Beyonce’s newest album descended upon us like a thief in the night and had Stans around the world inquiring on the whereabouts of their edges. By now you guys should know the story: no promotion, no singles, no leaks and the number 1 and 2 spots on iTunes, 80,000 sales in 3 hours, over 400,000 sales in 1 day. It’s sick and likely no other artist could replicate results half as impressive of these. I have nothing but respect for Beyonce’s finesse.
I think we are just getting a little out of hand with this Beysus worship, my friends. This isn’t an album review but just real quick, Beyonce is an expertly produced album and the beats are contagious as eff. The second half of “Flawless” is probably gonna be my theme song for
the next year and beyond a little bit, why lie. And “Jealous” vividly takes me back, way back, to a point in my life where a romantic relationship turned me vindictive and indifferent but no less in love. Conceptually, Beyonce is an unbelievable album. The sexually explicit lyrical execution, however, falls just short of desperate in a lot of instances.
So this coupled with the tendency for the masses to fall into the hypnotizing Beyonce Effect, has inevitably led to my bewilderment with journalists and bloggers alike calling Beyonce the feminist album of the year, proclaiming Bey’s obvious declaration of feminism, idolizing the R&B diva as THEE feminist icon, etc.
I tried, tried, to find a counter opinion to these assertions and just could not. So here’s my list of why Beyonce is NOT the Feminist Album of the year.
1. Bow Down B*tches
Shout outs to her for opening a lot of eyes to a great author but I don’t care how many feminist quotes from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Beyonce juxtaposed onto the beginning of this song, belittling other women to the point of forced, oppressive, subservient praise is not a feminist concept. Ever. It’s crazy to me because Christina Coleman over at Global Grind really wrote that Beyonce’s use of this quote on top of a song that could be criticized for its lyrical content completely invalidates any criticism. “Is Beyonce not invalidating every single inequality in this speech….” Um, Beyonce didn’t compose this speech. She sampled it. Like, get real. Really? So could I make a song blatantly bashing the Nation of Islam and throw a powerful quote from Prophet Elijah Muhammad at the beginning and magically become the poster child for black Muslims everywhere? I don’t think so.
2. Beyonce’s sexuality is nothing new
I read many-a-piece raving about Beyonce and it’s intrinsic feminist values, but none baffled me quite so much as Coleman’s Global Grind post, so I’m gonna reference it again. In the piece, she says that Beyonce breaks the mold keeping black women in a be-modest-or-be-hypersexualized state that has resulted in the idea that black feminists can’t be sexy. I’m sorry, *looks around.* Is there anyone in the room who has ever thought for one second throughout Beyonce’s career that she was not sexy? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Based on her scantily clad appearance, this album is nothing new for Mrs. Carter. See Exhibit A, Exhibit B and Exhibit C. If there was a point in Bey’s career at which she was not sexy, please direct me to that point. Does being black and sexy or openly sexual make you a feminist? Because if so, I know a lot of black feminists who probably don’t know they’re feminists.
Beyonce’s lyrical content was more sexually explicit than it has been in the past, but do I think that’s because she was trying to portray some sexually empowered feminist ideal? No. I think it’s a conglomeration of reasons surrounding the climate of today’s culture, Beyonce and Jay’s still young but more mature marriage, the birth of Blue and Bey wanting to show that she’s “still got it” as she readily points out in “Jealous,” and a desire to keep up with, nay, surpass her competitors (no doubt she was OD successful…like, does Bey even have competitors?). Regarding the first and last point, music and society is taking a progressive turn in many arenas including sexuality. This is just the right time for Beyonce to do something like this. Before overt sexuality becomes a casual part of conversation but after numerous outlets have developed around the idea of the liberated woman. Rihanna has been doing it for a minute now. Miley Cyrus is harnessing her inner Madonna (because what she’s doing is nothing new) and even Katy Perry is hoping on this wave (or should I say surf board ;-)) with her new album and songs like Dark Horse featuring Juicy J. All’s I’m saying is, Beyonce is hanging of the cliff of what’s comfortable for society in a daring way, yes, but a cliff can’t exist unless a part of the mountain is already missing or broken.
3. Why aren’t Nicki Minaj, Trina and Lil’ Kim lauded as feminists?
Because these women have been freely expressing their sexuality, sexual dominance and willing sexual subservience for years. But yet when they do it, they’re attacked by the masses and all these empowered feminists are silent to defend and praise them.
That’s all I’m gonna say about this situation. If you want to hear a definitively feminist album, not one that people are loosely applying broad concepts to in an attempt to validate it, listen to Janelle Monae’s Electric Lady or MIA’s Matangi, both released this year.
photo credit: http://www.thisisrnb.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Beyonce-Album-New-2.png