Posted: 08 Aug 2019 06:55 AM PDT
Please read this following “news” “item” and take it with a heaping serving of your finest Himalayan pink sea salt: Beyoncé put some nice photos of herself on Instagram and now the Beyhive thinks she’s dropping hints about being pregnant??
My source for this very dubious news is the Daily Mail, so again, use caution; it is a slow summer, so we are making lemonade out of some stale-ass lemons that needed to be used up. Here’s a photo of Beyonce in a very nice outfit with some sunglasses that I would like for myself:
If you choose to delve into the comments, you’ll see that some people are speculating that the way the dress is draped in the front is “intentional” and meant to convey to her fans that she’s expecting a fourth child. Something about the stomach? It’s obscured by the wrap dress, maybe? It’s… protruding? I could not parse this further, even if I wanted to, but Beyoncé is probably not giving us a hint about whether or not she’s pregnant. Or maybe she is, and this all-lilac ensemble is meant to convey that there is new life afoot. Or maybe she just wanted to put on a dress and make a photo!? Thinking about this any further will cause my brain to leak slowly out of my ears until I expire, so I have chosen, for my sake, and the sake of my loved ones, to stop. Thank you. [Daily Mail]
It is still up for debate whether or not B-list YouTubers like Brooke Houts are celebrities, but August continues at its glacial pace and the gossip coffers run dry. That’s why we are here, where we are, today: the aforementioned Houts is now being investigated by the LAPD for alleged animal abuse after a video of her spitting and hitting her Doberman was “accidentally” uploaded to YouTube.
Allegedly the clip was a “mistake”—some uncut footage of an “animal prank” video that eventually made it to YouTube. I will not post the video of the actual abuse, but I’m sure if you try hard enough on the Google, you can find it! Instead, here’s People‘s description:
In the clip, which was shared on her channel on Tuesday and has sparked an investigation by the Los Angeles Police Department, Houts tells her subscribers that she’s trying to prank her pooch — a Doberman named Sphinx.
When the dog excitedly jumps into the frame, Houts grows visibly angry and reprimands Sphinx by slapping him on the head.
She continues to berate the dog in the clip by yelling, “Stop!” and shoves him to the ground. She then appears to spit on him.
More footage of the incident shows Houts pushing Sphinx and shouting, “Lay down!”
I’m not sure what an “animal prank” video consists of, nor do I care to find out, but the attention economy has driven us to this very horrific place. Honestly, if someone can just find the freakin’ plug on the goddamn internet and PULL IT, that would be great! Thanks! [People]
In nicer news:
Hot girl summer continues apace and Megan Thee Stallion‘s knees remain aspirational.
- Pig Pen and Bella Thorne are back at it! [Just Jared Jr]
- Love a juicy non-BCC-email situation that exposes the email addresses of Margot Robbie, Mindy Kaling, Hailee Steinfeld, and Adrien Brody!! [Page Six]
- Krysten Ritter “secretly” had a baby. [Hollywood Life]
- Yeah, it sucks to drop your credit card in the toilet, but when Karlie Kloss does it, it’s news, baby!! [E! News]
- Please STOP comparing Hannah Brown to Gigi Hadid, she is sick and tired of it. [E! News]
Posted: 14 Aug 2019 09:24 AM PDT
A fascinating thing about rap music: It may be the only form of music where personality and digital ephemera matter at least as much as music itself. Within rap music, hit songs make a difference, of course. So do classic albums. But they aren’t the only things that matter. Transcendent rap moments can come in all sorts of different forms: a guest verse, a podcast argument, a five-second video that goes viral on Twitter. K-pop works a bit like this, too; fans understand that videos and hairstyles are crucial parts of the entire musical package. But in K-pop, we get all of that top-down, with these huge entertainment companies decreeing exactly what we’ll see. In rap music, it’s just a constant chaotic churn, and nobody has any idea what will catch on and what won’t. That neverending bedlam can be a beautiful thing. Case in point: One of the most vital artistic artifacts of rap’s 2019 isn’t an album or a song. It’s a YouTube series, a goofy set of amateur videos of a tall white guy hunched over a computer, giggling over whatever someone just said.
