The Gift that is Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter


I mean…I’m not even sure what to say. I don’t know if any of you have had the pleasure of watching Beyoncé Presents: Making The Gift yet, but if you haven’t, I implore you to do so. This is a 40-minute documentary, which showcased some interviews and behind-the-scenes footage of Beyoncé recording her Lion King-inspired album The Gift, along with some of the most vital, talented artists in Africa, as well as a selection of popular American artists. Beyoncé gives a brief breakdown of each song on the album, and reveals the inspiration for each song and the work that went into putting it together. From what I could tell, she travelled through Egypt, South Africa and I’m sure she touched Naija as well!

I don’t think I will ever see something put together by Beyoncé and not be in awe of it. It just seems like an impossible feat at this stage. However it wasn’t just her talent that floored me, although of course, as always…she SLAYS. Not only do I have a new level of respect for Queen Bey, which I really didn’t think was possible. I believe I may have beyonce-making-the-giftgained a tiny bit of insight into why she is the superstar she is. We already knew that Beyoncé made her trip to Africa with the intent of writing an ode to the amazing continent, the end result being The Gift. However I was so moved by the fact that she came with the intent to communicate with African producers, artists and choreographers in order to ensure that every song on the album was organic and rooted in our culture. She made it very clear how important it was to her that every influence which was implemented was pure, and that it wasn’t just her spin on African music.

I know this sounds like something insignificant that should be so obvious to anyone with a mission of creating such an album. However, you would be surprised at the arrogance of some artists, especially musical geniuses who have reached the heights which neighbour Beyoncé’s. At times it isn’t a malicious act, however there are several artists who want to infuse the beauty of African music with their own. But by the time you hear the finished result, their own genre almost completely overpowers the song. But not Queen Bey. From day one, she called on the creators she was with to teach her the sounds, the rhythms and the tradition that lies in our music and performance. From this, they worked together to create a genre of their own, which celebrated all the different influences beautifully. One part of the documentary that particularly stood out for me was when Jahanna Blunt joined the team once it came time to learn the choreography for the Spirit music video, Beyoncé’s single which was added to The Lion King soundtrack. Jahanna is a choreographer who grew up in L.A. and co-creator of a West African drum and dance company. In an interview, she recollects how astounded she was when Beyoncé’s choreographer, Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, asked her to show him and the team a couple of moves on the first day of rehearsals. She explained that her astonishment was because, in her experience of doing industry work, she is usually abc-announces-beyonce-presents-making-the-gift-to-air-september-16-4.pngasked to water down the material and make it “more palatable for a global audience”. Sounds familiar, and not unlike what seems to be the case when it comes to what I described above. The trait Beyoncé possesses which allows her to continue to learn from other people, even in her current reign, is one that I’m sure is a massive part of why she is the force that is Queen Bey.

Another thing which Beyoncé mentioned was important to her was to make this project something that children could get excited about listening to, as well as adults. This is what led her to show us how she included Blue Ivy in some of the vocals for the 2019 anthem for us melanin-enriched queens, Brown Skin Girl, also featuring Wizkid and SAINt JHN. Being able to watch this was empowering enough. But then this was shortly followed by the creation of another one of my favourite tunes on the album: My Power, featuring Tierra Whack, Moonchild Sanelly and Nija. Queen Bey explains that this song is “a celebration of power, and not allowing anyone to get in your psyche and to make you feel like you are anything less than a king.” Note that she said “king”, not queen. Seeing Beyoncé rap/recite her portion of the song…although she wasn’t singing a note, I swear to God that shit was so powerful that I almost shed a tear. That small 5-10 second moment was a perfect demonstration of why we love Beyoncé and what she gives us when she features on any song. She just…makes you feel. This sounds like a lame why of describing it, but if you love Beyoncé as much as I do, you’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. And this is the same woman who’s incredible Homecoming documentary/performance lost out to FUCKING CARPOOL KARAOKE! *deep breath* But that is a frustrating story for another day.

So, Beyoncé Presents: Making The Gift. Beyoncé-stans and members of The Beyhive, watch it if you haven’t already done so. Well, I’m sure The Beyhive are already all over it and have been tweeting about it since Monday. But for those of you who haven’t seen it, it was aired on ABC. I’m sure they will repeat it at some point in the week, however if you are impatient like me, you can find good quality versions on YouTube. I know I am personally making a note to watch it whenever I am in need of empowerment and motivation. Because right now, I am a whole moooood.

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Have You Ever Seen The Crowd Going Apeshit?

So in answer to the question above…err YES! All you had to do was be in The London Stadium on Saturday 16th June – at the very front row of the standing section, right up near the stage, between the hours of 8pm and 10.30pm. Going apeshit was certainly exactly what my best friend Keely and I were doing in those exact moments.

