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The emancipation of Beyoncé

After her professional split from Mathew Knowles, Beyoncé has transformed how we consume music audio visually. World Stop! The artist, wife and mother has been the moment for over a decade – from 4 to Renaissance
Fri, Jul 29, 2022

PHOTO: BeyLegion Twitter

Beyoncé has spent over half my life being the centre of attention and industry royalty.

For the next few minutes of your time though, I’d like to focus on the Bey we have known from 2011 to date. The period that marked The Emancipation of Bey also changed the trajectory of her career for the better. The professional split from her father’s management was a defining moment for Beyoncé the artist, the wife, the mother and the legend. It solidified her status as a global icon with star quality that exceeded the limitations of girl groups and other paths that contributed to her foundation.

What made the year of 4, which was released in 2011, so special was the interactive aspect of it all.

Without taking away from the artist Mathew Knowles trained her to be, Beyoncé was now steering the wheel of her transformation, and we got to experience this with her. Not only was she stepping away from her family, albeit in a professional sense, she was defining who she was while creating one of her own. A large part of the commercial success of 4 can be attributed to the confidence and self-awareness she displays.

Very few know or will recall that following this release she performed at Glastonbury along with a free show in London. We would later come to discover that she bodied both performances while dealing with morning sickness and exhaustion as she was expecting her first child.

It was a true testament of the work ethic of the machine that is Beyoncé – she delivers before even considering rest. She once said something to the effect of a less evolved version of her not being able to f*ck with the woman she is today and from observation, I can only echo that tune.

Following the success of 4, Beyoncé would go on to change the music industry with the release of her self-titled album in 2013 and truly, I know where I was when that digital dropped. The visual album that came with absolutely no warning set the tone for the filmmaker we would begin to experience as she gave us front row seats to her boundless creativity.

The critically acclaimed album was a defining moment in her career. It elevated women, encouraged us to take control of our narratives and promoted being imaginative without boundaries. It is through looking back on her work that makes me realise she has been giving us a road map of that imagination throughout – one which is committed to breaking rules and creating new structures altogether.

Her material is expansive and has proven to become a point of reference of what is to follow next. With self-titled came the Mrs. Carter Show World Tour which was, in hindsight, an extension of the same creativity she had introduced us to in her 2013 film Life is But a Dream, just months before the album dropped.

Lemonade would follow in 2016 – striking this balance between the music and visuals. All this to say, there is no doubt that she cemented herself as the standard for audio-visual releases and a master of that craft.

With the release of Renaissance today, the first album that hasn’t been a surprise since 2013 and one of the most exquisite rollouts I have seen from any artist in years, I, like the rest of the Hive, have been excited to see what mother has in store for us, and what she has to say.

I like to follow the rule of thumb that states we shouldn’t judge albums on the first listen. However, from my first listen, I already knew how I felt about this remarkable body of work. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve played it this morning as it has been on loop.

What Beyoncé has offered us with Renaissance is an astounding and strong assortment of sounds. I cannot stress how seamless the transitions on the album are. She oscillates between monologues, soft vocals and disco trap like it was nothing to her. The effortless fun she was having experimenting creatively is evident and just as she exclaimed on one of my early favourites, Alien Superstar, she is 1 of 1.

An astounding project that sounds like the fully realised version of Blow, Beyoncé has never sounded so sure and so certain about herself and her ability as she does on Renaissance. She is her own competition and sincerely, there is absolutely nobody that can rival Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. Joy is definitely what she has brought us and for that, we love her deep right back.