Pop Culture

Beyonce (the Album) Review: Why this Church Girl Loves Bey and the Book of Knowles-Carter

Did y’all catch that Grammy performance?  Dayum.  I thought she had lost it as she had be gone for a minute, but we should never count King Bey out.  Yes, I call her King Bey not, Queen Bey.  I had left the BeyHive after no real music for 2 years and hearing “Bow Down” before it’s final version “Flawless” was released.  Although, I believe wholeheartedly she added that lovely excerpt from Chimamda Ngozi Adichie to save her a**, the final production was nonetheless magnetic. Let’s just say I am nothing short of obsessed with Beyonce the album.

Mrs. Carter kept it real or as real as she can publicly be.  Not to mention, it was ABSOLUTELY fun.  Overtly sexual, somewhat vulnerable, and undeniably egoistic, Beyonce has never looked or sounded better.  I woke up that morning to download podcasts only to find that Bey had secretly dropped a visual album.  No green light in sight, no promotion, and not even a hint.  Only Bey could do that and stay at #1 for two weeks.

Now there are a couple of songs/videos, I could do without namely, “No Angel” “Haunted” and “XO” (Though, everyone seems to love it for some reason).  The best song on this production is “Rocket.”  Now, I’m a virgin, but I’m pretty sure that this song is basically an orgasm in words.  It’s a Prince and D’Angelo like groove that would send any pair of lovers off into space and pure baby making magic.  If she is that in love with her husband and her body like that, then happiness looks beautiful on her.  No matter our orientation, women are the most vulnerable in the sexual act and I think this song shows how that vulnerability is very much strength in the positive way.

“Pretty Hurts” directly calls out the abnormal obsession of beauty issue in America boldly declaring that it is “the soul that needs the surgery”.  “Drunk In love” meets us 10 years after “Crazy In Love” and shows after all these years the Carters are still VERY hot for each other and ain’t afraid to show it***. (***Disclaimer:  I had no idea one of the lyrics “Eat the cake, Anna Mae” referred to a Tina and Ike domestic violence scene in a 20 year old movie.  I’m 25 and thought “cake” meant her booty and heard “anime”, not “Anna Mae”.  That has definitely challenged me to read lyrics more often to understand what I’ve internalized.  Domestic abuse is no joke, Jay & Bey.)

“Blow” is an 80’s roller disco throwback that is exactly about what you think it is about. She boldly proclaims “It’s the sweetest in the middle” and doesn’t hold back how much she enjoys that experience from the female perspective.  The accompanying video is perfection bringing in Destiny’s Child and Solange for some roller rink smexiness.   “Partition”, along with the video, is downright dirty, but so much fun to listen to.  It reminds you of hormonal teenage love and when you can’t keep your hands off the other person.  The fact that this woman turned Monica Lewinski into a verb is reason enough to listen.  For the Francophiles, there is a French verse proclaiming the sexual freedom of women at the end.

In “Jealous”, she gets real and even states how even King Bey experiences some mortal green-eyed envy at times.  Not necessarily directed at other women, but the fact that as a woman there are things that she (thinks) can’t do, but her partner can get away with as a man.  I feel “Jealous”, beautifully ties into “Flawless”, which IMO is the female empowerment theme of 2014.  Originally “Bow Down/I Been On”, “Flawless” sees Bey reclaim her crown, silencing her peers, such as Keyshia Cole and Keri Hilson.  Adichie raises someone interesting questions, like:  “Why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same?” and “Why can’t females be sexual beings in the way that men are?” The song reaching its peak with the line, “I woke up like this”.  I don’t believe the song means we are exactly “Flawless”, but we as women are fearfully and wonderfully created to be and do amazing things.  We should wake up with that sentiment every day.

“Mine” is a smooth and simple love song that addresses the emotions of becoming a new mother and just wanting to just stop time and let the worries of the world fall away while in the arms of the person you love.  It’s beautifully complimented with Drake’s vocals and final rap verse.  “Superpower” is all about the power of love, not just romantic, but also brotherly/sisterly love.  IMO, its important to note that we as individuals are amazing, but when we have a partner, friendships or a community behind us we can together reach unbelievable heights. Not to mention Frank Ocean’s voice is absolute Heaven.  Speaking of “Heaven”, Beyonce dedicated a track to a beloved friend who passed way.   The Lord’s Prayer can be heard in Spanish at the end.

I recently stumbled upon an article “Why Church Girls Love Beyonce” and the question had been posed on Facebook, “Why do Christian Girls listen to Beyonce?”  I took a moment to reflect, why this album has been on repeat since it dropped and has had me strutting around NYC like I own the place.  What I love so much about this work is that she takes full on charge of her sexuality and the liberties she has a sexual being, even more so as a female.  The church historically has denied women that right and the “black” church has both denied and  exploited those liberties accorded to  black females.  As Christians, I feel we forget that God created sex and created it for both pleasure and reproduction.  Its where the marriage vows are sealed in the flesh and to literally become one.  From what I hear, it’s the closest two beings get to experiencing heaven.  I don’t believe that is something we should be ashamed of or take lightly.  Furthermore, its more than the actual act, it’s a way of being.

I grew up in the Baptist Church and hit puberty early and was straight up told that my body was a sin.  That girls should do all that we can “to help the young men” and keep our bodies covered so as not to inspire impure thoughts.  That the female body and its sensuality was wrong or should be restricted to the bedroom.  Did not God create the body and decided it was good? Did not He call the female body the crown of creation? IJS.  How can women live a holiness and wholeness without the knowledge of their sexuality and the magic of their sensuality?  I mean there is a whole book dedicated to it in the Bible!  Still, I hear constantly:  “Beyonce is not a Christian woman.  She can’t do that or shouldn’t do this. “ This woman dated, married, and had the baby.  Not to mention she conquered the world while doing it. She’s still King.   She took the Grammys stage unabashedly and with a vengeance showing off her curves and unapologetically wholly as a woman.  Flawless, indeed.  I know Jay had to hold back on national television, but its obvious what was going down later that evening.  Haters gon hate!

I have no regrets in purchasing this album.  The music and fun visuals are well worth the money.  I rarely give funds to the machine, but I was glad to purchase this with the current state of music as horrid as it is.  But Bey done changed the game once again and I for one am forever grateful.

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