Unless you've been under a rock this year, you've heard about Beyoncé's latest album entitled "Renaissance." She just completed a 56-show tour across the U.S. that drew record numbers. She dazzled crowds in shades of chrome while hitting sharp eight-counts in jaw-dropping designer fashions to what she calls "disco trap" music.
The evolution of her artistry since her last album is nothing short of remarkable. At first, this album polarized fans and the masses because it was so different from previous projects, but it's clear that Beyoncé knew exactly what she was doing. She eventually made a believer out of most naysayers. By shifting the culture, "Renaissance" has proven to be one of her best creations yet.
The Sound and Themes of Beyoncé's "Renaissance"
"Renaissance" is a substantial departure from Beyoncé's previous albums. Her last studio album "Lemonade" was released in 2016, and it detailed the journey of her marriage to husband Jay-Z after his now highly publicized infidelity. The music had strong elements of feminism in songs like "Don't Hurt Yourself" and Black pride in "Formation." While Beyoncé toyed with sounds different from her regular multi-stacked R&B harmonies in songs like "Daddy Lessons," she mainly stayed true to what her fans were used to while giving them a small glimpse of her world.
"Renaissance" is clearly about her liberation. The "Renaissance" album has elements of ballroom culture and house music, celebrating the pioneers of those genres. The vibes on this album are self-expression, freedom, authenticity, and plain ol' joy. The lead single "Break My Soul" contains a sample from "Explode" by Big Freedia that says, "Release ya anger, release ya mind, release ya job, release ya time." At the same time, Beyoncé croons over a '90s Black house music sample from" Show Me Love" by Robin S. The song encourages the listeners to let go and be free, which is what Beyoncé did when creating this album.
Lyrical Evolution: Empowerment Through Vulnerability
In 2021, Beyonce told Harper's Bazaar, "I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible." Beyoncé is now 42 years old. She has transcended into her IDGAF era. The lyrics on this album are bold and self-assured, with evident touches of hedonism. The lyrics of "Cozy" tell us that she's comfortable in her skin, while "Alien Superstar" shows that she's unashamed to boast of her greatness with the lyric "I'm the bar."
Anthems like "Church Girl" encourage people to accept their duality. Be spiritual, but don't be afraid to "Twerk that ass like you came up out the South, girl." Her fearlessness on this album is inspiring and creates space for us to be free and love ourselves a little more.
The Cultural Impact: The Moments of this Era
"Renaissance" left us with silver cowboy hats, glittery horses, chrome 'fits, a bit more love, and a desire to say "everybody on mute" in random places. This era pushed the culture forward by bringing black dance music back to the forefront and celebrating the LGBTQ+ community openly and fully. Beyoncé's commitment to bringing people together, spreading joy, and pushing us all to be ourselves is everything this world needs right now. She is most definitely "that girl," and she's not afraid to let us know it.