So I’m sure most of you who don’t live under a rock know that Jay-Z and the incredibly phenomenal Beyoncé have kicked off their second joint tour this year: On The Run II. I was one of the fortunate ones that was able to purchase a ticket to the second night of the tour in London last weekend. This was the night that Bey and Hove decided to drop the brand new album that they had been keeping under wraps. It’s called Everything Is Love and it is easily the best work of art that has been released since Lemonade. Seriously. I do realise that as a sworn member of the Beyhive I may be somewhat biased. However when you think of the release of Cardi B’s amazing album in April, along with the announcement of both Drake and Nicki Minaj’s upcoming albums, not to mention Pusha T’s, Kanye’s and J. Cole’s latest albums (which I still haven’t listened to completely yet, believe it or not), I was already under the impression that the bar had probably already been set pretty high when it comes to new music this year. Well Bey and Jay proved me wrong, because now that I’ve heard Everything Is Love, the bar is now so far up in the sky, the moon and the stars are looking up above and asking if it’s a fucking bird or a plane. Well moon and stars, no it isn’t. It’s the amazing Queen Bey and Jay-Z.

Anyway, I’ll go into more detail on the album shortly. Firstly, I want to illustrate just how amazing they were during the show on Saturday night. But merely calling it a show doesn’t seem to give it the justification it so deserves. It was more of an event, a work of art, a masterpiece of which spectators such as myself should feel almost as privileged as our brand new Duchess Megan Markle, at the fact that we can actually feast our eyes on such a thing. Actually, dare I say it, I think I probably feel even more privileged than Megan. She may have just landed a prince, but she didn’t get to see Beyonce perform mere feet away from her. Although she I’m sure she will get the opportunity at some point. She’ll probably even get to shake her hand and talk to her and everything, so I guess until then we’re about even.

As I watched the ebony goddess perform on Saturday evening, I found myself thinking about how she is consistently amazing. There are so many artists out there who are incredibly talented. But the reason I consider Beyoncé a force to be reckoned with is the way she outdoes her own self every time. Every single time we see her perform, whether it be live or from the comfort of our own homes, she unceasingly goes up a level if not two. And she appears to do it with such ease. Every move was executed with such precision and perfection, you’d think she came twerking out of the womb. Beyoncé always knows exactly what we want to see. Whilst she still holds onto elements of her style that we all love, she clearly simultaneously takes a close look at a lot of the new shit that comes out and incorporates certain aspects of it into her work. However she always manages to stay true to the Yoncé that we all love. To be honest, I have so many positive things to say about her and her performance, that I am finding it much harder to write this than I thought I would. I mean, how do you put so much passion, excitement and motivation into mere words? I guess it’s supposed to be my job to know that really.

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed Jay-Z’s performance as well. Not that I thought he wouldn’t be good. I mean, Jigga does his thing, I think we all know that. But I wasn’t really so focused on him up until the evening of. I was purely focused on seeing The Queen so close in the flesh and watching her slay, as any member of The Beyhive should be. And slay she did indeed. But anyway, yes Jay-Z went in also. Not only did he entertain us with his fairly new bangers such as The Story of OJ, as well as his mainstream bangers such as Niggas in Paris, but can you believe he also hit us with his old school tunes like 99 Problems and Dirt Off Your Shoulder. I forgot how much I loved Jay-Z’s music. I mean, I was never a huge fan like I am of Beyoncé. But I definitely agreed with the popular opinion that he is the best rapper out there. Yeah that’s right, I said it. Nas is the shit, but I don’t think he can construct a track quite like Hove. I think to be called the best rapper alive, at least one currently making music, you need to be constantly taking your music and yourself to another level, like Jay-Z does. And of course Beyonce. I just couldn’t exclude her from that, I’m sorry. Although I haven’t listened to Nas’s new album yet, so I can file that opinion in the TBC part of my mind until then.

If all this splendour wasn’t enough, the power couple decided to reveal their brand new video Apeshit, which was absolutely phenomenal. I’m purposefully not even going to describe it just to make those of you that haven’t watch it. But let’s just say that although you would not be able to go there and revisit it, Bey and Jay certainly made sure there would be an additional piece of art that can be associated with The Louvre Museum. The only thing negative thing on my mind during those few minutes of pure excitement and joy, is that my battery had died from the million and one videos I had taken throughout the evening. This meant that I was unfortunately not able to record it and post it for all my Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter to followers to start dying with jealousy that I was amongst the first to lay eyes on the masterpiece. It was all I could do not to suddenly remember there were actually other people around me, and make friends with the girl next to me who had got the whole thing on her phone to get her to send it to me. Not that I wouldn’t have if I thought there had been time in the final four minutes.

