‘Act 1: Renaissance’: Beyoncé transforms sound and style 25 years into her career

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Eddie Okosi
Staff Writer

Beyoncé describes the vibe of the album as: “A safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom.” Photo courtesy of Consequence Sound

I do not remember who I was or what my life was like before “Renaissance.”

Beyoncé took time during quarantine to find shelter and escapism through music. She needed an outlet to release the stresses that come with an ever-changing world. She built a dance floor where all are welcome to let go and be their most free selves.

What makes this album so special is that all gloves were off. Beyonce’s queen status has been 100 percent cemented, never removed, and she is at a place where she has full creative freedom. The charts and numbers do not matter — Beyoncé intends to see her vision all the way through.

The 16-track album is an immediate get-on-your-feet mood booster. It’s a red high gloss lacquered concoction of 90s house, ballroom scene beats, disco influence, hip-hop and Afrobeat. Just picture it: riding on a white horse to Studio 54, then being carried toward a shiny disco ball-lit dance floor. This is an album filled with dance hits and songs that will become legendary deep cuts sure to last the test of time.

Earbuds, headphones or speakers are not enough to capture the full round essence of the album. It is an addiction; I could be listening to another playlist or song, but I find myself right back at “Renaissance.”

Yes, there are sadly those people who do not understand Beyoncé’s vocal ability and I hope they soon find the light. Beyoncé’s powerhouse voice has become stronger and holds grit. She has always been able to do vocal runs and acrobatics, but there is something about the genuineness and ease that these vocal arrangements possess.

One of the most proficient aspects of this album is not just the seamless transitions to each song making it hard to not listen to the album in full on every listen, but the songs themselves. The track “I’m That Girl” slams listeners right into the fantastical world of “Renaissance” without warning. 

“Alien Superstar” is a self love profession, an affirmation of uniqueness that completes listeners’ transformation into a new refreshed version of themselves with a galactic bridge like no other. “Plastic off the Sofa” is an intricate cooldown of vocal impossibility while also keeping the momentum. The song undoubtedly divides the album, as we witness the dark edgy queen of disco side immediately after with songs like “Virgo’s Groove,” “Move,” “America has a Problem” and “Pure/Honey.”

The last track, “Summer Renaissance,” is a wonderful nod to Donna Summer and closes the album without ending the atmosphere that Beyoncé created for us. When the song ends, listeners are going to immediately start the experience over from the beginning. 

Recent Beyoncé releases have exemplified her values of unashamed Blackness, and this album is no different. It calls on sounds most prominent in Black spaces, like the vibrant Black ballroom scene and R&B disco of soul train. Not to mention, Beyoncé amplified Black voices like Beam and Tems while also giving nods to her pop pioneers like Grace Jones and Nile Rodgers.

Just as people lament about the good old days when listening to a Michael Jackson, Madonna or Elton John record, this album will be a piece of work reminisced in the future.

Who knows what’s to come with “Renaissance” Acts 2 and 3? If they follow the same formula as Act 1, we could all have the privilege of witnessing one of the most legendary album runs in the history of music.

 

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