Welcome to the Beyoncé renaissance. (Kevin Winter/Getty Images for The Recording Academy)
MUSIC

Beyoncé Enters Her ‘Renaissance’ Era

The 28-time Grammy winner announced her seventh studio album in the middle of the night, and the internet predictably erupted. When Beyoncé speaks, the world listens.

Beyoncé told us this was coming last August as part of a cover spread in Harper’s BAZAAR heralding her 40th birthday.

“With all the isolation and injustice over the past year, I think we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again,” the cultural icon told the publication when asked about new music. “I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible.”

Beyoncé’s particular choice of words came full circle in the earliest hours of Thursday morning with the announcement of her seventh LP.

The Beyoncé Renaissance arrives July 29:

Notably, the 16-track album is billed as “act i.” Maybe the 28-time Grammy winner is picking up the double-album baton from Kendrick Lamar and May’s Mr. Morale & the Big Steppers. Maybe it’s the first entry in a sprawling immersive experience.

The Beyhive was put on high alert last week when Beyoncé removed her profile picture across her social media accounts, but really, there’s no point in guessing about the particulars of what’s next. We were reminded in the middle of the night that Beyoncé always provides answers in due time.

To truly get things underway, Beyoncé began Thursday on the cover of British Vogue. Inside the July issue, Edward Enninful teased what July will bring by describing his first experience listening to Renaissance:

“Instantly, a wall of sound hits me. Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul. As ever with Beyoncé, it is all about the intent. I sit back, after the wave, absorbing it all.

“The creation has been a long process, she explains, with the pandemic giving her far longer to spend thinking and rethinking every decision. Just the way she likes it.”

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Lemonade rocked the world, becoming Beyoncé’s sixth No. 1 album in April 2016. But while she hasn’t released a solo full-length project in what feels like an eternity, she has been far from silent in the intervening six years.

She became the winningest woman artist in Grammy Awards history in 2021. At the 63rd Grammys, she claimed Best Music Video (“Brown Skin Girl”), Best Rap Song (“Savage” with Megan Thee Stallion), Best Rap Performance (“Savage”), and Best R&B Performance (“Black Parade”). Prior to that, Beyoncé and husband Jay-Z dropped the collaborative album Everything Is Love in June 2018; she provided the soundtrack for Disney’s reimagining of The Lion King the following year.

Come 2020, Beyoncé released her Black Is King musical film and visual album, an innovative project she executive produced, as a supplemental piece to The Lion King: The Gift.

Most recently, Beyoncé was nominated at March’s 94th Academy Awards under the Best Original Song category for her King Richard contribution, “Be Alive.”

Four Renaissance box sets are available to purchase on Beyoncé’s official website. Each of the four collectibles includes a CD, four-panel softpak, 28-page photo booklet, and a mini poster. Rest assured they’re flying off the proverbial shelves despite the remaining unknowns.

Song titles? Don’t know yet. Cover art? Probably stunning! Potential features? Who cares?!?

When it’s Beyoncé, it doesn’t matter. It’s always worth it.

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