“Everything Is Love” by The Carters: A Review
As many of you already know, I am a self-proclaimed, card-carrying, lifetime member of the Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter Fan Coalition and BeyHive. I have been rocking with sis since she had plastic weave and Destiny’s Child was a quartet. I’ve seen it all: from the Writings on the Wall, to her falling Dangerously in Love with one of rap’s baddest boys, and sipping the Lemonade of life after he did her wrong. I’ve been blessed to see her in concert twice, and am one of the few thousand people who can say I saw her on stage moments before she broke the internet with the release of her ground-breaking self-titled visual album, Beyoncé (2013). I don’t say any of this to brag; but y’all get the point. I am a proud Beyoncé stan and, like many of us, I don’t miss any of the latest news when it comes to the Queen. Sister/Cousin/Auntie Bey blesses my soul in all of her hard-working, powerful, unapologetic, Black Girl Magic, and immensely talented glory.
Disclaimer: I’m not signing up for any Beyoncé vigils, masses, or Beyble studies, though. That’s entirely too much; I luh God. *Erica Campbell voice*
Given our longstanding history of Beyoncé fandom, I and many others have been patiently waiting for her newest project to be released since she appeared in braids with her laptop in hand last summer. After the revelation of her husband’s infidelity, his confirming apology in 4:44, and open discussions of coming out on the other side, we all knew that something serious was coming our way. Cue the On the Run II Tour. Since the tour’s kickoff in the Europe a few weeks ago, we have all been anxiously anticipating some sort of coinciding album release. Last Saturday, June 16, 2018, our expectations came to fruition with the exclusive release of The Carters’ collaborative studio album, Everything is Love, on their content streaming platform, Tidal (now available everywhere).
While I am a dedicated BeyHive member, I had not previously signed up for Tidal so I got this good six-month free trial (#FiscalResponsibility2018) in order to listen to it, rather than waiting for the Carters to release it on Apple Music. I dedicated my downtime Monday morning to my first listen all the way through, and the following is a culmination of my initial thoughts. Enjoy.
While the nine-track project is enjoyable, aesthetically pleasing (so far), and mostly bops from beginning to end, I won’t go as far as to say that it is my favorite thing Beyoncé and Jay-Z have released thus far. I like the album collectively and it definitely furnishes a few bangers, but what I admire most about it is all the underlying elements that bring it all together.
Major kudos are in order for several aspects of the finished product, namely the production, lyrical content, the transparency of both artists, the awesome features (including The Migos, Pharrell, Ty Dolla $ign, and Blue Ivy, among others), and the consistent presence of Trapyoncé. As Beyoncé has evolved in her artistry, we have grown more accustomed to and appreciative of her treating us to small doses of her laid back, turn-up-ready side. This album does not disappoint at all in that respect. She is serving huge, but perfectly balanced, portions of class and sophistiratchetness, and I am absolutely here for all of it. Her increased use of explicit lyrics allows her to continue separating herself from the good-girl image she had in her early career, while the progression of grown woman realness that we’ve observed in each of her latest albums makes her feel even more relatable than ever before. Beyoncé continues to exude the powerful ferocity that lies within every woman who has risen above adversity, but reminds us that she still knows how to have a good time, and it’s impossible not to turn up right there with her. APESHIT and NICE had me like, “Chile, where is the NDA?! I’ll sign it right now if it just means getting to turn up in the same building as the queen. Got a pen?” *Yoncé bounce*
I would also be remiss if I failed to shout out the Carters for consciously placing Black bodies in the Louvre, among famous art works with depictions and creators that have historically perpetuated the infatuation with Eurocentric beauty standards, thus influencing global white supremacy. Creating images with beautifully melanated Black and brown people in this space is an important act of defiance against those problematic standards, a step in dismantling them, and a reminder that WE are the standard from which all life derives. And I’m pretty sure Beyonce used Nubian Skin lingerie on her models again. Yes for supporting Black business.
I don’t dislike the album at all, but I will admit that it is not something I was instantly slain by; instead this one is something that is continuing to grow on me with every play. I say this only because it was somewhat different from my expectations; it’s a new sound from Beyoncé specifically, but I wouldn’t say it’s a negative thing. While most of us already knew she had bars, she has still always predominately been a singer. She’s played around with rapping more and more in past years (mostly in album and concert interludes), but most of her work still showcases her vocals. However, she steps outside of the norm on Everything is Love and gives us more rhymes than riffs. She still gives us a nice dose of her vocal ability, of course, but her flows are understandably more pronounced on this one and it’s a perfect match to Jay-Z’s verses.
Even though I’ve only listened to the album all the way through one time, it’s easy to narrow down my favorite tracks:
APESHIT, BOSS, and NICE have had everyone talking because, quite simply, they’re lit. The hard beats and smooth verses easily qualify these as songs of the summer, and are guaranteed to spark a turn up at any given moment. With APESHIT, the images of Black beauty and excellence against the backdrop of the Louvre in Paris, added to the ad-libs provided by The Migos, is nothing but a recipe for hype. The only things missing with this song are a pool and a fresh cup of D’USSÉ. BOSS is just a perfect song to turn up to when you’re feeling pride in yourself, your accomplishments, and relishing in the fruits of your labor. And NICE is the perfect song to follow that confidence boost, reminding your haters that you are lit with or without their approval.
LOVEHAPPY and FRIENDS hold the top spots for me simply because I love the messages in both. Although it is one of the slower tracks, FRIENDS is meaningful to me because it speaks to the importance of men and women keeping their core circle of trusted, lifelong, and loyal friends, even when in a relationship. Both Beyoncé and Jay-Z discuss the importance of being surrounded by an unshakeable support system that holds everyone involved up through thick and thin. Jay even expands on this; after professing his appreciation for the memories and close ties with his friends, he reminds us that he is down for his wife above all else, through hell or high water, even if it leads to his own demise. This is a beautiful revelation of growth from a man who was once unfaithful, but has now recommitted himself to never making the mistake of hurting the one he loves, again.
In LOVEHAPPY, the last song on the album, we hear a very conversational exchange between The Carters as they discuss everything from writing their will, setting their future descendants up for generational success and wealth, looking forward to their children growing up, and even a playfully shady, but serious moment between the couple in which Beyoncé reminds Jay that his past actions almost cost them their happily ever after.
Beyoncé: “Yeah, you f****d up the first stone (Yo, chill)/So we had to get remarried./We keepin’ it real with these people, right?/You lucky I ain’t kill you when I met that b—”
Jay-Z: Aight, aight.
Even though she shades him briefly, Bey clearly professes her love of her husband—past his flaws and mistakes—and the album ends on a blissful note, publicly solidifying their recommitment to one another and the strong foundation of love on which we’ve always known their marriage to be built.
All in all, listen to this album and you won’t be disappointed. It’s different in a good way, and serves as another win in the Carter Legacy.