Debuting at No 1 this past weekend (Aug. 8) — selling 332,000 first-week units — the “BREAK MY SOUL” songstress is now the first female artist to earn a No. 1 record in 2022. This is Bey’s seventh consecutive album to debut atop the Billboard 200 and is the first female emcee in Billboard history to achieve this feat.
Billed as “Act I” of a forthcoming three-part project, Bey discussed the creation of Renaissance in a statement on her website, wholeheartedly thanking her fans amid divulging the underlying themes of the record. “Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find an escape during a scary time for the world,” she penned, alluding to the album’s three-year process during the COVID-19 pandemic. “My intention was to create a safe space… a place to scream, release and feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”
The project’s rollout and release reminded fans that the pop icon is still one of the only artists who can grab listeners’ attentions — and the industry — in the blink of an eye. After the album leaked two days prior, her loyal fanbase, famously dubbed the Beyhive, came together in effort to stop the album from spreading — waiting to listen to the project until it was officially released as an act of solidarity with their Queen. “I love you deep,” Beyoncé responded in another message.
Renaissance’s songwriting credits are packed with numerous icons such as Jay Z, Drake, The-Dream and Syd Bennett of The Internet. The same goes for the list of producers involved in the project, as esteemed names like Mike Dean, No I.D. and The Neptunes all contributed to the album’s sonics.
References of various music genres such as house, ballroom, disco, funk, hip-hop, Afro and more make up the back bone of this project as Beyoncé pays homage to the roots of Black music. In terms of hip-hop representation, tracks such as “CHURCH GIRL,” “THIQUE” and “AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM” have Bey showing off her rap skills with a playful cadence delivering fitting hot girl summer anthems.
Additionally, she also shows her support for queer culture throughout the project, pulling from language and sounds used in ballroom music. This particular genre was curated and perfected by African American LQBTQA+ communities in New York beginning in the late 20th century, so it is truly special that its influence can be found on one of the biggest mainstream records of the year.
Queen B steps out with utter confidence on the intro “I’M THAT GIRL,” flexing her money, fame and status over exotic riddims and heavy percussion. Soon after, songs like “ALIEN SUPERSTAR” and “CUFF IT,” placed third and fourth on the track list, are filled with lusty references and seductiveness as the pop star owns her sexual desires.
On the back half of the album, songs like “HEATED” see Bey keep up the same energy and attitude she opened the tape with, as she symbolically waves her Chanel apparel in the listener’s face.
Got a lot of bands, got a lot of Ivy on me
I gotta fan myself off (Fan me off)
I gotta fan myself off (Fan me off)
I gotta cool down, heated (Fan me off like hot, hot, hot)
(Like Coco Chanel, put me up in jail)
I gotta cool it down, heated (Cool it down, hot, hot, hot)
Yeah, yeah (Like stolen Chanel, put me up in jail)
(Tip, tip, tip)“HEATED” – Beyoncé
Overall, this album is filled with intoxicating, rhythmic bangers that can turn any setting into a dance floor. With a barrage of timeless, mesmerizing vocals, a variety of samples and eclectic production, Renaissance is surely already a strong contender for album of the year.
Listen to Beyoncé’s stunning new album below!