Happy Bey day to all who celebrate. After a long, arduous wait for a new solo collection, on Friday, the Beyhive were treated to Act I: Renaissance, Beyoncé’s seventh studio album.
The album is a masterful blend of genres, especially heavy on dance and house. It’s not a huge surprise for those of us—like Obama—who’ve been jamming to “Break My Soul” all summer. But still, with a pretty long list of collaborators and features, the 16-song album marks a totally new era for Beyoncé. Renaissance is fun, vibrant and, occasionally, downright steamy. It’s also full of lyrical easter eggs and, of course, comes with some piping hot drama. Here are five things to know about Beyoncé’s Renaissance.
How to Listen to Renaissance
An important question! But first: Renaissance was announced as “Act I,” leaving fans to wonder how many parts were involved in this project—and the album’s liner notes confirm that at least two more chapters will follow.
As of 12 a.m. ET on July 29, Renaissance is available wherever you stream music. Unlike Beyoncé’s last solo project, Lemonade, which exclusively streamed on Tidal at the time of its release, Renaissance is loaded on Tidal, Apple Music, Spotify, and Youtube.
Renaissance Has Many Good Songs, But “Heated” Is the Best
Choosing a single standout song from a Bey album is like trying to choose your favorite child as a parent. It may be hard, but not impossible. Across the 16 songs, the 40-year-old declares this the summer of letting loose, popping champagne, and owning your confidence, all under the guidance of her carefully curated new LP.
But “Heated” reigns supreme. The song features several collaborations, including Drake, who also released a dance album this summer. (His was not as good. Sorry Drizzy.) On the club-ready track Bey sings about being untamed. “Uh, only a real man can tame me/Only the radio could play me,” she sings. Another standout from the album is “Thique,” a body-moving, synth heavy cut about “cash getting thicker”—and her even thicker assets.
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Beyoncé – HEATED (Official Lyric Video)
Is Bey Singing About The Elevator Incident Again in “Cozy”?!
Part of the fun of listening to a new album by a mega star is deciphering the lyrics and trying to understand all of the references. With Renaissance, that game is certainly afoot. If you were anywhere near the Internet in 2015, you certainly remember the infamous elevator incident where TMZ released footage of Beyoncé’s sister, Solange, launching at JAY-Z, Bey’s husband, in a heated argument. On “Cozy,” the second song on the set, Beyoncé appears to reference that incident. “Might I suggest you don’t fuck with my sis (Ooh)/’Cause she comfortable,” she sings.
But these Easter eggs aren’t just related to Beyoncé’s personal life. On “Energy” the Grammy award-winning superstar gets political. “Votin’ out 45, don’t get outta line,” she sings, referencing the removal of Donald Trump from his presidential post. On that same song, she also drags Karens. “I just entered the country with derringers/’Cause them Karens just turned into terrorists,” she sings over a pause in the song.
What Song Did Beyoncé Sample From Kelis?
Speaking of “Energy,” the song has stirred up some controversy due to its sampling of Kelis’s 1999 track “Get Along With You.” And elsewhere, Kelis’s smash hit “Milkshake” is also interpolated for the record.
On Thursday, Kelis opened up about how she found out about the sampling with the rest of the world on social media. “My mind is blown too because the level of disrespect and utter ignorance of all three parties involved is astounding,” she wrote in an Instagram comment from her cooking account @bountyandfull, “I heard about this the same way everyone else did. Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled.”
She later added that her part in the song is “not a collab, it’s theft” before going on camera to speak publically about the disrespect she felt from not only Beyoncé, but also from Pharrell and Chad Hugo of The Neptunes. “It’s called thievery because … the definition of collaboration, it means that we are working together,” she said in a video on Instagram, “There’s no working together if you are not even checking to see if everything’s cool.”
Is The Internet Freaking Out Over Renaissance? Yes, Obviously.
Given all of the excitement and drama surrounding the rollout of Renaissance, it’s no surprise that social media is flooded with reactions, memes and hot takes. Check our favorites below.
Ammal Hassan is a writer and Esquire’s Snapchat Editor. She covers all things culture with a focus on music and pop culture. She is from Nairobi, Kenya and lives in New York City.
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