Everything Is Love: ahh what could I possibly say that would accurately describe the impeccability of this album. If you know me, you’ll know that I am a chatterbox. But I am genuinely struggling to find the words that will illustrate the power of the message in this album, and just how clearly each of their voices resonated through every word that was sung/rapped. I’m sure it’s no secret to most that Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce a while ago. The details of his betrayal are of course kept under wraps, as the dynamic duo have always been incredibly skilled at making sure the public only knows what they want them to. So Becky With The Good Hair is still out there somewhere, hiding from The Beyhive at all costs. Not that we know who she is, or she’d be six feet under by now. Or at the very least the branded name would be useless. She’d be Becky With The Nappy Hair, because no hair salon in town would ever touch her scalp again. No to mention that any bitch who would willingly fuck Beyoncé’s man would definitely take yours in a heartbeat. But I digress.

I would say Everything Is Love should be considered the final part of a trilogy. Lemonade is the album revealing the adultery, the 4:44 album is Jay-Z asking for Beyoncé’s forgiveness and Everything Is Love is the outcome of the aftermath. Both artists are speaking to the fans desperate to know the truth, but through their music. I remember listening to an audio of Beyonce telling us about when she first met Jay, and she explains that music was and always will be a strong connection between the two of them. So they used their mutual love of music, as well as the love for their beautiful children, as therapy in order for them to heal. The album truly is amazing. Every segment is extremely well considered, from the content of each of the nine songs, to the way entire thing is scripted in capital letters. They touch on so many things in each track: the importance of their role as two black billionaires (combined), Jay’s estrangement from Kanye West and Beyoncé makes it clear that music isn’t a numbers game to her by stating “If I gave two fucks about streaming numbers, would have put Lemonade up on Spotify.” Too true Bey, too true. They even take some well deserved shots at Donald Trump. Yes Mr. Trump, in the world of Black Excellence you will always be an irrelevant enemy. You’d best keep yourself hidden in the back streets with Kanye and the other white bigamists. I’ve listened to the album all the way through about four times now (and yes I am also listening to it right now), and I feel as if you get to know the dynamic duo so much better every single time you hear it. Beyoncé even mentions that she learnt a lot about her new elements of rap from her husband. Who apparently never writes and just freestyles, which is so crazy. It is clear how passionate they both are about their children, and how love and music has helped them both rise from the ashes, which would be the pain and betrayal, like the beautiful phoenixes they are.

I’ve always been a proud member of the Beyhive and a huge fan of Jay-Z’s music, but since Saturday night I’ve been feeling…different. Then I after I listened to Everything Is Love for the second time, and I mean really listened to it, something struck me. As I was watching Beyoncé perform, it occurred to me that this woman doesn’t just slay because she’s amazing. I mean, she is. But she also slays because she works. HARD. Beyoncé has done nothing but rise further and further to the top since her early Destiny Child days, but she just goes harder. Every year she becomes increasingly more successful, but this does not ever slow her grind. If anything, the results just make her hungrier and reach to new heights the on the next occasion. However it didn’t really occur to me that Jay-Z had the very same work ethic until I really sat down and listened to every lyric of the album properly. I mean, he’s always been Hove but this has never stopped him. He’s gone from drug dealer, to rapper, to best rapper in the game, and finally to the baller and businessman he is now. But yet, he STILL continues to work like he’s still a broke nigga from Brooklyn. How crazy is that work ethic? It’s so crazy that it seems nothing short of unbelievably insane that I haven’t even cracked the surface. But yet I’ve literally been sitting on my ass in comparison. What’s that about? Well no more of it. Ever since last weekend, I really have felt a fire in me that I’ve never really felt before, and I really, really do not want to put it out. Because what music is to Beyoncé and Jay-Z, is what writing is to me. Writing is my therapy, except I am nowhere near finished with my session. Hell I haven’t even started; I’ve barely sat on the sofa and opened my mouth. You do get the analogy I’m going with here, right? If not, my apologies.

So this is exactly why I’m sitting here writing this. Still in the office just over two hours after my shift ended. It certainly isn’t because I love it here. It’s because I love this: writing is my escape, my release, my passion, my everything. It is me. But while I think I have a natural way with words, I am aware that I’ve still got a long way to go. I am literally days away from my twenty-fifth birthday, and while I know it’s not quite time to wear the “old maid” outfit just yet, it certainly isn’t the time to keep delaying the start of the journey. I definitely don’t consider myself the Beyoncé of the writing world, but I truly believe I could get there if I apply myself, show true dedication and work hard. Mark my words, one of these days I will have my own Everything Is Love, which I hope will inspire another budding talent such as myself. However, until then, I will continue to hone my craft and grind until I too can say that I slay.