In the wake of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s widely public marital issues, an excellent collaborative record comes alongside their revitalisation, Digital Editor Jonny Isaacs argues
Just as everyone was getting a bit down about leaving the utopia that is university life and settling down to the stresses and strains of family, a divine gift was bestowed upon us. In an unexpected move that we should probably be expecting by now, WE HAVE NEW BEYONCÉ MUSIC! And Jay-Z too. Seriously though, Everything Is Love is everything I need right now. I have so many takeaways from this album that I do not know where to start.
From a narrative point of view, it is definitely the third act in the Lemonade–4:44 saga, wrapping up the tale of betrayal and remorse with forgiveness and categorical unity. As well as this, I think it may also serve as a beginning to the next phase of the Knowles-Carter story. Interestingly, the artist listed on Tidal (the music streaming site co-owned by the couple) for this album is ‘The Carters’, rather than Beyoncé and Jay-Z or vice versa (seriously, who isn’t putting Bey first?). Whilst narratively, musically, and thematically Everything is Love fits seamlessly into a chronological listening of her discography, there’s something distinctly different about this newest instalment. With only this album to go off of, it might be jumping the gun to say that ‘The Carters’ are a different artist than just a combination of the two; I, for one, hear more of a difference between 2010’s Beyoncé and the Carters, than I do between Destiny’s Child and 2000’s Beyoncé.
A complete credit to the Carters’ storytelling instincts is their self-awareness, the self-confidence-bordering-on-arrogance that we associate with music’s power couple notwithstanding. They know what we think of them, and they don’t shy away from it. A line on ‘Salud’, the single only available on Tidal, perfectly indicates what we all should know about the trilogy: when Bey says ‘these comments absurd/And they swear they know you better than you know yourself’, she is commenting on the tabloid rumination over Jay-Z’s infidelity and the larger story of their marriage. In effect, the Carters want us to know that there will always be more to it than we can ever know. Firstly, they are private people with the same right to privacy as any of us. Second, they are artists, and we will never know the exact degree to which their art reflects their real life.
The opening track ‘Summer’ sets the score for this album: the Carters have worked out their troubles and their marriage is very much on track. In the conclusion, Bey tells Jay ‘You did some things to me / But love is deeper than your pain’ reminding us that she has chosen to forgive him, that ‘nightmares only last one night.’
The Carters don’t forget their commitment to showcasing the African-American experience in this album. ‘713’ is a reference to the Zip Code for Houston, Texas, where Beyoncé was born and this whole story began. As the song is largely Bey’s homage to her own hometown, Jay’s part details the early days of their courtship and relationship.
My only criticism of Everything is Love is that I think ‘Apeshit’, the single they released on YouTube alongside a video filmed at the Louvre, tries to be the ‘anthem song’ of the album, which I don’t think it succeeds. Whilst I do genuinely love the song, I just don’t think it matches up to ‘Freedom’, ‘No Church in the Wild’, ‘Run the World’, or ‘Single Ladies’ as equally anthemic, which is a shame.
I could go on forever talking about this album, but seeing as I clearly know very little about music, and love this album a lot, I won’t make you suffer through that. I’ll just finish by saying that Everything is Love gets 5-stars from me.
‘Everything Is Love’ is available now via Parkwood Entertainment / Columbia Records / SC Enterprises / Roc Nation