Over the past two decades, Beyoncé has made her presence known in the music industry. With 26 Grammy Awards, 26 MTV Music Awards, 24 NAACP Image Awards, 31 BET Awards and 17 Soul Train Awards, she has made it a duty to adapt as the music industry evolves.
This past summer, Beyoncé released her latest album “Renaissance”. This is Beyoncé’s first self-featured album since “The Lion King: The Gift”. “Renaissance” portrayed a different side of Beyoncé that was mature and free-spirited. Some of the Beehive praised her for this change and were excited to go with her on this new journey, while others were not impressed and questioned her relevance.
Trinity Elyse is a sophomore biology and business double major from Bethesda, Maryland. She is a faithful supporter of Beyoncé, but believes this album was the singer trying to fit into an aesthetic.
“I think the album was her trying to be different, but fit in at the same time. Do not get me wrong, I absolutely love Bey, but I love her authentic self more than the new age,” she said.
Some music lovers were upset about the mainstream artist turning to house and vogue music instead of the R&B style they are used to hearing. The album consists of 16 songs that are supposed to express the freedom of individuality.
Songs like “BREAK MY SOUL”, “CUFF IT”, “CHURCH GIRL”, which was a cover by the Clark sisters and the ballroom-inspired song “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” are just a few of the songs that took the world by storm.
Obi Okeke is a public relations major and history minor from Bronx, New York and he explained how he felt that “COZY” and “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” were the best songs on the album.
“‘COZY’ is such a beautiful song that perfectly encapsulates the queer identity while uplifting all. I feel like I should mention the first two times I heard ‘ALIEN SUPERSTAR’ I cried,” Okeke said.
Many fans believe that Beyoncé was inspired by and paid homage to the ballroom scene due to features like Big Freedia, Grace Jones and Kevin Aviance. In her photo shoot for the album, she made this rumor a fact when she paid homage to Pepper LaBeija, a famous ballroom dancer. The real inspiration behind the project was her Uncle Johnny who passed away of HIV.
In Beyoncé’s 2019 GLAAD acceptance speech she said the following about Uncle Johnny.
“I want to dedicate this award to my Uncle Johnny, the most fabulous gay man I have ever known, who helped raise me and my sister,” she said. “He lived his truth and he was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting”.
On June 30th, Beyoncé posted the official album cover of “RENAISSANCE”. The album cover is Beyoncé sitting on an illuminated horse. The picture is captioned with a heartfelt message about what this project meant for her individualism during the pandemic.
“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” she wrote. “It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”
When asking Gen-Z students about Beyoncé’s relevance, multiple conversations, like colorism and how she is “overhyped,” came to the surface.
In an interview with Sirius XM, Mathew Knowles stated that colorism had much to do with his daughter’s success compared to her bandmate in Destiny’s Child, Kelly Rowland. He found that light-skinned Black women are more likely to be favored over darker-toned women.
“In the music industry, there’s still segregation. Programmers, especially at pop radio, have this imagery of what beauty looks like. … If you look back even at Whitney Houston, if you look at those photos, how they lightened her to make her look lighter-complexioned … because there’s a perception and a colorism: the lighter that you are, the smarter and more economically (advantaged)… there’s a perception all around the world about color — even with Black folks, there’s a perception.”
Eniola Borishade, a sophomore health science major from New Jersey by way of Nigeria, believes that colorism does not measure the artist’s success.
“It goes back to Destiny’s Child for real. Her skin did give her a boost in the industry because of how it was back then, but I don’t think she’s any less talented now,” Borishade said.
Even though negative rhetoric arises about the artist, loyal fans still believe that she is relevant and inspirational.
Jacob Bellvue is a sophomore TV and film major from Enola, Pennsylvania, by way of Montclair, New Jersey. He says that Beyoncé’s music inspires him.
“Beyoncé’s music inspires me daily. I see a parallel between ‘RENAISSANCE’ and her previous album, ‘The Lion King: The Gift’. The Gift was centered around self-reflection and ‘RENAISSANCE’ highlights the self-acceptance we have after doing the inner work. The song ‘BIGGER’ says ‘life is your birthright, they hid that in the fine print—take the pen and rewrite it.’ This is my mantra”, said Bellvue.
This is only the first part of the album. Beyoncé has not released a date for “RENAISSANCE Part II”, but the public is definitely excited about its release.
Copy edited by Jadyn Barnett