It’s been just over a month and a half since Beyoncé dropped her bombshell album so eloquently entitled, well… Beyoncé. I must say that I think the simplicity of the title is so perfect because it reflects simplicity and normalcy in a life, world and project that is anything but simple and normal. It’s complicated to say the least. At any rate, while the social media world, news and blogosphere were all abuzz with the non-stop Beyoncé chatter, I kept my peace. First because I needed time to actually look at and listen to the project to form my own opinion. I have kids and I don’t listen to certain artists when they are around unless and until I have thoroughly reviewed the content and determined it to be appropriate. As much as I love Mrs. Carter’s music, I realize that she curses a lot (i.e. damn and ass) in her songs and thus, I can’t let my kids listen to that and pick that up. Since this album has several songs with explicit ratings, I already knew it was a no-no. The second reason I decided to keep my peace was because as I listened to and read some of the feedback that others had, I thought people are really reading too much into this and I wasn’t in the mood to debate.
Since the Beyoncé brouhaha was reignited when she and hubby Jay-Z performed their latest collabo “Drunk In Love” at last Sunday’s Grammy Awards, I figured I’d go ahead and share my two cents about the album, the Grammy’s and whatever else comes to mind while I am getting this out.
So where on earth do I begin? Well… let’s start here. I’m a Beyoncé fan, not a Stan which is clearly evidenced by the fact that I had never heard that term before this album came out. I think that she’s an amazing entertainer and I truly respect her hustling spirit. No matter what you may think of her music, her image, her message… there’s one thing that one can’t deny – this woman is a HARD WORKER. I don’t think that she’s a perfect human being who can do no wrong and I don’t feel like I’m going to pass out at the thought of her walking into a room. I think she’s a diva who has earned her status as the reigning queen of pop! Now… about this album…
People have had so much to say (good, bad and ugly) about this project and Beyoncé’s alleged new image. Here are some of the most common themes I’ve come across and my thoughts on those.
This project solidifies Beyoncé as a feminist and changes the game in terms of drawing attention to the plight of feminism. Yeah, not so much. So, she expressed her sexual freedom throughout the album and had a feminist verse read on one song… that’s nice. I mean, I enjoyed that and all, but let’s not forget that on the ever so bipolar “***Flawless,” she also instructed females (women and little girls alike as far as I can tell – there was really nothing to differentiate) to bow down b****es. “I know when you were little girls you dreamt of being in my world – don’t forget it, don’t forget it… respect that, bow down b****es.” It goes on and eventually gets to the feminist part, but I certainly don’t think this qualifies her to become the face of feminism.
I certainly could be wrong, but I just don’t see how those dots connect. Feminism is defined as the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Are we implying that she’s feminist because she openly discusses her sexual adventures? And what qualifies one as a feminist anyway? Are you feminist because you say you are or must you put in some work on the front line? I don’t claim to have all the answers to these questions, but I do have questions. Perhaps she can take responsibility for drawing attention to this issue. I mean after all, we are talking about it. But aside from that, I think it’s just an album with a little girl power in the form of a woman knowing what she wants, what turns her on and openly discussing her fantasies. I don’t consider myself to be a feminist, but if this album makes Beyoncé one, then maybe I’m one too… I’m just sayin’.
Then there’s this…
Beyoncé is trying to be like Rihanna with this album. Come on people, I don’t think so. Beyoncé and Rihanna have completely different styles, even now. Rihanna’s persona is more that of a certified bad girl, while the Beyoncé we see on this album comes across to me as a “Grown Woman” who is coming into her own. I think Beyoncé is trying to be like Beyoncé with this album. Period. As she gets older she is probably less interested in people pleasing and more interested in living a more free life. I think it’s a very personal body of work from an artist who is maturing as a wife, mom and woman and is very likely reaching (or has reached) her sexual prime. Do I talk this openly about my um… adventures with my husband? No. Can I relate to her and some of the things she’s talking about on this album? Yes. And if you’re a wife and mom… you probably can too (though I can understand why we might be a bit hesitant to admit it with some of this stuff). From confessing to your mate “I’m not feeling like myself since the baby…” (“Mine”) to staring into your child’s eyes declaring “Come on baby won’t you hold on to me… When I’m holding you tight, I’m so alive…” (“Blue”), it’s relatable.
Take the song partition for example… this line in particular… “Take all of me, I just wanna be the girl you like… the kinda girl you like is right here with me.” Let’s be honest, any wife that desires to remain married to her husband for a long time should be able to relate to that line, at least a little bit. Not to the extent that we lose ourselves, but if we believe in monogamy, we want to ensure that we have our spouse’s “undivided attention.” So while the full song is definitely a bit raunchy, as with everything, we take it for what it’s worth and get what we can get out of it. This 30 something year old wife and mom has decided to give us a glimpse into her highly sexual world because as she states it, “God****mit I’m comfortable in my skin.” I say that’s a bit different from a 20 something with an eff the world mentality (though I love me some RiRi… don’t judge me).
Now about that Grammy performance… you know, I think Mrs. Carter could’ve chosen a less risqué song to perform (XO, Blue, Heaven, Superpower – she had options). But, the fact remains… she didn’t. She decided to go with the song spinning on the radio right now – the one that would make our jaws drop and most importantly, the one that features one Mr. Sean Carter. The woman has a new album out, perhaps we shouldn’t really be so surprised. She is an entertainer and everyone knows that there are few greater collabos that entertain better and get audiences more hype than one featuring Jay-Z and Beyoncé. For years people have been craving more insight into their personal lives while they’ve passionately guarded that info – well now they’ve given it to you… front and center stage! Be careful what you ask for, it might be more than you can handle.
So kudos to Bey on just doing her… I may not agree with it all, but it’s that thing that tends to happen when you reach your 30s and decide – screw them, I need to do this for me. It’s definitely one for the history books, but perhaps not one for the family room or the kitchen table.