EVERYTHING IS LOVE – The Carters come full circle

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It all started with an infamous elevator ride at The Standard Hotel following the 2014 Met Gala after-party. Security cameras captured the wildly sensational footage of Solange lunging at her brother-in-law, Jay-Z, in a confrontational rage of kicks and punches. Beyonce, immaculately dressed, stands calmly off to the side as her bodyguard struggles to intervene. The breaking news of this scandalous event sent shockwaves around the world with everyone desperate to know: why??? It would be another two years of speculations before Beyonce dropped the unannounced earth-shattering album “Lemonade”, further alleging what we all believed to be the cause of what happened in the elevator: her husband’s infidelity. “Lemonade” would become a significant cultural moment with its references to calling out “Becky with the good hair” and the stunning visual album featuring the deeply written verse of British-Somali poet Warsan Shire.

It also stands as the foundational shift in deliberately celebrating Black Excellence, and the African-American cultural existence. This motif threads through each of the albums that the Knowles-Carter clan has released since that infamous elevator incident. Hits like “Formation”, performed by Beyonce during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show with a theme celebrating the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, and “Freedom” featuring Kendrick Lamar were implicit in promoting unapologetic Blackness within mainstream USA. Six months after “Lemonade”, Solange released her third LP, “A Seat At The Table”, an album that masterfully unfolds as a love letter and instructional manual to Black America. The following year, in the summer of 2017, Jay-Z rolled out his 13th studio album, “4:44”, as an exclusive release for subscribers of his music streaming service before making it widely available on other platforms. Though he’s had other songs pointing to Black consciousness, “4:44” was unprecedented in its conscious, uplifting themes of attaining generational Black wealth, strategic creation of legacies, embracing love in all forms and moving forward as a positive family unit. It also served as Jay-Z’s moment of confession, using the platform to address head on his infidelity and how it all but tore his family apart, finally putting to rest ongoing speculations. His streaming platform included the “Footnotes for 4:44”, a collection of documentary-style videos featuring male celebrities of color in a group counseling environment normalizing the need for therapy. During the session, Jay-Z and each of his comrades open up to discuss the emotional vulnerability of challenging growing pains and maturing within marital relationships. In many ways, as Jay-Z went on his press tour to discuss “4:44” and the impact of seeking professional counseling, the collective messaging of Jay-Z and Beyonce evolved into incorporating all things Black American at the forefront of their brand. Videos that were shot for both, the “Lemonade” and “4:44” albums, revolve around artists of the African Diaspora and phenomena distinct to the African-American experience. Most memorably, Beyonce put on full display Historically Black College and University (HBCU) Greek life during Coachella, while the video for Jay-Z’s “Moonlight” recasts the characters of the hit sitcom “Friends” with the hottest Black actors, Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Lil Rel Howery, and Jerrod Carmichael.

While both, Jay-Z and Beyonce, have revealed in past interviews their intentions to release a duet project, they surprised fans once again in June 2018 with the unannounced album “Everything Is Love”, recorded together as The Carters. Pushing further to the max themes of marital reconciliation, building wealth, and Black excellence, the album puts melanin magic on full display, particularly with its remarkable first video single “Apeshit”, filmed with a host of Black dancers inside the Louvre. The album arrives just in time as the power couple’s second installment of their “On The Run” tour gets underway. Criticisms of the tour, however, are that with all of their love for Blackness on full display, The Carters have failed to include any African cities on the tour schedule. Though Jay-Z has performed in Johannesburg, South Africa, back in 2016 with Rihanna, fans from Nairobi to Addis Ababa to Lagos are waiting on The Carters to come through with the tour. While they’ve made no formal plans to visit any of these markets, it bears mentioning that while Nas and Damian Marley had intentions to tour African cities after releasing “Distant Relatives”, an album dedicated to bridging Africa and Black America, it never came to fruition. It wasn’t until seven years later that Damian Marley actually pulled together an African leg of his “Stony Hill” tour, while Nas has performed there several times. So, The Carters touring in Africa may not be so far off in the future if the Beyhive gives them a little more time.

 
Written by Mai Perkins

A Cali girl in a Bed-Stuy world with global bon vivant flair, Mai has several blogs under her belt, including MaiOnTheMove.com, and she is a contributing writer for publications like Relevant Magazine and ShoppeBlack. Completing an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and an MA in International Affairs from The New School, she reps her beloved alma mater Howard University with great pride and swag. IG: flymai16

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