breaking itunes and Beyoncé’s personal records. Her unconventional (and highly successful) album release aside, the album is a game changer is another way.
Beyoncé’s self-titled album Beyoncé forever changes who Beyoncé is to us, to herself, and to the world. After getting over the initial shock of having this album dropped on me without any pomp or fanfare beforehand (although there was a great amount after by the fans), I had to take a few days to digest the album as a whole, including each video for it. The main reason is because this is a new side of Beyoncé that we have only glimpsed before, but now she has become fully realized. Bey has always considered herself a feminist, and with songs like “Independent Woman”, “Me, Myself & I”, and the obvious “Run The World (Girls)”. This album, more than any of her previous albums, focuses on themes like unrealistic expectations of beauty, female empowerment and equality, sexual liberation and realization, and surprisingly, cunnilingus.
We’ve seen Beyoncé as sexy. We know her ‘sexy’ all too well, but now she has evolved, turning sexy into sexual. But it doesn’t end there. We see the manifestation of this sexual renaissance in songs like “Blow” (which is a euphemism for cunnilingus), “Drunk In Love” (the next step in Bey’s/Jay’s “Crazy In Love”, with a lot more sex), “Partition” (showcasing Bey’s sexually submissive side), and “Rocket” (which sensualizes Bey’s body as a geographical landscape). Move over Sasha Fierce, Bey’s new alter-ego is sexually liberated and knows her own self-worth. Yoncé has a rapper-ish feel that comes off surprisingly natural. So much so, I wouldn’t mind an entire rap album in the future. “***Flawless” is surprising in the fact that Bey is showing off her rapping skills, but also in the fact that she uses an obscenity. The best line from it is when she is addressing haters by saying, “Bow down, bitches.” She also plays an incerpt from famous feminist Chimimanda Ngozi Adiche, which explains to those who don’t already know, what feminism is all about.
The release of all socially placed inhibitions is not the only change this album has, but we get to know Beyoncé more intimately than ever. We learn more personal details of Bey’s life in 14 songs than we do in the entirety of her biographical documentary Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream. Like her husband Jay Z, Bey also dedicated a song to her daughter Blue Ivy. This also marks the start of her singing career since she’s also featured on the track “Blue”. It becomes a lot deeper when she starts talking about going through postpartum depression in “Mine”, where Drake is featured as he typically is. Out of the entire album, this is the only song that suffered a little because of who was featured on it, and even that wasn’t enough to distract from the album as a whole. Possibly the saddest song Beyoncé has ever written, and the most emotional would have to be “Heaven”. We all know about Bey’s miscarriage, and although the song makes no mention of it, we as her fans know that is what it is about.
This entire album is gold (or platinum) with haunting songs like “Haunted”, the uplifting “Superpower” featuring Frank Ocean, the inspirational “Pretty Hurts”, the steamy songs “XO” & “No Angel”, and the nostalgic “Jealous”. This well-rounded and deeply personal body of work is a game changer because Beyoncé will never and can never go back to her primarily pop music past. It would be a regression especially considering how she incorporated rap, r&b, soul, and more than a little sex into this album. She has shown us a way to change your image in a positive (and profitable) way. Sure, Miley Cyrus may have done the same, but Queen Bey did it with class. No more than ever, the Queen has reigned supreme. Long live the Queen! “Bow down, bitches!”