By Terrance Turner
June 16, 2022 (updated June 20, July 20, July 27)
Beyonce is coming.
Late on the night of June 16, word broke that Queen Bey had (finally) announced a release date for her seventh studio album. The 16-song project, titled Renaissance, comes out on July 29.
In preparation for the album’s release, Beyonce covers this month’s edition of British Vogue. Editor-in-chief Edward Enniful listened to the album as part of the magazine’s cover feature. He enthused:
Instantly, a wall of sound hits me. Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul. As ever with Beyoncé, it is all about the intent. I sit back, after the wave, absorbing it all.
Variety quotes a source who offers more information: “The album will feature both dance and country-leaning tracks, the source says, with contributions from hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her 2008 hit “Halo” as well as hits for Adele, Taylor Swift, the Jonas Bros. and his own group, OneRepublic.” (“Halo” featured instrumentation similar to another pop song of that era and showcased Beyonce’s vocal growth over a gorgeous, operatic bridge; it won her a Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.) Also said to be involved is Raphael Saadiq, who has crafted hits for Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Andra Day. He also executive-produced “A Seat at the Table,” Beyoncé’s sister Solange’s critically acclaimed album from 2016.
The project is Beyonce’s first solo studio album since 2016’s Lemonade. Directly addressing the fallout from an affair by her husband Jay-Z, the album explored themes of betrayal, infidelity, and revenge — and, ultimately, healing and forgiveness. The album was acclaimed as one of Beyonce’s best, and it spawned several memorable singles (“Hold Up”, “Daddy Lessons”, “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, and “Formation”, among others). It won her a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album.
Now, Beyonce is prepping a new album that reflects her exhaustive creative process. As she told Enniful in late 2020: “I choose to invest my time and energy only in projects that I am passionate about. Once I’ve committed, I give it all of me. I start with identifying my intention and making sure that I am aligned with the collaborators for the same purpose. It takes enormous patience to rock with me. My process is tedious. I review every second of footage several times and know it backwards and forwards. I find every ounce of magic and then I deconstruct it. I keep building more layers and repeat this editing process for months. I won’t let up until it’s undeniably reached its full potential. I believe my strength is understanding how storytelling, music, lighting, angles, fashion, art direction, history, dance, and editing work together. They are all equally important.”
UPDATE (June 20): Beyonce has released the first single from the upcoming album. Titled “Break My Soul”, the pulsing dance track features the perspective of a hard-working woman looking for a new perspective: “I just fell in love/And I just quit my job/I just found new drive/Damn, they work me so damn hard/Work by nine/Then off past five/And they work my nerves/That’s why I cannot sleep at night.” But the chorus promises a new attitude: “MOTIVATION/I’m looking for a new foundation/And I’m on that new vibration/I’m building my own foundation,” she sings. “You won’t break my soul. And I’m telling everybody.”
The track then features a spoken chant from bounce music queen Big Freedia: “Release your anger, release your mind/ Release your job, release the time/ Release your trade, release the stress/ Release the love, forget the rest.”
According to Variety, the writing credits feature Jay-Z, Adam Pigott (a.k.a BlaqNmilD, who’s worked with Drake, Quavo, Megan Thee Stallion and many others), Freddie Ross, a.k.a Big Freedia, and the writers of Robin S’s 1993 hit “Show Me Love,” which is prominently sampled in the song. The track was released initially on the platform TIDAL — and then a lyric video was posted on YouTube, hours before its scheduled release at midnight. It’s embedded below:
UPDATE (July 20, 2022): Beyonce has released the tracklist for her upcoming album Renaissance.
- I’m That Girl
- Alien Superstar
- Cuff It
- Break My Soul
- Church Girl
- Plastic Off the Sofa
- Virgo’s Groove
- All Up in Your Mind
- America Has a Problem
- Summer Renaissance
Earlier this month Beyoncé shared the album’s cover artwork, which sees her posing regally atop the silhouette of a luminous horse. In a note accompanying the artwork, Beyoncé wrote:
This three act project was recorded over three years during the pandemic. A time to be still, but also a time I found to be the most creative. Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.
I want to give a special thank you to Rumi, Sir, and Blue for allowing me the space, creativity, and inspiration. And a special thanks to my beautiful husband and muse, who held me down during those late nights in the studio. A big thank you to my uncle Johnny. He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album. Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you. Thank you to my Parkwood crew, my slab, Dream, and all of the talented producers involved. Mama, I luhhhh you. To my father, my O.G., my first teacher: You inspire me in every move that I make. I love you.
To all of my fans: I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are.From Beyonce’s website
UPDATE: Just 36 hours before its slated release, Renaissance appears to have leaked online.Variety was able to find “high-quality flac files that certainly sound like the album” within a matter of minutes. Some posts showed CD copies of the album for sale, apparently in Europe.
Reps for Beyonce and the album’s distributor, Columbia Records, did not immediately respond to Variety’s requests for comment. This story will be updated as more news becomes available.