Beyoncé – “Renaissance” review

Beyoncé is a 40 year old singer/songwriter, producer, dancer, actress, businesswoman & director from Houston, Texas who rose to fame in the late-90’s as the lead singer of Destiny’s Child. She eventually began her career as a solo artist in the summer of 2003 with the slept-on Dangerously in Love, but found both B’Day & I Am…Sasha Fierce to be average at best. 4 though was her best since her full-length debut, paving the way for a self-titled effort & Lemonade to become her most critically acclaimed bodies of work yet. But as a way to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Bey’s returning with her 7th album & the first in a new trilogy.

The opener “I’m That Girl” sets it all off talking about how no one can fuck with her over an instrumental featuring co-production from Mike Dean & S1 flipping “Still Pimpin’” by Tommy Wright III whereas “Cozy” comes through with a more housier vibe encouraging one to be comfortable with their own skin. The intergalactic aesthetics of “Alien Superstar” makes it a highlight for my personal as she talks about being too classy, but then “Cuff It” goes into disco territory confessing that she feels like fucking shit up.

Meanwhile on “Energy”, we have Beyoncé returning to house turf thanks to Skrillex getting rebellious rightfully calling out Karens turning into terrorists leading into “Break My Soul” pulling from Euro house sampling “Show Me Love” by Robin S. telling everyone that she’s unbreakable. “Church Girl” pulls from ballroom music with the help of Tricky Stewart & No I.D. with a Clark Sisters flip to further confirm that women who regularly attend church are super freaky just before “Plastic Off the Sofa” is a contemporary R&B ballad produced with Syd of course getting on the more romantic side of things.

“Virgo’s Groove” returns to a more dance-pop sound encouraging her lover to come over while “Move” pulls from hip house & afrobeats advising everyone to get the fuck out her way. “Heated” embraces afro house to talk about fanning off while “Thique” reveals itself to be another favorite of mine from Hit-Boy’s infectious production to the lyrics about body positivity & even bragging that her bread’s getting bigger.

Following that, “All Up in Your Mind” bombastically warns to be careful what you ask for because she could comply while the song “America Has a Problem” heavily samplez the Kilo Ali cut of the same name basically declaring herself to be the Tony Montana of sex appeal. The penultimate track “Pure / Honey” is a ballroom-inspired 2 parter talking about feeling her technique & getting people stuck to her love as “Summer Renaissance” finishes the album with 1-last house banger to describe a gangster growing on her.

Truth be told: I went into Renaissance expecting it to be average at best considering my initial reaction to “Break My Soul” when it came out last month was moderate & I have to inevitably mention the new Drake album Honestly, Nevermind being a decent homage to the late Virgil Abloh. Since it’s finally here however & I got to marinate with it for a while, I definitely enjoyed it more than I thought & find it to be as great as IDK’s latest EP Simple. that just came out a couple months ago. The dance-tinged production is a sweet homage to her late uncle Johnny & her performances are incredibly empowering.

Score: 4/5