The Cave is the brainchild of Kenny Beats, the Connecticut-born beatmaker who might be the most vital producer in all of rap music right now. Kenny has had a strange career path. When he was still in college, studying guitar and music industry at Boston’s Berklee College Of Music, he was making tracks for people like Schoolboy Q and Smoke DZA. (He got his foot in the door by selling weed to Ab-Soul, which seems like a pretty smart way to get someone’s ear. Those music industry classes paid off.) But rather than advancing his rap-production career, Kenny instead became half of LOUDPVCK, an EDM duo. This, it turned out, was a growth market.
Within a few months, LOUDPVCK were playing enormous festivals, making big money. But Kenny wasn’t satisfied. LOUDPVCK broke up at the end of 2017, and Kenny immediately went into rap-production overdrive, forming close partnerships with a few key artists. He put out full collaborative projects with people like Key!, Rico Nasty, Zack Fox, and ALLBLACK, and he worked closely with others like Vince Staples, J.I.D, and Freddie Gibbs. He didn’t have a signature sound, though there’s a hyper-energetic blat to many of his beats, which he acknowledges was a byproduct of the years he spent learning what would move festival-EDM crowds. But whatever sound he was working with, his tracks had an effect. Almost instantly, you could hear the drop at the beginning of a Kenny Beats track — usually Key! grunting “whoa, Kenny!,” sometimes Rico Nasty trilling “Kennyyyyyyy!” — and know that you were about to have a good time.
Right now, Kenny Beats is on an unbelievable hot streak, though you wouldn’t know it to look at the charts. Kenny Beats doesn’t make hits, exactly. Unless I’m forgetting something, the only Kenny Beats-produced track that’s charted on the Billboard Hot 100 is Ski Mask The Slump God’s non-single “Foot Fungus,” which peaked at #81. Kenny has done some work with big artists, producing a couple of tracks on A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie’s quietly huge Hoodie SZN album and co-producing Ed Sheeran’s Stormzy collab “Take Me Back To London” with fellow EDM vet Skrillex and somebody named Fred. But Kenny has also failed to get a few prominent placements. He is not, for instance, on the J. Cole-spearheaded Dreamville crew album Revenge Of The Dreamers III, even though he was there for the sessions. And in the most recent episode of The Cave, he grouses about not getting any of his tracks onto Beyoncé’s Lion King tie-in compilation The Gift.
But Kenny does have The Cave. And one of the great things about The Cave is that, watching it, you get little shreds of information, like Kenny being mad about not being on the Lion King album. The concept of The Cave is simple enough. On each of the biweekly episodes, Kenny welcomes another rapper into his not-that-big studio. He makes a new beat based on whatever arcane thing the rapper wants. He spends a few minutes slapping the beat together — the camera even lets you see his desktop display — and then the rapper goes in and freestyles something. The best part of these videos usually isn’t the music, though the music is often great. It’s in the interaction — the push-and-pull that can lead to a great rapper/producer team-up. Kenny generally doesn’t send his collaborators pre-made beats over email; he likes to be in the room with them, to tailor the beat to what they want. The Cave lets us see at least some version of this process taking shape.
Now, full disclosure: I am a tall white rap nerd who spends all day hunched over a computer, who works constantly, and who has never had a non-awkward interaction with a rapper in his entire life. Kenny Beats is a tall white rap nerd who spends all day hunched over his computer and who works constantly, and in The Cave, I get to see how his awkward interactions with rappers lead to actual rap music. That’s magical, and that’s aspirational. If you’re not like me, then maybe you won’t feel the same way about it. But it’s still overwhelmingly entertaining to watch Kenny attempt to turn his collaborators’ specifications into actual music.
