Beyoncé once proclaimed that she "changed the game with that digital drop" when she released her self-titled fifth studio album (see: "***Flawless (Remix)") and that statement is still true to this day. I remember exactly where I was and who I was with when I heard the news that she dropped an album with no promotion. That's how impactful it was. This past Saturday, she did it once again, but this time with her husband, JAY-Z, and it was only available to Tidal subscribers. They just kicked off their OTR II tour in Europe and toward the end of one of their London shows, the words "ALBUM OUT NOW" appeared in huge text on their monitors. This is what fans have been waiting for for years. Some even gave up hope and thought it just wasn't a possibility. Up until this album came to fruition, the pair has racked up roughly a dozen tracks together since 2003 and it seems that they picked the perfect time to pull the trigger on this collaborative album.
EVERYTHING IS LOVE concludes this roller coaster of a trilogy that was kicked off by Bey's groundbreaking Lemonade in 2016 followed by Jay's eye-opening 4:44 just last year. Both of their respective albums went on to be nominated for Album of the Year back-to-back years at the GRAMMYs, but both lost to pop stars (Adele and Bruno Mars, if you were curious). Bey went two for nine and Jay went zero for eight, which he laughs about in one of the albums tracks because awards don't define success. Will this "Part Three" be the one? It's about two-thirds of the way through the GRAMMY fiscal year, so it's still unclear. An AOTY nomination does seem imminent, however, but not necessarily a win.
The album is great and stands out in arguably one of the best months we'll probably see in music history. It really began at the end of May with Pusha T's DAYTONA, followed Kanye's ye, then his joint album with Kid Cudi with Kids See Ghosts, Nas' Nasir, and we still have the West-produced Teyana Taylor album and Drake's Scorpion to round out the month of June. Though LOVE is a collaboration, which we've been seeing a lot of recently, it sets itself apart from the rest (maybe because it's not produced by Kanye?). Instead, it celebrates the current status of The Carters and gives the fans closure they've been looking for. First, we were pissed, then we were skeptical, and now we're all just having a good time together.
LOVE fittingly starts with "SUMMER" where it's immediately declared that "Love is universal / Love is going to express itself as a form of forgiveness and compassion for each other". Right off the bat, they've convinced us that that's all they really have for each other now. Cut to: "APESHIT". The visual that they released for this single was, in itself, apeshit. They portrayed moving Black images right in front of famous pieces of art done by white artists in the fucking Louvre. How insane is it that!? The most powerful black couple in music has so much money that they rented out the entire Louvre just to make a statement. A statement that's very bold, very loud, and very clear. On top of that, the track itself is fire and would like to see it as the new opener for OTR II. The world needs more Yoncé raps!
The majority of the album is The Carters bragging about how rich they are and, honestly, that's fine. It's not like they're being assholes about it. It's also not a secret; we get to live vicariously through their words. And even if they wanted to be, they're allowed to. The album is essentially Watch the Throne 2 (that we'll definitely never get), sans Kanye, enter Bey (she even says the words "watch the thrones" on the last song). In fact, at times, the album almost seems like it's solely Beyoncé's with JAY-Z features, but he still managed to hold his own for the most part. Though love is the obvious main theme of the record, the duo was able to touch on other relevant subjects such as strong bonds with others ("FRIENDS"), the African-American experience ("BLACK EFFECT"), and a special shout out for Bey's hometown of Houston ("713"). If one of the tracks was going to be deemed a "Part III", it would be "HEARD ABOUT US", in which their Bonnie and Clyde routine seems to come to an end. They then close on a personal note where The Carters deliver a playful, but serious, back and forth where Bey finally declares that Jay's "...love is deeper than your pain and I believe you can change / Baby, the ups and downs are worth it."
All kinds of master producers were involved on this album, like Pharrell Williams, Mike Dean, Cool & Dre, Boi-1da, and then some. Each one of them did an outstanding job on LOVE and they brought their A-games, especially Williams. One of which was "APESHIT" (accompanied with ad-libs from Quavo and Offset of Migos) and the other was "NICE", where Skateboard P laid the only guest verse on the album that doesn't ruin or thrown off the Jay & Bey dynamic. Williams hasn't produced anything for either one of the two since 2013 and it was vital to bring him back because he honestly knows how to make these stars shine (see: "Superpower", "Change Clothes").
Who knew that such a controversial event in their lives would give us some of their best bodies of work? Who would've thought we'd get to hear each side of the story though their music instead of interviews? Whatever the answer may be, they were generous enough to share it with the world and to be able to do that is to truly understand that everything is love. ★★★★
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