It was a cold, December night when Beyoncé changed digital music forever on Friday the 13th in 2013. Sure the surprise, self-titled album shook the industry the day it dropped, but there’s something that’s even more shocking about it…
It took me a while to realize it, until suddenly, it crept up on me like a thief in the night and snatched my soul (as well as my edges.)
On the surface, the album appeared soft and sweet to 21 year old me, aloof and unaware of the actualities I would soon face in adult life. But, there was a mystery hidden that didn’t unearth until I became much more mature. What lied underneath was a Bey that was bone-chilling, backed by elements that were so frightening and somehow, still fierce. An album so good, it’s scary.
What’s in that self-titled album you might ask yourself? Hear my warning: there’s no parental advisory label that can prepare you for such peril. The contents aren’t for the faint of heart or the fair-weather fan. There are people who walk this Earth without even uttering the word. What is it?Something so beautiful, dark, and twisted, but it’s no fantasy… it’s FEMINISM.
Beyonce’s eponymous album emphasizes every aspect of womanhood; the good, the bad and the ugly. Throughout the 14 track project, she touched topics in ways that were so honest, it’s horrifying.
“If there’s candles near your bed, no need for a spell..”
Beyoncé’s mesmerizing melodies and hypnotizing hooks leave listeners in a trance track after track through the album, but the most spellbinding moments are when she’s sultry and sensual. Bey aligns the supernatural abilities of a woman with sexuality on several songs, including “Blow,” “Drunk In Love,” and “Rocket.” She works her magic to describe the mythical, moving forces in making love leading with sexy similes and metaphors in her lyrics. Exuding extreme sexual energy, she explicitly explains all the wonders in womanly walls.
Stop acting so scared, just do what I tell“No Angel” -Beyonce
First, both of my legs go back on your head
And whatever you want
Yeah, baby, I’ll bet it comes true
Deep in us is a powerful, potent potion. Something mere mortals (*cough* MEN.) are no match for. We create pleasure and carry life with our wombs and in these waters, but it’s not witchcraft. It’s womanhood.
“Don’t go ghost on me, I’ma go Thiller on you..”
While exploring a side of femininity that’s fun and sex-filled, Beyoncé also shows the parts that are often dark and troubling. All through her career, she’s made songs that deal with imperfections, infidelity, and everything inbetween. But on Beyoncé she’s open and vulnerable like never before. She deals with topics that are often difficult to discuss on the album, including postpartum depression, loss, and abandonment.
With an ever so delicate delivery, she briefly describes difficulties she faced in new motherhood on her duet with Drake, “Mine.”
“I’ve been watching for the signs
Took a trip to clear my mind, oh
Now I’m even more lost
And you’re still so fine, oh my, oh my
Been having conversations about breakups and separations
I’m not feeling like myself since the baby
Are we gonna even make it? Oh
‘Cause if we are, we’re taking this a little too far”
Beyoncé’s harmonious balance of beauty and bleak doesn’t stop within her words, however. The echoing vocals give off a phantom-like presence as they weave in and out in the background, produced by OVO’s own “40” and friends.
We’re also visited by ghosts of women’s past in “Jealous” as the haunting yips help throughout the Detail produced track. Jealous is a song that’s disturbingly real as Beyoncé sets the scene for a situation that feels all too familiar, the emotional stages of being taken for granted by the one you love. The occurrence is almost ominous, because you have a sixth sense for when something’s just not right with you and yours.
In addition, Bey gets dangerously dark as she brings suffering from a miscarriage out from the shadows in the song, “Heaven.” Simple piano chords open the ballad in a way thats so spine-tingling, it strikes your soul too. Miscarrying is often a private pain many women choose to suffer through in silence out of embarrassment. Because women are built to bear life, often times we feel we are inadequate when facing family planning failures. She pens:
“I fought for you
The hardest, it made me the strongest
So tell me your secrets
I just can’t stand to see you leaving
But heaven couldn’t wait for you”
“Your love is bright as ever, even in the shadows…”
And still we rise. Women are often equipped with an innate ability to still find love and light no matter how dim things can get. We’re encapsulated by our enchantress Queen Bey as she shows how the power of love can lead the way in “Superpower” and “XO.”
“Pageant the pain away”
After all of the horrendous highs and lows and great fear and fulfillment of womanhood, can you imagine anything scarier? I can. A woman that is happy, confident, and equally dominant in all aspects as her male counterparts! 😱
Instead of bowing down to the opposite sex, she boasts about her strength and resilience in an anthem for boss ass babes everywhere, “***Flawless.” Beyoncé includes an excerpt from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in it as she unequivocally narrates the true nature in feminism and challenges social norms.
“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smallerSpoken by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
We say to girls: ‘You can have ambition, but not too much
You should aim to be successful, but not too successful
Otherwise, you will threaten the man’
Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage
I am expected to make my life choices
Always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important
Now, marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support
But why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage
And we don’t teach boys the same?
We raise girls to see each other as competitors
Not for jobs or for accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing
But for the attention of men
We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are
Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political
And economic equality of the sexes”
In addition to combating passe behaviors that put women down, she shows how inner-beauty and a strong self-esteem can be the biggest defender against a world that hate women. Beyoncé focuses on the world’s obscure views of women on “Pretty Hurts.” Queen Bey points out how often women are ostracized and criticized for not succumbing to society’s beauty standards. She makes statements such as, “perfection is a disease of a nation” in the chorus and how others “shine light on whatever’s worse.” Despite other’s projections on what’s perfect, she carries a confident smile her to help her “pageant the pain away.”
Beyoncé is not only a woman who makes her confidence heard, but felt. In the eery “Haunted,” she expands on how her presence everlasting. The thrilling-themed track is laced by various distorted sounds to create an alluding appeal. In it, she describes how she wants to do away with her past perceptions and embrace a new side to her that leaves behind a legacy, starting with her self-titled album. Her producer, BOOTS, says the song was made to be as “something on your mind, a feeling you can’t shake or an artist like Beyoncé.” He also states, “the song was originally titled ‘Ghost Around,’ a term I made up for something always being there, always being around and nobody knows it.”
Indeed, she is always there, as the legacy of Beyonce, and the self titled album live on still and will continue for years to come. As a true testament to women everywhere and the woman that she is, she makes statements for those too shy to say or those unwilling to hear.
With all of that said of the spook and suspense in self-titled, there’s only one question that remains. Are you afraid?