The requests might be the best part of the show. Doja Cat: “Bubbly noises and fucking cute shit, like music-box type shit… Hard, but cute, like some ironic shit — bells and shit like that.” Vince Staples: “I want something toxic. I want some 808s. 808s — no heartbreak at all. Black on everything crime. Even animals.” Most perfectly, Zack Fox: “I want a beat that sound like Runescape mixed with Jodeci mixed with almond milk mixed with domestic violence. Put a domestic violence filter on it. Make me a pro-lifer beat. Make me a Bernie bro beat. Make me a post-9/11, pre-death of Whitney Houston-style beat. Make me a beat that Whitney Houston would get on right now, from the grave.”
That Zack Fox episode is a fucking masterpiece — the best seven minutes and 31 second of television I’ve seen all year. Almost all of the freestyles in The Cave have made for exciting music. The Zack Fox episode is something else. Fox, a stand-up comic who also raps, spends the entire episode saying absurd, hilarious shit, and then, once Kenny has made a beat that somehow meets his requirements, he gets into the booth and raps absurd, hilarious shit. The minute-and-a-half freestyle became a song, the viral hit “Jesus Is The One (I Got Depression).”
“Jesus Is The One (I Got Depression)” is a sub-two-minute song that consists of nothing but ridiculous, quotable lines: “If you ain’t a Christian, I’ma stab you in the face,” “Armpits musty, Reeboks dusty / My show got cancelled cuz white folks don’t trust me,” “I take the condom off and drunk my nut, it’s delicious / I wanna get a whip and crash it into white-owned businesses.” Zack himself hates the song. In interviews, Zack and Kenny talk about the track as a barometer, a symbol of how utterly fucked the music business is when something so sloppy and stupid can become so popular: “Is it that people want something this meaningless, or is it that everything is already so meaningless that this fits right in?” They’re not wrong, exactly, but the song is also great. Maybe it’s great because of how meaningless is.
Kenny has said that The Cave itself is a sort of accidental success. Supposedly, he had no interest in making a YouTube show, but friends kept telling him that there should be a camera in the room for all these hijinks. So he put a camera in the room, and he captured all these hijinks. The frequently-hysterical result is also a rare glimpse of real-time creativity in action, a view of what it looks like when things go right in rap music. In the middle of the most recent episode, Kenny causally mentions that it’s the “season finale.” He hasn’t yet said whether he’ll make more. I hope he does. But whether or not that happens, I’ve already gotten more out of The Cave than I have from just about any album, movie, or TV show of 2019. Rap is funny like that.
1. Sauce Walka – “New Sauce City”
At the end of Westside Gunn’s recent track “Lakers Vs. Rockets,” we got a brief taste of what might happen if Houston bellower Sauce Walka started rapping on hazy East Coast underground beats. And it was good. Now, on the new album New Sauce City, just a couple of weeks later, we get half an hour of Sauce Walka rapping on nothing but hazy East Coast underground beats. And it’s great. I may have more to say about New Sauce City in the near future, but consider this track an appetizer.
2. Dee Watkins – “Hell Raiser”
Ridiculously catchy and energetic music from a teenage Florida phenom. That jumpy little digital bass gives me a dizzy serotonin hit everytime.
3. Kasher Quon – “Back In Motion” (Feat. Teejayx6 & 10kkevv)
Two minutes of frantic, surreal steal-your-money talk from three of Detroit’s finest young credit-card-scammer rappers. Best line: “Almost had to kill one of my fans, he wouldn’t stop starin’ / ‘Bitch you better get your kid’ is what I told the parent.” Or maybe: “I just dropped a check, went to sleep, and woke up with your savings.” Or probably: “I just stole a bomb from the army and blew up the bank.”
4. Thouxanbanfauni – “Dirt Devil”
This beat sounds like a first-generation Nintendo Entertainment System joined a warehouse drone band. I love rap music.
