Review: Queen B is back

Matthew Fogarty, Author

It’s been a while since we’ve been blessed with new music from legendary pop singer Beyonce Knowles. After she and her husband, rapper Jay-Z, welcomed the birth of their first child Blue Ivy Carter in Jan. 2012, she took a break from the spotlight and the recording studio. Yes, her daughter’s name did cause quite a stir in the pop culture world, but beyond that, Beyonce has been quiet for quite some time. Now, low and behold, Beyonce is back, and with a bang.

Without warning, Beyonce dropped her new self-titled album last Friday without sponsors,  promotion or pre-sales. The release crashed iTunes as fans around the world attempted to download the album, and she sold close to one million copies over the weekend. One week later, sales have already crossed the 1 million  mark, and that’s all online. The physical copy hasn’t even hit the shelves yet.

Beyonce showcases her growth since her last release, “4,”  focusing her updated style and lyrics on feminism. The album features a song called “***Flawlesswhich contains a passage from Nigerian-born writer and feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech, entitled “We Should All Be Feminists,” from the 2012 TED conference.

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller,” Adichie declared in her speach. “We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful.”

With this album, Beyonce encourages women across the globe to stand up for themselves and assert themselves as figures of authority in this patriarchal world we live in.  Her song “Blow” is a perfect example of her call to action. In the song, Beyonce tells girls that they shouldn’t be afraid to go out and get what’s theirs, and they shouldn’t be ashamed of being sexual like men are.  It’s rare to hear women talk about sexual activity in their music like male artists do, but Beyonce follows her own advice and breaks down sexual barriers by doing so. Beyonce “blows”  the top off with this song.

Beyonce also touches on romantic relationships in her album with the song “Superpower” featuring singer Frank Ocean.  She describes the feeling of being in a relationship and, in contrast, how miserable she felt when she was single, singing that “when the palm of my two hands hold each other, that feels different from when your hands are in mine. That’s just the way it is.” The feeling of holding her own hands together just isn’t enough for Queen B, implying that Jay-Z has had a major effect on the way Beyonce has written her music.

Additionally, she calls her record a “visual album,” meaning it comes with with 17 music videos, one for each song on the album. Her music alone is thought-provoking and immersive, but these visual accompaniments take her artistry to a higher level.

Beyonce’s surprise album is everything you would ever expect a Beyonce album to be. She makes her art look simple, and has once again proven herself to be one of the greatest female artists in pop culture. In short, Queen B is back to remind us just why she’s the best in the business.