It is no secret that I think Beyoncé is the most important and talented artist in the world. With that up front, I was counting down to the release of this record. Now, nothing can compare to the instant classic Lemonade released in 2016, which is easily one of, if not the, best records within the past 10 years. Other than some Lion King projects and Homecoming, we did not have an original studio release to sink our teeth into. Well, the six year wait is over…and man was the wait worth it.
RENAISSANCE has a definite dancehall / club vibe, much like Madonna’s beloved record Confessions on a Dance Floor in 2005. Some tracks lean into it more than others, but it is definitely a vibe. For me, the track PURE / HONEY is an example of everything I love about Beyoncé and why this record still has her as the queen of pop music. First of all, this track is roughly three songs in one. We start with some heavy sampling and rave era electro grooves. Thumping bass steamrolls over steely synth that sounds like an alien plucking on an electric rubber band. The beat drops and you are in the club. Neon and sweat fill the air as the song relentlessly moves forward…but…what? A disco bridge? This is a nice break from the club and keeps you on your toes and engaged with the track. The change of pace lifts the entire track and gives you a jolt of energy that you can use to dance all night. For me, the tonal shift is brilliant and really makes the track.
Lyrically, this song exudes sex and power. Now, this song might not be for everyone, because it is clearly the most vulgar track Beyoncé has ever produced. Having said that, the power and strength in her vocal owns words that are used by men to degrade women. Lizzo, Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, Missy Elliott and Doja Cat are all part of a movement taking ownership of once degrading vulgarities and using them to assert their power. This inversion of patriarchal power was also a theme in Lemonade. The first half of the song gives you the raw sexy power of Beyoncé’s hip hop delivery, while the back half sees her back to her pop / R&B roots over a disco bridge. Both sections work well together to give you the full Beyoncé experience.
“It should cost a billion to look this good.” Beyoncé tosses this line out like bait on a hook with her sexy disinterested snarl. This is Beyoncé at the height of her power and not afraid to flaunt it. I adore Beyoncé and along with producers / guests like Grace Jones, Raphael Saadiq, Skrillex and others they have created a sexy power fantasy set on a dance floor. Beyoncé is still pushing the boundaries and putting out some inspiring music. Take the acid dance trip.
Listen to PURE/HONEY