5. Clever – “Money To The Light”
Ever since I first heard him on NLE Choppa’s “Stick By My Side,” I have been fascinated with Clever, a 34-year-old white hesher from Alabama who sings like he’s in a radio-ready mid-’00s angst-rock band and who somehow sounds really, really good on rap beats. The world is an incredible place. People are living lives that we’ll just never even begin to understand.
IT WAS ALL GOOD JUST A WEEK AGO
me at the function pretending i know all of the words to “dreams and nightmares” pic.twitter.com/6WIvOBPkQm
— shayla (@shaylasp_) August 3, 2019
Posted: 13 Aug 2019 05:54 AM PDT
The US star’s new diet plan, called 22 Days Vegan Nutrition Plan, has been criticised by nutrition professionals as a potentially “dangerous” diet that could lead to “nutritional deficiencies”.
The singer’s plan was posted on her YouTube channel. The crash diet that promises weight loss in 22 days was created by her personal trainer, Marco Borges, described as Beyoncé’s friend, trainer, exercise physiologist and New York Times Best Selling author.
The plant-based diet cuts out carbohydrates, sugar, fish, meat and alcohol. However, dietitians warned it cuts out essential nutrients and has too few calories. Beyonce’s diet contains just 1,400 calories a day, well under the 2,000-a-day the NHS recommends women consume.
A spokesperson from the British Nutrition Foundation told FoodNavigator: “When it comes to weight loss, different approaches suit different people but fad diets that restrict whole food groups or require you to cut out a lot of foods from the diet risk low intakes of essential nutrients. When losing weight, it’s even more important to eat a balanced diet so that you can get all the nutrients you need from fewer calories. While celebrities may have an entourage of staff to monitor their health, this isn’t the case for most people who may try these diets.”
Charlotte Stirling-Reed, a UK-based registered nutrition tweeted: “I’m absolutely not against plant-based eating, but I think what she’s suggesting is unhelpful, unsustainable for many and potentially quite dangerous!”
Rebecca McManamon, a consultant dietitian and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, told FoodNavigator: “Any kind of diet that eliminates large groups of foods needs careful planning to make sure nutrients aren’t lacking in the diet. For example, most of us in the UK don’t consume enough oily fish so to eliminate would make it difficult to reach required intakes of Omega 3 Fats.
“Likewise, eliminating dairy makes it hard to meet calcium and Iodine intakes, with inadequate Iodine in the UK being linked to negative impacts on brain development in pregnancy, and many women not planning pregnancies, it highlights the danger of ‘celebrity’ diets, particularly targeting young women.”
The charity BEAT estimates around 1.25 million people in the UK have an eating disorder and restrictive diets can promote disordered eating behaviours.
“Beyoncé is quoted as saying she is hungry, which is not a healthy eating behaviour if caused by the restrictive nature of the diet,” added McManamon.
“For the food industry it is really important to maintain integrity by ensuring that they are not promoting restricted diets. It is crucial such ‘fad ‘diets are not portrayed as ‘healthy’ diet advice.
“Many registered dietitians specialise in working with the industry to ensure evidence based messages are conveyed, and any claims around health are in line with the European legislation.”
Earlier this year, Britain’s top doctor said that social media companies should ban “damaging” celebrity-backed diets, which have a negative impact on young people’s health.
Prof Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said: “If a product sounds like it is too good to be true, then it probably is. The risks of quick-fix weight loss outweigh the benefits, and advertising these products without a health warning is damaging. Highly influential celebrities are letting down the very people who look up to them, by peddling products which are at best ineffective and at worst harmful. Social media companies have a duty to stamp out the practice of individuals and companies using their platform to target young people with products known to risk ill health.”
Posted: 09 Aug 2019 02:03 PM PDT
Posted: 14 Aug 2019 02:16 AM PDT
Harry Styles turns down the Little Mermaid
Disney are going to have to keep looking for their Prince Eric for the Little Mermaid remake because Harry Styles wants no part in it.
