President Obama may be struggling with his approval ratings this year, but Beyonce sure isn’t. She dropped a “visual album” on the public last Thursday (an hour after Scandal’s winter finale went off) and the world lost their collective minds. There were more blog posts, tweets, comments, debates and folks lined up to hate or to stan than anything we can think of in recent memory. Was it because instead of the traditional months of promotion, Beyonce just dropped it on iTunes and let her fans find it and spread the word?
Was it because she included a quote from a TED talk on feminism that Nigerian author Chimamanda Achide gave? (We’re not sure if we’re more surprised that Beyonce likes TED talks or that she knows who Achide is.) Was it because she got her grown woman REALLY on and dropped a few explicit references into her music? Is it because she’s the Queen of Black People? We don’t know. But here are five important things we now know about Beyonce.
1.Beyonce got the game on lock. Some people claim Beyonce changed the music industry forever because she didn’t promo her new self-titled album. Um, what? She’s been on tour for almost a year, she’s on the blogs every other day, her Tumblr is updated constantly, “leaks” of her on video sets and rumors about an album coming out have been pouring out from all over the place –including from Beyonce herself – and when she cut her hair earlier this year, it was a major.news.story. In this super-sized social media world, of course Beyonce’s release would make more noise. Here’s a real-time look at how Twitter exploded when the record dropped last Thursday at 12 midnight Eastern. And here are the Internet’s best reactions to the news.
For all the people who say Beyonce changed the game, we say, not quite. Wait until a mid-level next artist tries this and see what happens. Even other celebs were amazed by B.’s audacity but she is uh, Beyonce, bitches.
Note to the rest of the music industry: If you’re not already a multi-platinum major-label artist with a significant social media presence, don’t think you can copy Beyonce’s success, which as of this writing is 1 million records sold via iTunes. Bow down.
2. Beyonce is a grown ass woman. In case you haven’t figured out that a 32-year-old married woman with a child is grown and enjoys having sex, this album will let you know. If she’s not singing about ‘Yonce on your mouth like liquor,’ on “Yonce” she’s dropping songs like “Rocket” which starts out with “Let me sit this ass on you” and then sounds like she channeled Prince on his sexiest day but took it a step farther.
And the “Rocket” video – well. You’ll have to see that for yourself. If you thought she was doing something by pawing at Jay-Z’s belt in the “Déjà vu” video, then there’s his sexy cameos in two videos on this album and the lyrics in “Partition” about B on the floor of the limo and Jay being horny and them not getting to the party before he “Monica Lewinsky’s all over my dress.” OK, girl, we get it, you really, really like having sex with your husband. Pop your collar, Jigga. You are the luckiest man in the world.
3. Beyonce is a feminist. We think. Quoting Achide had every Black female in the vicinity of social media celebrating Beyonce like never before. She’s hot! She’s sexy! She’s rich! She’s married with a kid! AND she’s joined us in feminism by quoting a smart, respected Nigerian author’s TED talk about feminism. It was as if bell hooks and Melissa Harris Perry had a baby and she grew up to be Beyonce!(hooks and Perry are both noted, openly defined feminists, FYI. Both are also straight, as far as we know, just in case you’re taking the whole baby thing literally.)
But that led to this –a heated debate on the feminist site Jezebel between Black feminists and white ones who argued that to critique anything about Beyonce was an implicit indictment of Black women, and that maybe Beyonce wasn’t a feminist because her tour is called “Mrs. Carter” and because Jay-Z quotes the infamous ‘Eat the cake Anna Mae,’ line from What’s Love Got to Do With It (hilariously misheard by one white feminist as a reference to Japanese animation) and critiqued here.
So, the fact that Beyonce makes her own money, has her own career, is married to a man who knows she can’t cook and doesn’t care, and, after releasing her father from her management team, seems to run her own career her own way, doesn’t make her a feminist? Then what IS a feminist? We’re confused.
4. Beyonce is not afraid of other fierce women. Beyonce has not one jealous bone in her enviable body because instead of placing a few hot dudes in her sexy video for “Yonce”, she hires three of the baddest Black models around – Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, and Chanel Iman, all of whom are almost a decade younger than she is – and lets them stunt. Of course, she does, too, and they even get a little frisky with B. We take our fashionista hats off to that kind of female solidarity.
5. Beyonce wins 2013. You know that joke Katt Williams tells about a Chrysler 300 looking like a Bentley until a Bentley pulls up? That’s how Miley Cyrus probably feels about now. She gyrated and twerked her way to success with “Wrecking Ball” and now she’s last month’s news. Has anyone even mentioned Miley since Beyonce dropped? Even Rihanna has wisely fallen back, conceding the year to B. Sure, a lot of people had a good 2013 – everyone in 12 Years a Slave, actor Michael B. Jordan, Oprah in The Butler, Idris Elba with a baby on the way and possible Oscar nomination, and remember, that dude Jay-Z dropped a record this year, too, straight to 1 million Samsung Galaxy phones.
But B still takes 2013 hands down. Drop a record, sell a milli, go back on tour, then jump on a private plane for a yacht vacay with the hubs. (You know it’s coming.) Spend New Year’s Eve popping Ace of Spades with the fam and celebrate the fact that you and your man sold a million albums each in the same year; a feat probably never accomplished before in world history. Queen B for the win. Yeah.
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Photo: Beyonce’s Tumblr.