Once again, Mrs. Carter has returned to snatch our edges and leave us mesmerized.
Just a day before her scheduled appearance at Super Bowl 50, Beyonce drops the gritty, all-black-everything anthem “Formation,” proving again that the Queen clearly knows how to create a little buzz.
The video is EVERYTHING. Set in Louisiana, Beyonce boldly says in her videos what she will not say in interviews. 'Yonce (the very grown up, alter ego to Sasha Fierce) has given the ever-proper Beyonce a vacation and taken over. It is as if 'Yonce went into the studio and said “Hey producers…let's write a track that takes the attitude of “Grown Woman”, “Flawless”, “7/11” and “Bow Down”, add in a couple of lines about what I'm NOT here for anymore, make sure to remind everyone that I'm still slaying the game and remind the people to stop trying my patience because I'm still from the hood of Houston and they don't want these problems. Got it? K. Thanks!”
And when Beyonce, producer Mike Will Made It and co-writer Swae Lee (from the rap duo Rae Sremmurd) emerged, what they had was a song/video which they should have called “Beyonce: Uncut.”
Since “7/11” dropped, many people think this semi-rapping music (where she gives it to you unapologetically-raw) is a new direction for Beyonce, but honestly, she's been going down this road for a very long time. If you remember her song “Ego”, you'll remember that she was telling the world (as nicely as possible) that she had “every reason to feel like I'm that chic.” Every year that she grows and matures, Beyonce gives us a little more raw, insight into her thoughts and feelings about everything from feminism and equal pay (See: Run the World “F-u, pay me”) to the Black Lives Matter movement in the video for “Formation.” Beyonce knows that she has all the money she'll ever need and now she is just going to say what she wants to say (your feelings, be damned). What I appreciate is that she doesn't do it for the press or tabloids. She puts her views into the music.
King Bey also takes the time in this video to let us know that although she has all the money she'll ever need, at the core of her soul, she's still a black girl from Houston, TX. Think about that for a moment. Houston boasts the 9th largest population of African Americans in the country. It is a city bursting with black culture. Like Atlanta, Houston has it's own style of urban music (it's called Screw, for those of you that didn't know). This is the stuff Beyonce grew up listening to. This is what she's influenced by. Her line in the new video “Got all this money, but they couldn't take the country out me” is Beyonce's way of letting us know that she hasn't lost her sense of self. Houston is still in her. She's still “part negro, part creole.”
What I love about this piece of work is that Beyonce is unapologetically black all the way through this video. She is both showing and telling us that she is perfectly fine with her baby girl's hair in an Afro. She loves Shawn Carter's nose exactly like it is (thank you very much) and she is all about Red Lobster's Cheddar Bay biscuits. Me too, 'Yonce. Me too.
We know that she's the queen of a good anthem. “Formation” is the anthem for a lot of us. Black 30 and 40-somethings who's parents worked their butts off to provide us with a better life. Those of us who grew up middle-class and have made something of ourselves, but don't forget where we came from. This is the anthem for us. It's our continued to reminder to keep going, keep growing and keep SLAYING.
And in case you missed it, the last line of the video is my favorite. This is Beyonce's call to action for young black men and women everywhere. “Always stay gracious. Best revenge is your paper.”
Indeed it is, Bey.