Beyoncé Has the Last Word on ‘Everything Is Love’

Beyoncé Has the Last Word on ‘Everything Is Love’

Her newest project may be a joint collaboration with husband Jay-Z, but she takes the lead and reigns supreme.



Her newest project may be a joint collaboration with husband Jay-Z, but she takes the lead and reigns supreme.

Text: Jake Viswanath

Beyoncé and Jay-Z open On the Run II, their second joint tour, by descending down their towering band structure, flanked by giant video screens on both sides, in an elevator. After a saga that began with the infamous elevator fight (featuring special guest Solange), peaked with the release of Bey’s masterful guide in dealing with infidelity, Lemonade, and followed up by Jay’s confessional response 4:44, that visual alone seemed to be the perfect conclusion—a strong display of unity on the vehicle that began this long road. Apparently, they thought a little more needed to be said.

Last night, right after their second show at London Stadium, Beyoncé announced her and her husband’s first-ever joint album by giving the audience a special first look at the visual for single “APESHIT!” and sending out a simple message: ALBUM OUT NOW. Speculation about a joint album from music’s powerhouse couple has been swirling for years, and as Jay-Z confirmed in a New York Times interview last year, it wasn’t without merit. The OTR II announcement only amped up fervor, but fans seemingly gave up on the idea when the tour began on June 6 without any new lyrics to learn before the show (a moment of silence for people who attended a show prior to album release).

At its core, Everything Is Love is a succinct and confident ending to the story presented across their last respective solo efforts, wrapping it up across a lean, nine-track set of extravagant hip-hop, funk, jazz, and psychedelic stylings. If you were expecting emotional back-and-forths, illuminating confessions, and the final public resolution, you won’t find that here. Rather brilliantly, they examine the significance of their union and proudly bring forward their opulence and position in the public sphere. What’s most important on this record isn’t necessarily themselves: it’s the world around them.

Critics, politics, Spotify—nothing is safe on this record. But rather than deliver overtly scathing disses, Bey and Jay deliver their feedback with a fierce sense of class and, understandably, an abundance of self-assurance (they’re Beyoncé and Jay-Z). “NICE” underlines this point the most, taking down nay-sayers while reminding the world that they’re damn nice. “My success can’t be quantified / If I gave two fucks about streaming numbers, would’ve put 'Lemonade' up on Spotify / Fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you, I’m out,” Bey spits, answering one burning question in one swipe while also incorporating a Half Baked reference, also used by fellow queen Britney. How efficient. “HEARD ABOUT US” is a somewhat moot point—damn everyone has heard about them—but it remains a standout for its mesmerizing synths and hazy piano, making it Bey and Jay’s most pop offering in years.

The one-two punch of “APESHIT” and “BOSS” are the most in-your-face presentations of bravado, pride, and intolerance for injustice found on the record. On “BOSS”, Bey and Jay address the economic and societal disadvantages that black and brown people face on a daily basis, while brilliantly flaunting their wealth and asserting their great impact on the world as African-Americans. “My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That's a lot of brown chil’ren on your Forbes list,” she proudly boasts, making racists all over shake in their cowboy boots. “APESHIT” is fully realized with its brilliant video filmed at The Lourve in Paris, which juxtaposes historic high art with African-American bodies and wealth. It’s a brilliant commentary on the space that black people must carve out for themselves in public areas, and the credit that they often don’t receive for creating the art and inspiring the culture that society as a whole takes part in.

That said, the bookends on the record focus squarely on themselves. “SUMMER” is a lush opener all about living your best life in the summertime (a spiritual sequel to Bey’s 2003 cult classic “Summertime,” perhaps?), while closer “LOVEHAPPY” delivers the truths and triumphant resolution we were all yearning for. The ups and downs are worth it / Long way to go but we’re working / We’re flawed but we’re still perfect for each other,” Beyoncé admits on the upbeat confessional. “Sometimes I thought we’d never see the light / We went through hell with heaven on our side / This beach ain’t always been no paradise.” Really, there’s no other words needed.

Considering what they’ve been through together, it’s rather fitting that Beyoncé takes the lead on this record, effectively making Jay a featured artist on most songs. And that authority is exactly what’s needed for their message to land correctly. At her behest, the couple untangles myths surrounding them and put out their truth in a way that we can easily accept. It makes us ask questions, not about their life, but the perceptions surrounding it: are they really as private as they’re reported to be?

That is why Everything Is Love is such a satisfying listen. Is it as exciting or revelatory as Lemonade or even her self-titled record? Really, no. This album may not go down in history books like those two. But it’s absolutely essential for us to move on, and more importantly, for them to keep going. Consider it the final phase of Lemonade: celebration.

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