Beyoncé and Jay-Z, er, “The Carters,” as they are currently branded, released their surprise debut joint album Sat. June 16, and Beyhive and Jay-Z fans alike rejoiced.
The surprise was revealed during the European leg of their “On The Run Part II” tour in London, England. “Everything is Love” was initially available on TIDAL, the music streaming service owned by The Carters and a slew of other artists. This left many fans scrambling to use fake email accounts and bug their friends to apply for a free 30-day subscription to use the service to stream the album (because the days of “Lemonade” are long gone, Beyhive.)
Fortunately, Bey and Jay were gracious enough to also release the album on Apple Music and Spotify Premium days later. (Spotify Premium is having a deal where you get three months worth of the service for $.99, offer ends June 30. Get it while it’s here!) I used the latter service to listen to the album, and I have some thoughts.
The overall theme of this album seems to be The Carters letting everyone know that all is well in their relationship, amid the recent infidelity speculation between the power couple. Before listening to the album, I figured the couple simply needed new material to perform on tour. From posts of the concert on social media, I’m assuming performing the same dance routine in front of a bunch of people who don’t know what an HBCU is might get tiring for Mrs. Knowles-Carter.
But after taking a listen, I realize the album is one of substance. Sure, it doesn’t have a strategic storyline à la “Lemonade,” but the songs do touch on subjects such as love, relationships, and their influence in the entertainment industry and today’s society. Queen Bey does provide some rather surprising vocals on standout tracks; with “APES**T” in particular, she’s actually rapping. This, I’m sure, comes as a surprise for many fans, since this is the only track on the album with a music video (at least for now). The video was shot in the Louvre museum in Paris, France, leaving many to wonder, how rich can you be to rent out one of the most prestigious art museums in the entire world for a music video?! (Apparently, you’d have to be Beyoncé and Jay-Z rich!)
The opening and closing tracks, “SUMMER” and “LOVEHAPPY,” are solid in their respective ways. While the former sets a romantic mood, The Carters go bar for bar with each other in “LOVEHAPPY,” which is really cute but also very raw and realistic. They sound like they’re having a conversation, which is important to have in any relationship in order to heal. In “SUMMER,” ‘Yoncé croons, “I wanna drown in the depth of you/When the water’s so blue,” while Hova raps, “If I can stay in her hair forever, that’d be fine by me/ I don’t have no concept of time.” Clearly, the two have had many a rendezvous on the beach!
As far as personal favorites go, “BOSS,”“FRIENDS,’” and “HEARD ABOUT US” are all just excellent. From the production in “BOSS” (I’m a sucker for good horns and looped background vocals) to the importance of friendship in “FRIENDS” and the catchiness in “HEARD ABOUT US,” the Carters really did well! The latter song grew on me a little bit, as the beat switch threw me for a loop, but it is a track that you can’t help but get stuck in your head.
“713” is a great track as well, as Beyoncé represents her hometown of Houston, Texas, (713 is the city’s main area code) while Jay-Z raps about how the love story of the Carters began (which, according to Jay, the two met in 2000 at the MTV Spring Break Festival in Cancun, Mexico, then started dating two years later).
“NICE” and “BLACK EFFECT” didn’t do anything for me. However, “NICE” is pretty experimental. The Pharrell feature is also a nice surprise. “BLACK EFFECT” seems like it belongs on Jay-Z’s previous solo project, “4:44,” but the message at the beginning is very insightful on the different kinds of love that exist, whether it’s the “love of God/ love of self/ love of a partner,” but ultimately, love is “about sensitivity/ it’s about passion.”
All in all, the power couple seems to be standing strong in the face of adversity. It’s evident that the two have grown a lot from where their mindsets were during their previous solo projects, and though their collaborative album has been long-awaited, it is far from long overdue. The Carters have banded together and proved that love really is everything, and everything is love.