In honor of Juneteenth—a holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves in the United States—Beyoncé surprised fans with her new song “Black Parade” late Friday night. The track, produced by Derek Dixie, is a celebration of Blackness. Beyoncé raps and sings about her hometown, Black culture, and womanhood.
“Black Parade” couldn’t have come at a better time. While people continue to fight against systemic racism, police violence, and general injustice, this track is a reminder to keep looking for ways to be proud of who you are.
“I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle,” she wrote in a statement on Instagram. “Please continue to remember our beauty, strength, and power.”
Here are the biggest takeaways from Beyoncé’s new single “Black Parade.”
In 2020, Beyoncé wants to rap
Is 2020 the year Beyoncé takes over the rap game? She has only released two tracks this year and both of them have featured her signature rap-singing. On “Black Parade,” she comes out the gate rapping with a rhythmic flow. “Ancestors put me on game/Ankh charm on gold chains, with my Oshun energy, oh/Drip all on me, woo, Ankh, or the Dashiki print,” she spits. We’ve seen a similar flow on the “Savage (Remix)” and 2018’s “Apeshit.” It’s worth noting that she does sing on a majority of the record, for the members of the BeyHive who have been pushing back on her new rap phase. But it sounds like everyone should start getting used to hearing more of this flow from Beyoncé as she enters a new chapter in her career.
Beyoncé is unapologetically Black on this track. “Being Black, baby, that’s the reason they always mad/Been past em, I know that’s why they all big mad,” she sings. Elsewhere on the record, she calls for people to “put your fists up in the air, show black love.” Unashamedly embracing and celebrating her Blackness is nothing new, though. Beyoncé’s discography has always been an expression of Black culture, but fans really started to see her step into her own voice and explore the Black experience in more depth on 2016’s critically-acclaimed album, Lemonade. Following her Beychella performance in 2018, she stated, “I have worked very hard to get to the point where I have a true voice, and at this point in my life and career, I have a responsibility to do what’s best for the world and not what’s popular.” It seems like she’s staying the course on this new record.
She takes us to the South (again)
It’s no secret that Beyoncé is proud of her Texan roots. She has always shown love to H-Town in her music, but on “Black Parade,” we hear a lot more of her southern flair. She’s gritty and raw as she raps on the opening verse, “I’m goin’ back to the South/I’m goin’ back, back, back/Where my roots ain’t watered down.” And there’s a certain attitude and energy that she exhibits when tapping into this lane that is irresistible. This is her second release of 2020 that takes fans down South after joining forces with fellow Houston native Megan Thee Stallion for the “Savage (Remix).”
It’s not your typical protest song
A lot of artists have released protest songs that capture the energy of the Black Lives Matter marches and rallies that are happening across the country right now. And “Black Parade” certainly falls in line with the latest music drops. On the track, Bey gets political, singing “Need another march, lemme call Tamika/Need peace and reparation for my people.” “Black Parade” is an empowering anthem that celebrates Black people’s history and culture, but it doesn’t sound like a typical protest song. You’ll probably hear people chanting, “We got rhythm, we got pride,” at the next BLM event, but don’t be surprised if this record comes on at the next summer party, as well.
Proceeds are going to a good cause
“Black Parade” has a powerful message and purpose. Following its release, Beyoncé shared a statement on her website announcing that the proceeds of the single would go to supporting Black businesses. “Happy Juneteenth. Being Black is your activism. Black excellence is a form of protest. Black joy is your right,” the statement reads. “‘Black Parade’ benefits BeyGOOD’s Black Business Impact Fund, administered by the National Urban League, to support Black-owned small businesses in need.” Beneath the statement shows a directory of Black-owned businesses fans can support. Do your part and support here.