Beyoncé’s highly anticipated seventh studio album, Renaissance, was finally released on Friday. The 16-song LP is the pop icon’s first solo album in six years, following her visual album Lemonade.
Renaissance features guest appearances from Grace Jones, Tems, Big Freedia, BEAM, as well as Drake and Raphael Saadiq. “We recorded this three-act project over three years during the pandemic. It was a period where I had to be quiet, but I also found myself at my most creative,” said Beyoncé, referring to the fact that the new release is the first chapter of a trilogy. “It was my intention to create a safe space where there was no judgement,” reads her further statement. “A place where we can free ourselves from perfectionism and overthinking. A place where we are free to scream, to let go, to feel freedom.”
The message has always been important to the singer. “We’re smart enough to make those millions / We’re strong enough to carry the kids / To then get back to business…” sings Beyoncé in “Run the World,” her fourth studio album. In another song on the album, “Flawless”, she quotes writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie from her performance of “We Should All Be Feminists”. “Everything she says is exactly how I feel,” she said. Beyoncé is an outspoken feminist, and she reinforces these messages in her music. In an opinion piece for The Shriver Report, Beyoncé wrote about gender equality, patriarchy and the need for equal pay. “Why are we seen as less equal? These old attitudes have been drilled into us from the beginning. We must teach our daughters that they can rise as high as they can.”
Family and audience are also a priority in the singer’s life. “I’ve got a lot of awards and a lot of things that are amazing and I’ve worked my guts out. I’ve worked harder than probably anyone I know to get these things. But nothing feels like when my child says, “Mommy!” Nothing feels like looking into my husband’s eyes,” she said. “Nothing feels like being respected when I stand on stage and see that I’m making a difference in people’s lives. Those are the things that matter, and at this point in my life, that’s what I strive for. Growth. Love. Happiness. Fun. Enjoy your life because it’s short. That’s the message.”
The message of the Lemonade album is also robust and clear. It’s a story of pain, rebirth and forgiveness. It is the spiritual journey of a woman trying to find strength in heartache. The lyrics range from poetry to the Bible, and although she has made a strong album and many of us can find personal relevance in it, it seems quite clear that it is addressed to just one person, this time her husband.
When Beyoncé has a message to share, she doesn’t post it on Twitter or issue a press statement, but instead shocks the world with an album; or say, the biggest sporting event on TV, or even a full-on movie experience. In his case, don’t expect the ordinary, expect the extraordinary!