Beyonce & Jay Z
Everything Is Love (released June 16, 2018)
You literally can’t sleep on the Carters.
Your boy tried to take a nap Saturday afternoon after a pretty busy morning. But I couldn’t get a minute’s rest – my phone was on vibrate on the other end of the couch, just going ballistic.
I should have known the Beyhive was doing all that buzzing.
I finally awoke to Beyonce and Jay Z’s surprise release Everything Is Love, the couple’s first joint album.
First things first: This is truly a joint effort, not a bunch of Beyonce songs with Jay verses tacked on to the end, nor does Jay hog the limelight while Bey is relegated to hook duty.
In fact, if you’re looking for a bunch of sweet R&B ballads like the 4 album or a Reasonable Doubt-era lyrical showcase, look elsewhere. Beyonce barely sings at all, in fact. Everything is Love is all about upbeat production, bravado-soaked bars and a whole lotta stuntin’.
It’s the summer and the Carters just wanna have fun.
You better get used to hearing the album’s first single, “Apes**t,” because I guarantee it will be PLAYED IT INTO THE GROUND before the leaves start changing colors. It’s as trappy as the trap can get – complete with Bey and Quavo skrrt skrrt-ing all over the beat – but her over-the-top boasting (“I got expensive fabrics/I got expensive habits … Bought him a jet/Shut down Colette”) and addictive production elevate it above the usual lazy trap fare that churns out your speakers daily.
The visuals for “Apes**t” raise the standard even higher, featuring the Carters commandeering The Louvre in Paris and turning it into a black arts expo.
Even the album cover features a brother getting his hair did in front of the Mona Lisa.
You won’t see a blacker image in all of 2018.
Oh and pro tip, my brothers and sisters: Don’t go in your local art museum trying to re-enact this video. You are not Jay nor Beyonce and I do not have bail money for you.
While the decadence of “Apes**t” is guaranteed to grab all the headlines, Everything is Love’s real strength is the chemistry between the headliners.
The minimalistic “Boss” isn’t much more than horns and harmonizing, but Bey and Jay take full advantage of the lax real estate, slinging bars back and forth like Lil Kim and Big Poppa in their heyday. Beyonce really talks greasy on “Nice”:
Patiently waiting for my demise
‘Cause my success can’t be quantified
If I gave two f***s ,two f***s about streaming numbers
Would have put Lemonade up on Spotify
Sheesh, thanks for clarifying. No doubt Rapper Bey has caused Black Twitter to YASSSSSSSSS itself into a coma but, come on y’all, she ain’t Lauryn Hill circa 1998. She’s best in small doses. In most cases Jay wisely steps in before Bey wears out her welcome, proving yet again that he’s nearly untouchable in the booth.
If any of you thought Jay’s return to form was a fluke on last year’s 4:44, he’s happy to prove his worth again on “Black Effect:”
A n**** late but he best dressed
Got slowed down by the weight of my necklaces
Parked the Lexus in the projects, b**** I’m reckless
Extra magazine hopped on a Jet with my Ebony chick
Blacker than the Essence Fest
The behind the back pass is so effortless
Lebron James to you Omarosas
Bey basically just yells goofy ad-libs in the background, which do well to accentuate the song. Again, Everything Is Love shines when the couple plays off each other.
Everything Is Love is fun but far from flawless***, with the overuse of trendy tricks like unnecessary autotune (“Friends”) and an avalanche of ad-libs (ENOUGH with the skrrt skrrt, y’all) being cute on the first listen but exhausting on repeat spins.
But at its core, Everything Is Love is simply a celebration of black love. The album closer “Lovehappy” paints that picture better than anything hanging at the Louvre. Jay and Bey tag team their verses like Jadakiss and Styles P and honestly depict the ups and downs of their relationships.
Bey’s hook sums it all up: “You did some things to me, boy, you do some things to me/But love is deeper than your pain and I believe you can change … This beach ain’t always been no paradise/But nightmares only last one night.”
Take it from a brother who celebrated 12 years of wedded bliss this year – marriage is not easy. So while y’all waste time playing armchair marriage counselors and obsessing over TMZ headlines from four or five years ago, Jay and Bey have moved beyond the drama and blame games. All they really need is each other.
Love is stronger than pride. Picture that.
Best tracks: “Black Effect,” “Lovehappy,” “Boss”
4 stars out of 5