Music Reviews



Genre: Rap, R&B 



For celebrities as high-ranking as Beyoncé and JAY Z, it should seem quite strange that, in recent memory, we’ve heard quite little from them, compared to times when it seemed like every single step they took was broadcasted in some way or another. Indeed, the power couple of the entertainment industry has remained quiet in 2018; even the February birth of their twins, Rumi and Sir, only generated hype for the first few days, and were then soon forgotten about. And their collaborative stadium tour OTR II also seemed to be brushed under the rug as well. Oftentimes, when normally garguantan artists suddenly go quiet for some time, it often means new music is coming, and that happened to be the case with the pair’s new joint album titled EVERYTHING IS LOVE, billed as The Carters. But it makes sense we heard little leading up to its release. Both artists’ previous efforts were personal and revealing explorations of the darkest corners of their minds, leaving little to the imagination. EVERYTHING IS LOVE completes the trilogy in a way, confidently reasurring their love for each other, while putting the topics discussed on the aforementioned albums to rest.

However, despite what it may seem like, EVERYTHING IS LOVE wastes little time on personal matters, aside from “LOVEHAPPY”, which addresses the infidelity rumors that Bey’s Lemonade brought up and that Jay’s 4:44 apologized for. “Lucky I ain’t kill you when I met that b—“, Bey snaps in a tradeoff between the two before being cut off. “Y’all know how I met her/We broke up and got back together/To get her back, I had to sweat her”, Jay offers immediately after. That’s about as personal as the album gets. In classic fashion for both, the album is built around the larger-than-life boasts expected from someone of this high a caliber, even going as far as to rent out the entire Louvre to shoot the “APES**T” video. “Cash in deposits, 24-karat faucets/Louis V and Goyard trunks all in the closet”, Jay raps on “713”. Nothing is normal about EVERYTHING IS LOVE; even if you think they didn’t need a victory lap, that’s exactly what this album is, and turned up to 11. All the confessions and exorcisms tackled on Lemonade and 4:44 are now left in the past, and replaced with a glorious, high-end victory lap for both of them.

Of course, to round out all the braggadocio, the production on EVERYTHING IS LOVE is equally glitzy and grandiose. While Bey and Jay have co-production credits on every track, the main shapers of the album’s sound are Cool & Dre, Pharrell and Boi-1da. Pharrell shapes a Migos demo into a frenzied, synth-led trap banger on “APES**T”, and also crafts a bouncy, animated backdrop for “NICE” reminiscent of his older works with The Neptunes. Cool & Dre provide a smooth, laid-back soul beat on opening track “SUMMER”, and back up “713” with a canvas of glossy piano and 808 bass, while Boi-1da creates an ‘80s-esque funk beat on “HEARD ABOUT US”. Every beat on the album is crafted and mixed to perfection, complimenting the pair’s undeniable aura in the best way possible.

And what an aura they give off. EVERYTHING IS LOVE is the dictionary definition of “larger-than-life”, firing off glorious boasts that few may match, but nonetheless give the listener a sense of domination. Jay rejects performing at the Super Bowl, disses the Grammys, and casually says “that’s too famous, we don’t even really do famous”. And what other duo could just rent out the entire Louvre to shoot a video like it’s nothing? Bey also prominently features her little-seen rap side on the album, with “SUMMER” being about the only track showcasing her singing. And while rapping isn’t necessarily her strong suit in comparison to her singing, it still works for most of the album, even when it’s obvious that it’s not really her words (“APES**T”). “My great-great-grandchildren already rich/That’s a lot of brown children on your Forbes list”, goes a standout line on “BOSS”. The track also serves as a notable expansion of the two’s status as financial icons. “We measure success by how many people successful next to you”, Jay raps. The track, as do many others on the album, serve as a connection between the pair’s love and legacy.

In fact, a primary focus of the album is these connections between love and legacy. Bey interpolates lyrics from Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E”, which Jay helped write back in 1999, on the “713” hook, and pays homage to the “blueprint from my Jigga who never writes” on “NICE”; the same track also sees Bey claim that she’s “never seen a ceiling in [her] whole life”, a reference to her daughter Blue’s line on Jay’s “Blue’s Freestyle/We Family”, a bonus track off 4:44. The album, especially on “BLACK EFFECT”, serves as a reminder of the pair’s status and legacy in the black community, whittling it down to the Carter family and those outside of them, often those who have connections. Homages to everyone from Biggie, Common and Chief Keef to legends like MLK and Malcolm X permeate the album, portraying a glamorous canvas of black America, not unlike Jay’s other collab album, Watch the Throne with Kanye West, which also used the pair’s wealthy status to reflect on race in America. This also further deepens the connections between EVERYTHING IS LOVE and its surroundings, ultimately outlining a lineage between the Carters and their community.

And ultimately, after all this, it all comes down to Bey and Jay, who are a long ways away from the playfulness of “‘03 Bonnie & Clyde”, having fully established themselves as icons of a whole different degree. Lemonade and 4:44 each got the heavy stuff out of the way, leaving EVERYTHING IS LOVE to be the victory lap, the re-establishment of their legacies, rounding out the Carter trilogy in the most glorious way possible. The pair’s chemistry is undeniable, with both of them beaming in each other’s aura. “It’s Beyonce, n—, oh my god”, Jay boasts on “HEARD ABOUT US”, like a crazed fan at a concert for the first time, while Bey pays homage to the aforementioned “Still D.R.E” lyrics and the “blueprint from my Jigga who never writes”. The biggest sense of the pair’s chemistry comes when “LOVEHAPPY” culminates in the two trading off about the lesser points of their marriage, fully establishing the pair’s reconcilation in the best way possible. “This beach ain’t always been no paradise/But nightmares only last one night”, Bey sings in the chorus. Not only does EVERYTHING IS LOVE take an important place in the Carter family, it’s also just a hell of a fun album, with the pair almost always in perfect sync, firing off effortless boasts and brags at every corner like it’s nothing. Sure, it’s not quite the event that Lemonade and 4:44 were, but it’s still an event in its own right, a satisfying, personal and glorious thrill ride that few albums out there can match.

Photo courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment

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