It’s been six years since Beyoncé released Lemonade, an album that was close to perfection in almost everything that has to do with a record. And even in what is not. I
n this time, the one from Houston has released another album together with her husband, Jay Z, the soundtrack of a new version of The Lion King, centered on Africanism, and a live feature film, Homecoming, that served as a reminder more than how magnificent the ex-Destiny’s Child live shows are, as a message to emphasize her perfectionist and entrepreneurial character, her work ethic, the character she wants to project.
But, although it seems sometimes hard to believe, some things happen in the world that have nothing to do with Beyoncé. And one of the most relevant has been a pandemic, which, of course, the diva took advantage of to find herself, modulate her voice and work piecemeal without the distractions that are supposed to be the most relevant musical figure of this century.
In that period of Stakhanovism, the author of Crazy In Love has created three albums that are going to be presented as three acts. East Renaissance is the first, and it is not known whether by coincidence or because of late capitalism, it coincides in its celebration of dance music with two other references released in recent months by Drake and Charli XCX.
Renaissance plays a trick inherent in all great music divas: doing things that have already been done, but that she hasn’t done yet. Almost everything in these 16 tracks comes from the past, but aspires to sound new because in that past there was no Beyoncé, or at least, Beyoncé had not noticed all this.
It sounds like a premise armed with pride, but it is what it is, and since Beyoncé is also what it is, the result is more than satisfactory, something that, honestly, could not be foreseen after listening Break My Soul, the advance single of this album, an exercise in nineties with diva who suffered from lack of potassium.
Fortunately, that cut is one of the few moments of laziness that the album contains, which works almost like a DJ session, with hardly any silence between songs and with transitions that make, despite the stylistic diversity, the feeling that one is before a whole in which almost everything has been put.
Down the drive they parade from Grace Jones (Move) to Nile Rodgers (Cuff It), passing by A.G. Cook (All Up In Your Mind) or Beam (Energy). There are winks, loans, tributes or reviews of almost everything that has been shaken on a dance floor at some point in the last 40 years.
Kelis, Right Said Fred, James Brown, Donna Summer, Skrillex, almost everyone that comes to mind if you review the universe of clubbing since it was made in poorly ventilated basements until it arrived in Las Vegas.
Beyond the redundancy of retracing once again the steps of the I Feel Love of Donna Summer, or of testing the listener’s capacity for postmodern irony by introducing the phrasing of the I’m Too Sexy by Right Said Fred—this happens in Alien Superstar, a cut that until that moment seemed invincible—, the truth is that wonders like Cozy, Energy, Thique o Pure/Honey they carry on their shoulders the weight of the disk, which is a lot.
The diva has not only decided to review dance music — emphasizing its black origins and the role of the LGTBI community in its development — but has opted to give more presence to Beyoncé the rapper, who appears in more than one cut to rescue of the possible fall in the pastiche with so much recreation, so much homage and so much salad of references.
In Renaissance everything happens and almost everything is fine. For some it will be the memory of what the world was like before Beyoncé. For others, the discovery that there was a world before Beyoncé.