Four years after speculation about a joint album arose, Beyoncé and JAY-Z arrive with Everything Is Love. At nine songs (including the bonus track, "SALUD!"), music's royal couple shut down the weekend, put a halt to Yeezy season, and engulfed America with black love. What a fitting addition to Black Music Month. Everything Is Love is a pivotal moment in pop culture, as it finds its two ginormous figures contextualizing their marriage, power, and legacy for all to experience. Moreover, the album is testament to unconditional love, and how it essentially is the best defense against life's trials and tribulations. Love truly conquers all, and that message is deeply rooted in this release.
The first-ever joint album by the Carters, Everything Is Love completes a soul-barring trilogy that started with Lemonade and 4:44. As the album continues to splash the world with its Tidal wave, here are a few things to know about Hov and King Bey's collaborative project.
Considering their affinity for the no. 4, it's unclear if the intent was to drop the album four years after it was first announced, but here we are and this is reality. Back in 2014, the talks of a joint album started with DJ Skee, who took to his radio program) to reveal the couple had been secretly recording an album. He even made mention of the project arriving exclusively on Tidal. Instead, in 2016, Beyoncé released Lemonade, a soul-barring conceptual project on womanhood and self-empowerment. In 2017, JAY-Z released 4:44, a diamond-sharp revelational opus.
After the latter release, JAY sat with The New York Times and noted that a collaborative album with Bey began during sessions for Lemonade and 4:44. "We were using our art almost like a therapy session," he said during the sit-down . "And we started making music together." He said that, because Beyoncé's Lemonade started to take shape, the album came out first "as opposed to the joint album that we were working on." He also added, "We still have a lot of that music."
The Everything Is Love cover is believed to have been shot during the "Apeshit" music video. As a nod to the album title, the couple refrain from taking the spotlight to instead point it at two of Beyoncé's dancers. On the left is So You Think You Can Dance season 10 contestant Jasmine Harper, and the left features Nicholas "$lick" Stewart. The compelling shot finds Harper picking out Stewart's hair with a pick that features a very prominent black fist, all as the famous "Mona Lisa" sits in the background. The shot ultimately paints a picture of black beauty, self-love and elegance. While the coveted Leonardo da Vinci has long been considered a symbol of beauty, this snapshot challenges the concept, adding color and context to JAY's verse from a little song on Watch The Throne. Black, beautiful, and, yes, proud.
"Apeshit" is the first music video to ever be shot in the Louvre
Because this is their first-ever joint album, everything had to match the radius of their combined stratosphere. Where JAY-Z once rapped, "Put some colored girls in the MOMA," the royal couple did more than that and filmed a music video for "Apeshit" right in the cotdamn Louvre in Paris. Directed by Ricky Saiz, the Carters bring Black Excellence into the space, delivering performance art among backdrops like the "Mona Lisa," the "Consecration of Emperor Napoleon and Coronation of Empress Josephine," the Great Sphinx of Tanis, Marie-Guilhelmine Benoist's "Portrait of a Negress," "The Raft of the Medusa," and "Nike von Samothrake," among others. In addition, the Saiz-directed visual also juxtaposes famous portraits in the Louvre with images of black couples in a way similar to the style of photographer Deana Lawson.
Producers and guests
Legendary producer duo Cool & Dre are prominent on three songs ("Summer," "713," and "Black Effect"); Pharrell takes over two ("Apeshit," "Nice") including a guest verse on "Nice"; Boi-1da also lands two ("Friends," "Heard About Us"); TV on the Radio's David Andrew Sitek, Vinylz, Mike Dean, Jahaan Sweet, !llmind, 808-Ray, Melo-X, Nav (yes, the rapper), Sevn Thomas, Derek Dixie, D'Mile, and Beat Butcha fill out the rest of the production spots. As far as guest features go, Quavo and Offset (sorry Takeoff) appear on "Apeshit," while Ty Dolla $ign slides in on "Boss." As mentioned, Pharrell guest stars on "Nice," while Dre (from Cool & Dre) appears on "Salud!" The latter is a bonus cut that doesn't appear on the project. Also worth mentioning, on "713," Hov and King Bey interpolate Dr. Dre's "Still D.R.E.," a record that Jay famously ghostwrote, on the hook. Perfect way to slice the sampling costs.
Those Spotify, NFL, and subliminal lines
On "Apeshit," Jay confirms the early rumor that he was asked to perform at the Super Bowl, revealed he declined and would much rather headline those very NFL stadiums with his wife. "I said no to the Super Bowl," he asserts, before adding, "You need me, I don't need you / Every night we in the end zone, tell the NFL we in stadiums too." If you're reading this, tickets to On the Run II, the Carters' stadium tour is on sale now. Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled program.
When it comes to Spotify, King Bey makes her feelings clear and to the point on "Nice." As you know, in the past, both Jay and Bey have held their respective releases from appearing on other platforms in favor of Tidal. So on the said track, Bey makes it known that she has no plans to budge. "If I gave two fucks about streaming numbers, would have put Lemonade up on Spotify," she commands, followed by a convenient: "Fuck you, fuck you, you're cool, fuck you, I'm out." The topic of streaming is also covered on "Boss," where Hov points at a few unnamed artists who passed up entrepreneur opportunities at Tidal to go be an employee for the competition (Apple Music). The verse that has everyone talking goes as follows:
"No cap, false, nigga, you not a boss, you got a boss / Niggas getting jerked, that shit hurts, I take it personally / Niggas rather work for the man than to work with me / Just so they can pretend they on my level, that shit is irkin' to me / Pride always goeth before the fall, almost certainly It's disturbing what I gross (what I gross!) / Survey says you not even close (not even close) / Everybody's bosses, to the time that pay for the office / To them invoices, separate the men from the boys, over here / We measure success by how many people successful next to you / Here we say you broke if everybody gets broke except for you, Boss!"
"I ain't going to nobody nothing when me and my wife beefing / I don't care if the house on fire, I'm dying, nigga, I ain't leaving / Ty-Ty take care of my kids, after he done grieving If y'all don't understand that, we ain't meant to be friends" — "FRIENDS"
"Lord knows it takes hella patience / When your name is a verb and these comments absurd / And they swear they know you better than you know yourself" — "SALUD!"
"To them invoices, separate the men from the boys / Over here we measure success by how many people successful next to you... My great-great-grandchildren already rich, that's a lot of brown children on your Forbes list" — "BOSS"
"Tight circle, no squares I'm geometrically opposed to you / Y'all like to try angles, yall like to troll, do you? / Y'all talk around hoes, do you? Y'all don't follow codes, do you?" — "FRIENDS"
"Tell the Grammys fuck that 0 for 8 shit/Have you ever seen a crowd goin' apes**t?" — "APESHIT"
"To all the good girls that love hustlers / To the mothers that put up with us / To all the babies that suffered 'cause us / We only know love because of ya / America is a motherfucka to us, lock us up, shoot us / Shoot our self-esteem down, we don't deserve true love / Black queen, you rescued us, you rescued us, rescued us" — "713"
"Hovah-Beysus, watch the throne" — "LOVEHAPPY"
Beyoncé's growth over the last 15 years is impeccable! She proved once AGAIN her discography is DIVERSE & UNPARALLELED and she hasn't left the throne! #EverythingIsLove out now!https://t.co/Zhkd9Sa6fk pic.twitter.com/9MIE0yioDt— nisha (@KingBeyTea) June 17, 2018