I Don’t Think You’re Ready For This…
Happy Monday! My first #ConsumeColor posts will be forthcoming in the next few days, and I’m super excited to share them with you. But in the meantime, let’s talk about Beyoncé. On the heels of her showstopping Superbowl 50 Halftime performance (with direct homages to the Black Panthers and Michael Jackson), and the release of her “Formation” music video (embedded below for your viewing pleasure) there’s much to discuss. While this isn’t a music blog, in the last few years Beyoncé has been executing some fascinating visual concepts and aesthetics in her videos, as well as addressing Black and feminist issues more boldly in her lyrics and performances, thus has earning herself a post on #ConsumeColor.
I don’t know terribly much about music apart from La Reina Shakira, but lucky for you guys, my friend Travis Jones over at Hey POPCRAZE knows pretty much everything else. Here’s an excerpt of an awesome piece he wrote about Beyoncé. I know you guys will love it as much as I did. Take it away, Travis!
I’m typing this only hours after watching Beyoncé share the stage with Coldplay and Bruno Mars at Super Bowl 50. The video for the first single, “Formation”, from her upcoming album, was released on Saturday, February 6 (a day after my birthday, no less) and has received immense positive responses from the Internet. “Formation” goes even further than her work on her self-titled album. She’s still swearing, she’s still influenced by hip hop, and (it seems like) she’s still not trying to make a place at pop radio. Only this time, she’s doing all those things while directly celebrating her Blackness and directly addressing issues of the Black community. This is a big deal. Even though her self-titled album introduced less “family-friendly” Beyoncé music than ever before, she still remains one the most famous, marketable, and powerful celebrities in the world. A recent study listed Beyoncé as the 5th most marketable musician globally. This is the same woman that signed a $50 million endorsement deal with Pepsi and has been a representative of cosmetic brand L’Oréal for years, now exclaiming in Formation: “I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.” She sang that line at the Super Bowl, and I felt more empowered than I knew I would. At one time, things that were associated with Negroes were ugly, poor, and undesirable. But now, the most ferocious woman and electrifying performer my generation has seen is calling out her Blackness and mine and is saying that it’s beautiful, never mind what hundreds of years of history has tried to reinforce upon us. Big businesses ride on her image and fame, and she is unabashedly performing a song that distinctly shines light on Black people and Black beauty. The video is even more jaw dropping: natural Black hair in copious amounts; the “stop shooting us” graffiti; the references to Hurricane Katrina; the young Black boy dancing in front of cops; prompting them to them raising their arms; Beyoncé sinking with the police car underwater. It feels like she’s not afraid to lose her white/conservative fan base, those who are still longing for the I Am…Sasha Fierce Beyoncé. She’s not afraid to publish content that some would deem offensive or controversial. She’s not interested in making easy hits or following chart trends. Even as the 5th most marketable musician in the world, as the most nominated woman in Grammy history and winner of 20 trophies, as the voice behind the millennium’s most celebrated popular hits such as “Crazy In Love”, and “Halo”, and “Independent Women Pt. 1”, and “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)”, Beyoncé is stating that police brutality is very real and very wrong. That Hurricane Katrina was an American tragedy that race played a major role in. That Black people are stunning. That her daughter has marvelous hair. That she’s had to work for what she’s earned, but she’s still a Black woman, she’s still a Southern woman, and she still likes to keep a bottle of hot sauce nearby. What other artist at Beyoncé’s caliber of fame and success has continued to push themselves to new levels of artistic excellence, and now, honest social commentary? I’ll wait.
I’m so excited to see where Beyoncé will go with this new album. We don’t know much about what’s in store, but we do know that she is now making her audience see her the way she wants to be seen. We know that Beyoncé is not satisfied with simply selling records. We know that her legacy will encompass so much more than the choreography from “Single Ladies.” I don’t know what this era of her career will look like, but I learned before not to count her out. Happy Black History Month.
Want to read more about Queen Bey’s artistic evolution? Click here to read Travis’s full article on his blog Hey POPCRAZE. Travis is a 24-year-old pop music blogger with a special thing for Bey. Also, he loves being Black and thinks if you’re not a feminist, you’re doing it wrong.