A source tells E! News that Harry has, ‘respectfully declined the offer.’
It appears casting for the live action remake of the Little Mermaid is in full swing.
They’ve already confirmed that Halle Bailey will play Ariel in the new version.
And it’s reported that Melissa McCarthy is in line to play her evil Aunt Ursula.
The rumours regarding Harry Styles taking over as Prince Eric however, are false.
A source tells E!, ‘While [Harry] is a fan of the project he has respectfully declined the offer.’
Meanwhile, Chrissy Teigen says she’s, ‘thirsty to be in the little mermaid,’ and her fans are all for it.
just putting it out there that I am thirsty to be in the little mermaid, will pay
— christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) August 13, 2019
Get to know Ariel
Halle rubs shoulders with some of the biggest names in the music industry, including Queen Bey herself.
She and her sister Chloe are both amazing singers and have their own R&B group called Chloe x Halle.
Back in 2003 they uploaded a cover of Beyonce’s Pretty Hurts to YouTube and it amassed over 16 million views.
It caught Beyonce’s attention which resulted in a record deal for the sisters.
The pair went on to release their first studio album in 2018 titled The Kids Are Alright.
It was nominated for ‘Best Urban Contemporary Album’ at the 2019 Grammy Awards.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by chloe x halle (@chloexhalle) on Jun 21, 2019 at 5:57pm PDT
They were later given the opportunity to open for Beyoncé on her US tour.
The duo even played support for the icon at her Croke Park gig in Dublin three years ago.
View this post on Instagram
A post 10:16pm PST
The live action remake of The Little Mermaid will begin production in April 2020.
Posted: 14 Aug 2019 07:41 AM PDT
Superstar Nigeria-born artist and music executive Mr Eazi is investing in the next generation of African talent through emPawa Africa, an incubator program for emerging artists.
Following a successful launch earlier this year, emPawa Africa’s accelerator program reopens to entries on Friday, August 15.
In this second phase of the program, 30 African artists will be selected to receive a non-repayable grant to fund their first professional music video, as well as mentorship, marketing services and other support.
Artists from the African Diaspora are also encouraged to apply for the program.
The #emPawa30 will include 10 artists from Nigeria; 10 artists from other countries on the African continent; and five UK-based African artists, with the remaining five spots open to African-born artists in countries around the world, including the US and Canada.
YouTube Music is partnering with emPawa Africa to provide support for the 10 Nigerian artists in the #emPawa30 cohort, as announced by YouTube’s Global Head of Music, Lyor Cohen announced during a fireside chat with Mr Eazi at last month’s Google for Nigeria Week.
To be considered, entrants are asked to upload a short video clip (up to 1 minute in length) to Instagram of themselves performing an original song, cover or freestyle, with the hashtag #emPawa30.
“emPawa is an initiative I created with one simple mission: Helping new artists reach their full potential musically by equipping them with the knowledge and funding to do so.”
The program will close to submissions on September 15, after which each entry will each be evaluated by Mr Eazi and his music-industry colleagues. The new cohort of 30 artists will be announced on September. 30.
Once selected, each #emPawa30 artist will be assigned an individual mentor and video director, with whom they will work directly throughout the seven-month mentorship program.
Mentors will include Diplo, afrobeats producers E. Kelly, Juls and GuiltyBeatz, South African rapper Kwesta, Ghanaian rapper Sarkodie, Tanzanian music superstar Diamond Platnumz, afrobeats veteran DJ Neptune and executives from the African music industry, along with Mr Eazi.
The videos will be filmed in October and rolled out across six weeks starting November 1.
Mr Eazi’s music has generated more than 900 million streams worldwide, including over 226 million plays on YouTube.
The afropop star has collaborated with the likes of Beyoncé (Don’t Jealous Me and Keys to the City), J Balvin x Bad Bunny (Como Un Bebe) and Major Lazer (Tied Up), as well as having performed at the likes of Coachella and Wireless.
