50 Shades of Beyonce: The ARTSEXPOP of “BEYONCE”

There are so many statements to get out in the open about Beyonce’s self-titled album, it’s almost daunting. But. I will say this first and foremost. Queen/King Bey is having a major janet. album. Either you know or don’t know what that means, but regardless here’s a reminder. It’s in reference to when the baby of the Jackson family, Janet, went rogue in 1993 with janet. (aka that famous sepia photo of which her bare breasts are covered by her then-husband Rene Elizondo). Ms. Jackson was abruptly no longer timid or restrained on expressing her personal thoughts on the joys of sex. While Beyonce has manicured an image flirting on lascivious since she went solo in 2003, the intensity and willingness of giving her sexuality to the public has never been as jarring and electrifying as on BEYONCE, backed by the white hot imagery of its videos . For a majority of the album, it is her aggressive and mature recollections of passion and intimacy that steal the show, yet as a whole it is a fully circled evolution of an artist once described as essentially the shy, hot girl by Rolling Stone.

Once upon a Louboutin, she was so meticulous about her presence, thinking about the idea of the woman’s role was always a part of her repertoire. Her true awakening was on 4, an album that divided fans for while the leading single was the girl power, booming “Run the World (Girls)”,  it was quite ballad heavy and packed with a kind of intensity that basically had Beyonce on the ledge of if I can’t have you, I want nothing. The core elements of a Beyonce record: sassy and emotional, were however beautifully complex on 4, allowing it to be her most mature record, even on the fun tracks. On her first LP Dangerously in Love, she was underdeveloped on the context back, and her original exploration of Afrobeats on B’Day found her excitedly curious and on how to please a man while being on independent woman. Then there was I Am…Sasha Fierce, a tad setback as it was a return to form as just glossy feminism. On the latter in particular, her views and presentation have become brasher, multi-variegated, and frankly the epitome of the feminine mystique in a day and age in which women have had it all more than ever before and are demanded to explain their desire for such epic ambitions (this is all here on BEYONCE).

On BEYONCE, “Single Ladies” is incredibly Chuck E. Cheese in
comparison, but all of her albums with sporadic songs (e.g. “Ego”) have lead
her to this wild when wet moment. As one of few female artists to earn odd
appraisal from culture and psychology analyst-bizarro Camille Paglia, along with
Rihanna, according to her calculations are Madonna’s (in manys ways, this
is Beyonce’s Erotica. Cue: “Haunted”) superior successors in displaying sex and power in a manner that is intimidating and inspiring towards their female loyalists. Katy Perry battles being sexy while dressing like a cupcake. Taylor Swift is hanging on to what’s left of her chaste appeal. Miley was desperate for us to accept her as seductive. Lady Gaga is uniquely sexy to her antipodal critics but is still often too elaborate in her approach. In 2012, Beyonce asked you to “please accept my shine”. In 2013, you’re gonna have to accept the fact she wants respect and your sex. For BEYONCE, the innuedos were rampant for the “Rocket” video. “Blow” is disguised as kittenish when it’s a give it to me right raunch-fest. Thus, that Monica Lewinsky reference on “Partition” was damn near shattering to hear from her to the ears (you can thank The-Dream for that. If you’re already familiar with his work, your shock just went down some definite notches).

15 years later in the music game, she’s provided us with another piece of magnetic and enigmatic material to the puzzle that is feminism, and this album will in time be inducted into the curriculum of women’s rights classes at universities worldwide. In using sex and feminism as the ends of her pendulum, Beyonce also surprisingly interjects the concept of womanism, which is largely based on the black woman’s side of feminism since there’s been a strong belief that feminism’s represention by a majority of white women makes it inclusive. This came to light earlier this year with the childish mockery of the aspirational organization Black Girls Rock! with the Twitter hashtag #whitegirlsrock and the other infamous tag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen that argued black and white women have been separated when it comes to standing up for the same kind of equality. On Beyonce’s determined tune “Flawless” included is a prose from Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche that questions the disparate values that are taught to boys and girls. “Flawless” alone is the apple of BEYONCE’s intense glare. At the beginning, Beyonce abrasively lampoons individuals whose hustle is not on par to hers (“bow down bitches”), cutting to Adiche’s contemplation (“We Should All Be Feminists”), and swerves to lyrics of a nobody can’t hold me down recalcitrance and community (“Flawless”). The three parts are somewhat contradictory (one minute: overblown confidence; the next minute: former insecurity leading to burning resolution) yet are all organically intertwined by their common to rise above the competition within, not just along outsiders.

 BEYONCE, the album, is making feminism a challenge for us to once again re-define, and it’s not a movement only experienced by white women and isn’t always led by women that are non-stiletto wearers and man-haters. And the hidden treats along this ride is that the album isn’t just about celebrated carnal romps, but there are tracks pertaining to social justice/injustice, mourning, battling body dysmorphia, possession, using demons as gateways, and in raising the next generation. It commenced with 4, and now her 5th effort is her most layered worthy of discussion on what it says about the place of the intricate woman.

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