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Review: Act ii Cowboy Carter

Happy Release Day, y'all! Beyonce's latest album, Act ii. Cowboy Carter, is officially out and the BeyHive could not be more excited. From surprise Super Bowl single drops, to graphics that made us gag and teasers galore, WE MADE IT! And now that I've had my ceremonial first listen, here is my review.

I love this album as a body of work for its significance alone, but also for its concept. Chitlin' Circuit posters?! "KNTRY RADIO?!" And then it flows like a real radio block? We throw around the word “genius” too causally for my taste on most days, but these particular choices were just that. The cohesive end of the album, connecting us back to the beginning, was like the triumph of tying the perfect bow atop an intricately wrapped gift. 

Listening to this album feels like listening to old radio shows with your grandparents, great aunties, and uncles in the parlor; being seen and not heard while pretending not to understand the tea-soaked whispers of grown folks’ business. It gives flashing glimpses of sliding out back with your cousins, cussin’ out of earshot and sharing sips of something bitter swiped from the grown folks’ table; and then, there are those calm, cool, and sultry night rides with your love, sprinkled in between. It’s 79 minutes of notes, nostalgia, and new takes on a genre that tried to shut Beyonce out, but that she reclaims for the culture, beautifully.

The scratching sound of vinyl feels comforting to my soul and I can almost smell the cigarette smoke in the air as country legends introduce the album's key tracks. I see Willie Nelson with his boot-clad feet crossed on the desk, drink on the table, hat low as he speaks into the vintage microphone at a small radio station in Texas. I see "Dolly P," smiling as she announces "Miss Honey Bee." I see performers taking hoe baths outside juke joints. I smell fish dinners and dark liquor in the heat of summer nights; the sweat of singing and dancing in small spaces, carefully cultivated just for us, when we couldn’t do it anywhere else. Creating vivid imagery from a purely sonic experience is no easy feat, but as always, Queen Bey does so masterfully. 

The samples, homage to legends, reminders of the foundational Black presence in country music and the country that birthed it; the blend and blur of genres; the harmonic highs and melodic lows; the collaborations…they’re everything. I’m pleasantly surprised by the duet with Miley Cyrus. I LOVE the bridge that has been built between past, present, and future greats in country music. I’m equally proud of the representation of shades, ages, abilities, and the unveiled lessons of erased history that flow throughout this 27-track ode to Beyonce's roots. In short, I loved it all. 

And THE WRITING? I am so grateful to have grown up in a time of quality lyricism to appreciate good songwriting. The lyrics throughout Cowboy Carter touched me on a personal level. As a woman teetering on 30, and fully immersed in healing her past selves to create the woman that I am meant to be, I believe that this album captures themes that appeal to every stage of southern womanhood, in all of its complicated, spellbinding, sexy, and heart-wrenching beauty laced with an edge of whiskey-drinking caution…"I hate to have to act a fool; Your peace depends on how you move."

C'est magnifiique (yep, spelled just like that).

Am I instantly obsessed with every track like I was with Lemonade and Renaissance? Not necessarily…But did I still enjoy Act ii. Cowboy Carter in its own right? Absolutely. It stands out from its predecessors in obvious ways, but its snapshots of nostalgia, personal convictions, and country life resonate with the listener who relates in any way to Beyoncé’s southern roots. I have no doubt that my bond with Cowboy Carter will continue to strengthen with time. 

Most days, I’m in the mood to be rocked by R&B, talk my s*** with the baddest ladies in hip-hop, squall with the choir, or throw a** like I’m in the club. But on those days when I’m in the mood to be a girl from Kentucky, and not just one Louisville, babyyy…this’ll do just fine. 

I tip my hat to you, Queen B. You've out done yourself, yet again. ❤️🐝



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