“EmPawa is an initiative I created with one simple mission: Helping new artists reach their full potential musically by equipping them with the knowledge and funding to do so,” said Mr Eazi.
“It’s something I wish someone had created when I first started making music. Sometimes, all it takes is that one person to believe in you.”Music Business Worldwide
Posted: 13 Feb 2019 12:00 AM PST
The links reveal some of the most romantic tunes of all time, as well as some of the most notorious breakup ballads.
Consumers are spending near record amounts on Valentine’s Day. In the U.S., total spending is expected to reach $19.6 billion this year, up from $18.2 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights & Analytics, and the music industry gets a slice of the pie. Leave aside jewelry, chocolates and flowers – every year, love anthems spike on the charts and YouTube on February 14.
Boyz II Men’s hit “I’ll Make Love To You” saw a 93.83% rise on V-Day in 2018 compared to its daily average for that year. It was followed by Celine Dion‘s “Because You Loved Me,” with a 76.41% increase, Elton John‘s “Can You Feel The Love Tonight,” up 72.38% and Shania Twain’s “You’re Still The One,” up 66.31%. Also profiting from Valentine’s Day: Bruno Mars, with “Just the Way You Are,” up 57.37%; Stevie Wonder, with “Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I’m Yours),” up 51.26%; Richard Marx, with “Right Here Waiting,” 44.85%; and Whitney Houston with “I Will Always Love You,” up 43.66%.
Also surging for the last three years: Savage Garden, “Truly Madly Deeply” (up 38.68% last year); Enrique Iglesias, “Hero” (up 32.14%); Elvis Presley, “Can’t Help Falling In Love” (up 31.12%); Usher, “Nice & Slow” (up 30.44%); Bryan Adams, “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” (up 30.21%); K-Ci & JoJo, “All My Life,” up 29.04% and John Legend, “All of Me” (up 23.57%).
The “break-up anthems” list on YouTube is based on songs most frequently added to playlists created over the last year with the words “breakup,” “break-up” or “break up.” This list is topped with Beyoncé’s “Irreplaceable” and also includes Rihanna‘s “Take A Bow,” Sam Smith‘s “Too Good At Goodbyes” and A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera, “Say Something.”
The rest of the break-up list:
Post Malone – “I Fall Apart”
Passenger – “Let Her Go”
Juice WRLD – “Lucid Dreams”
Halsey – “Without Me”
Ariana Grande – “thank u, next”
Gnash (feat. Olivia O’Brien) – “i hate u, i love u”
Kelly Clarkson – “Since U Been Gone”
Taylor Swift – “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”
Gotye (feat. Kimbra) – “Somebody That I Used To Know”
Beyoncé – “Best Thing I Never Had”
Little Mix – “Shout Out to My Ex”
Adele – “Someone Like You”
Carrie Underwood – “Before He Cheats”
Rascal Flatts – “What Hurts The Most”
Eminem (feat. Rihanna) – “Love The Way You Lie”
Queen Naija – “Medicine”
Posted: 04 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT
We live in a time where almost every new musical prodigy has formed an identity on YouTube long before they break through to mainstream Hollywood. Halle Bailey, the new face of Disney’s Little Mermaid, is a perfect example.
Disney announced on Wednesday that Bailey, currently 19-years-old, would play Princess Ariel in the company’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. She began making a name for herself as an actress on ABC’s Grownish, a spinoff of its popular series, Blackish that premiered in 2018, but she developed an even bigger fanbase far before that on YouTube. Halle, alongside her older sister Chloe, have amassed more than one million subscribers on YouTube thanks to their astonishing covers of songs from artists like Rihanna, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé since launching the channel in 2006.
Their covers became so popular that they attracted the attention of Beyoncé herself. She signed both women to her label after discovering their videos, and they’re often described as Queen Bey’s prodigies. There’s an entire catalogue of videos on YouTube showcasing Halle’s talents. For Disney aficionados, these videos provide a perfect way of getting to know Ariel before the movie comes out.
