Beyoncé has returned after six years after releasing “Lemonade” with her latest solo album “Renaissance,” a 16-track album — the first installment of a “three act project” — the house track head banger with Big Freedia, “Break My Soul,” as well as songs with collaborations from Jay-Z, Skrillex, 070 Shake, The-Dream, Drake, and Grace Jones. “Renaissance, also features two songs with guest vocalists: Jamaica-born, Miami-raised reggae artist Beam appears on “Energy,” and Grace Jones and Tems lend their raw and soulful voices to “Move.”
Recorded over the course of the pandemic, “creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” she said in her Instagram post. “It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”
In addition to a diverse list co-composers, “Renaissance” inserts music written by Donna Summer on (“I Feel Love” on “Summer Romance,”) James Brown (on “Church Girl”), and Teena Marie. The album also includes funky contributions from Raphael Saadiq, Mike Dean, Honey Dijon, Chris Penny, Luke Solomon, and Sheila E. who contributed percussion to “Cuff It,” which features guitar by Nile Rodgers.
Kelis’ “Milkshake” is was included in on “Energy”; which lit the internet on fire when Kelis responded to online rumors of Beyoncé sampling her work by calling it “theft.”
Two days before the album was set to arrive, it leaked. Just before the album’s official release, Beyoncé released a statement thanking her fans for waiting.
“So, the album leaked, and you all actually waited until the proper release time so you can all enjoy it together,” she wrote. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t thank y’all enough for your love and protection. I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early. It means the world to me. Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you for being patient. We are going to take our time and enjoy the music. I will continue to give you all my all and do my best to bring you joy. I love you deep.”
“Renaissance” marks the first solo studio album from Beyoncé since the release of 2016’s visual album “Lemonade”. A press release for “Renaissance” discusses the artist’s decision to stray from the visual album format. Beyoncé “decided to lead without visuals giving fans the opportunity to be limitless in their expansive listening journey,” the release notes states. “It is a chance again to be listeners and not viewers, while taking in every gem of the pristine production.” The release also refers to “Renaissance” as “a celebration of a club era when anyone who felt like an outsider sought each other and formed a community of freedom-seekers to express themselves creatively through the rhythm, which we still celebrate today.”
What has Beyoncé been up to
Since Lemonade, Beyoncé has still been very busy releasing two other full-length projects: the Jay-Z collaboration “Everything is Love” and her live album “Homecoming” in 2019. That same year she led the soundtrack to Disney’s movie “The Lion King” (2019) as its executive producer and joined the cast as Nala.
In 2020, Beyoncé shared “Black Is King,” her first visual album based on the music of “The Lion King: The Gift.” The project was written, directed, and executive produced by Beyoncé. Her visual for the movie’s “Brown Skin Girl” took home the Grammy Award for Best Music Video in 2021. She also won alongside Megan Thee Stallion for “Savage” in the Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song categories. Beyoncé broke a record that year, becoming the woman with the most Grammy wins ever.
Soon after, the Queen Bey shared “Be Alive” from the film “King Richard” and for the 2022 Oscars, filmed a week prior at the Compton tennis courts where Venus and Serena Williams ran drills as children.