January 2, 2014


What Exactly is Beyoncé Trying to Say on Her New Album?

Courtesy of Parkwood Productions
Courtesy of Parkwood Productions

Beyoncé's self-titled album shattered iTunes records and may have changed the way that music is released forever.  But what message is she trying to convey with the record's lyrics?  Kara Brown, a writer at Noisey.com, says, "This is very much a black feminist album.  I think that it's a lot more overtly feminist than some of her other music.  It's very much rooted in blackness and black womanhood."

But not everyone agrees.

Mako Fitts Ward, an activist, writer, and co-founder of RealColoredGirls.wordpress.com told Fuse News that, "When you're presenting those images in a marketplace that is all about the selling of products, the question becomes, How do you engage in a progressive politic when your intention is to sell a product?"

Beyoncé has clearly taken ownership of this album.  She's an executive producer of the record, she co-directed four of the videos, and she co-wrote all of the tracks. And she hasn't been shy about using the album to shed some light on her personal life, sharing glimpses of her daughter Blue Ivy, as well as her relationship with husband Jay Z.

It's one lyric from Jay that has some critics questioning Beyoncé's message for women.  On the track "Drunk in Love," Jay quotes an Ike Turner line from the movie "What's Love Got To Do With It," rapping:

Catch a charge I might Beat the box up like Mike in '97 I’ll bite 
I'm Ike, Turner, turn up 
Baby no I don't play 
Now eat the cake, Anna Mae I said Eat the cake, Anna Mae

Christa Bell, who is also a co-founder of RealColoredGirls.wordpress.com, said, "We take issue with proclaiming yourself a feminist and then having your husband, Jay Z, get on your album and cameo talking about how he's gonna beat you like Ike Turner!"

Fitts Ward adds, "The lyric takes away from any understanding, I think, of an empowered sexuality because you're linking the act of empowered sexuality with violence, domestic abuse, and rape. So when you merge those two things together it calls into question the 'empowering' nature of that song."

In "***Flawless," Beyoncé again makes a bold statement, saying: 

I took some time to live my life
But don't think I'm just his little wife 
Don't get it twisted, get it twisted
This my s***, bow down bitches

Emma Gray, a Senior Editor at HuffPost Women says, "Unlike Miley Cyrus who says, 'Yes, she's a feminist' in an interview, Beyoncé puts feminism into her music, into her lyrics, and is claiming that term in such an overly direct way."

While her lyrics have been dissected, Beyoncé's release of this album - without any advance marketing or promotion - seems to indicate that she is very much a woman in charge.

Brown says, "To me, the way that she released this album was clearly as message to everyone.  You think you did this well, but let me do it even better."

All hail Queen B!

—Segment produced by Carolyn Lopez and Jaimie Sanchez
—Article by Alan Noah