Here are a couple of Halle (and Chloe’s) best covers.
“Diamonds” by Rihanna
Halle and Chloe’s cover of “Diamonds” is a unique, soulful take on Rihanna’s pop tune from 2012. Halle was around 12-years-old when this was recorded. (Disclaimer: This is also my personal favorite.)
“Best Thing I Never Had” by Beyoncé
Halle is 11 years old in this video, and it’s a testament to how powerful her voice was even as a kid.
“Unforgettable” by Nat King Cole
A rarer video of Halle on YouTube that stars just her. The rendition of Nat King Cole’s classic soul track is truly stunning.
There are plenty more videos of Halle and Chloe singing on YouTube, including videos of them performing the national anthem at award shows and original music videos. While the entire world will be introduced to Halle on the big screen in just a couple of years time, her career on YouTube means people can fall in love with her talents now.
The Little Mermaid, which is being directed by Rob Marshall, does not have a release date yet.
Posted: 18 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT
Trained eyes and ears recognize that Beyoncé has been Black all 37 years she’s been alive. As absurd as it may sound to even consider, this fact apparently did not become 100% clear to everyone until 2016.
Although Beyoncé was nearly two decades into a career defined by massive success and sustained hyper-relevance by that point, it took a hat trick of brazen artistic statements to underline this reality for all: the “Formation” video, submerged cop car and all, the pro-Black imagery in her halftime performance at Super Bowl XL, and the marked Black feminism of Lemonade and its visual treatment. The aim of these decisions was to use her influence to elevate Black people and culture at a time when she felt both could use vociferous support.
Beyoncé’s quest continued last year at Coachella. The performance was historic not only because she, to Coachella’s gross oversight, became the first Black woman to headline the festival, but because she used the huge figurative and literal stage to once again exalt Black culture — chiefly, that of historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). Her Netflix documentary Homecoming, named for an annual collegiate tradition that, while not exclusive to HBCUs, holds deeper relevance on their campuses within popular culture at large, is another grand-stage ode to the environment, which left a lasting impact without her ever attending.
Homecoming‘s second performance segment is followed by a montage of bands performing at various Southern HBCUs: Southern University, Jackson State University, Alabama A&M University, Grambling State University, Florida A&M University, North Carolina A&T University, Hampton University, Alabama State University. At the beginning of the film, Beyoncé explains that she grew up in close proximity to Houston’s Prairie View A&M University. She was infatuated with HBCU band culture and sharpened her own budding entertainer skills on Texas Southern University’s campus. She reveals that she wanted to attend an HBCU, just as her father, a Fisk University alum, did. Throughout Homecoming, Beyoncé is seen wearing a Howard University crewneck.
The entertainment industry may have been her formal education, but Homecoming makes Beyoncé’s influences explicitly clear. Featuring them prominently in the film and the event it highlights is another case of the greatest entertainer of her generation making the marginalized feel seen. “When I decided to do Coachella, instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,” she says through voice-over.
The unexpected-yet-much appreciated showcase placed Beyoncé eye-to-eye with everyone holding similar experiences and influences — as well as with outsiders who’d never bothered to educate themselves about the culture before. Homecoming: The Live Album, released the same day as the film, is an unexpected gift containing another unexpected gift: a cover of Maze & Frankie Beverly‘s sublime “Before I Let Go.” Despite the song’s ubiquity within Black culture for nearly 40 years, it’s a deep cultural reference; if you know, you know. Beyoncé’s interpretation of the song, as an element of Homecoming’s multi-platform experience, is part of her ongoing exaltation of Black culture and how it’s inspired her. It’s another lowering of the partition separating the public from someone long charged with being inaccessible.
The cultural associations with Maze & Frankie Beverly’s “Before I Let Go” are pretty uniform at this point. Cookouts. Weddings. Parties. It’s synonymous with celebration in the music canon. The irony is that the song, a studio track included on the San Francisco-based band’s 1981 album Live in New Orleans, is about love’s unfulfilled potential. “We were so close,” Beverly sings. “Where did we go wrong?” he wonders. “I gotta make sure I’m right, before I let go,” he asserts. “I was seeing some lady but I was just with someone [else] and we broke up,” Beverly told Essence in 2017. “And it got kind of hard because I wasn’t with the woman I wanted to be with, and I couldn’t stay with the one I was with.”
The song’s musicality — the guitar solos, the light tambourine, the endearing register of Beverly’s voice, the overall upbeat shuffle — belies its bittersweet inspiration, and makes it what it is. Though born from joy and pain, it’s the former people connect with. It’s had a place in HBCU culture for years, from band competitions to the most random on-campus parties. It’s supplanted Marcia Griffiths’ “Electric Boogie” as the official soundtrack to the Electric Slide. It’s become a call to action. And because “Before I Let Go” gained traction in distinct spaces, it’s become part of a cultural exchange that’s spanned generations, and helped it blossom into something Beverly never could’ve imagined.
“I had no idea that it was gonna be what it turned out to be,” he told Essence during the same 2017 interview. “It just shocked me. I mean to even hear you say it’s like the Black folks national anthem, that’s even more than I can wrap my head around.”
It’s extremely hyperbolic to call “Before I Let Go” the “Black National Anthem” — especially when Beyoncé’s cover of the actual Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” is also included in Homecoming. However, the song taps into a sense of tradition that resonates deeper if you’ve been in the aforementioned spaces. That familiarity is what makes “Before I Let Go” such a welcome inclusion in Homecoming.
Beyoncé was born the same year “Before I Let Go” was released. It has been in the world as long as she has, and clearly had the same profound impact on her as it has many others who hold it in high regard. For all her unprecedented accomplishments, Beyoncé’s tried to make clear that she started out as that Southern girl at those cookouts. At those weddings. At Battle of the Bands. Covering “Before I Let Go” is yet another homage to what made her who and what she is, and the little tweaks made throughout — like her half-rapped, half-sung verse, the marching band horns, or the “Lose My Breath”-esque drums in the background — help to personalize the rendition. The inclusion of Memphis producer Tay Keith’s tag line immediately modernizes the song, while the New Orleans bounce beat that acts as the backbone is a nod to the genre and her mother’s Louisiana roots.
By the time “Before I Let Go” shifts into a mid-song interpolation of Cameo’s 1986 pop-funk classic “Candy,” it’s successfully dovetailed into a present-day twist on not one, but two line-dancing records that have effectively replaced the Electric Slide’s original musical companion. For anyone who’s seen Malcolm D. Lee’s 1999 rom-com The Best Man, or simply attended a Black wedding in the past 30 years, this strikes an unmistakable chord. It’s Beyoncé’s way of telling her grassroots audience that she’s had parallel experiences, without saying it explicitly.
The reality of “Before I Let Go” is that it’s retrospective; it’s Frankie Beverly’s fond memories of what was. Through the years, it’s evolved into a different type of farewell: the song you play just before the celebration’s over. To that effect, Beyoncé’s placement of it at the end of Homecoming the album and over the credits of the film stay true to history. Whether it’s the DJ’s last record or a bonus track, “Before I Let Go” is a parting thought — one last offering before saying goodbye.
Homecoming may not bring the world any closer to truly knowing Beyoncé, but that type of access is a privilege reserved for her inner circle. She has, however, done an effective job of trying to communicate who she is, at the core, even if only through the symbolism of a glorified probate (in the absolute best way possible) or years worth of Homecoming celebrations she never got to experience because she’s been a celebrity since the age of 16. Her take on “Before I Let Go” has elevated a classic, exposing it to a new audience much like she did with HBCU culture — a bedrock of Black culture — at Coachella last year. And for those of us in the know, it’s another instance of Beyoncé saying she sees us, even from her perch at the top.