Everyone knows Beyoncé is one of the best performers of our generation, but most fans know her as a singer. Over the years, though, Queen B has shown that she can more than hold her own as a rapper, too. If you somehow missed her bars on songs like “Apeshit” or “Diva,” Beyoncé just gave us another reminder of her skills as an MC on the remix of Megan Thee Stallion’s “Savage,” rapping about Demon Time and OnlyFans accounts. So, now seems like a good time to run through her history behind the mic. Here are 15 times Beyoncé proved herself as a great rapper.
“Savage (Remix)” (2020)
This is easily one of her best displays of mic prowess. She goes in hard out the gate with multiple syllable rhymes, double entendres, and spot-on delivery. Listen as she switches her style after the first few bars to elevate the track.
“Y'all haters corny with that Illuminati mess
Paparazzi, catch my fly and my cocky fresh
I'm so reckless when I rock my Givenchy dress (stylin')
I'm so possessive so I rock his Roc necklaces
My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana
You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bama”
Even though Beyoncé sing-raps most of the verses, this is a rap track through and through. The chorus establishes its rap in both form and content:
“Na-na-na, diva is a female version of a hustla, of a hustla, of a, of a hustla”
Both the choppy chorus and the simple beat are built like “A Milli” by Lil Wayne (also produced by Bangladesh). Although she sings most of the rest of the way through, Beyoncé raps the first two lines to set the tone:
“Stop the track, let me state facts.
I told you, gimme a minute and I’ll be right back.”
“Feeling Myself” (2014)
Nicki Minaj and Beyoncé each appeared on each other’s albums in 2013 and 2014. But, while Beyoncé proves on her own track that she can rap next to Nicki (“It's that Yoncé, your Yoncé / In that lingerie, on that chardonnay / Scoring touchdowns on your runway / I'm Texas forever, like Bun B”) it’s on The Pinkprint that she throws down. And she does it in just two lines:
“Changed the game with that digital drop
Know where you was when that digital popped”
“That digital drop” is a reference to her self-titled album which she dropped online with no prior press or promo. Now that other huge artists like Kendrick Lamar, Wilco, and Drake have started doing no-promo releases, it’s now literally called “Pulling a Beyoncé.”
“Hold Up” (2016)
This is a mostly slow and sultry song. The minimalist beat is sparse, and Beyoncé raps quietly but confidently in the second verse leading into the chorus. Then suddenly, halfway through the bridge, we get a driving upbeat snare, two lines of aggressively delivered wordplay, and (in case it didn’t feel enough like straight-up rap) an airhorn. She raps, “I always keep the top tier, five star, backseat loving in the car/Like make that wood, like make that wood, Holly like a boulevard.” It’s not just that she can rap, she can change up her style to match a beat or take the song in a totally different direction just to capture a feeling or mess with you for a second. But that’s it. Then we’re back to R&B.
“Top Off” (2018)
We’ve already established that B’s verse on this song is fire. She one-ups Jay Z’s Meek Mill line from earlier in the song, name drops a cultural cornerstone from Future’s own locale, and then rhymes “I might roll up” with “non-disclosure” and sticks the landing. In other words, B owns this track.
“Top off the coupe and it look like Freaknik
In the hood, hollerin', "Free Meek"
Two deep, it's just me and JAY
Just posted in them courtside seats
Woo! I'm like "hol' up"
Woo! I might roll up
If they're tryna party with the queen
They gon' have to sign a non-disclosure, ayy”
“Kitty Kat” (2007)
This track is produced by The Neptunes, so it’s not too surprising that when Beyoncé sneaks in a few bars of whispery swagger toward the end of the song, her rap style similar to Pharrell's iconic flow in “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Here she raps:
“Got diamonds on my neck
Got diamonds on my records
Since 16 I was coming down riding Lexus
How you gon neglect this? You is just a hot mess”
This is the first track on Volume 2 of Beyoncé’s 2013 self-titled album, a short collection of bonus tracks released after the surprise blockbuster album. At the end of the track, when the Auto-Tune is turned off, we get this raw rap swagger:
“Sweatin' on my blow out
Sweatin' on my dress
This trick about to go off
Mad 'cause I'm so fresh”
Beyoncé named the album after herself (Beyoncé) but on this song she calls herself Yoncé. She took up the name again when she rapped alongside Nicki Minaj on the “Flawless Remix”. So, maybe before B, Yoncé was her rap name? (Be)yoncé raps most of the way through this song. The highlight is her laid back flow in second verse:
“Drop the bass, mane, the bass get lower
Radio say speed it up I just go slower
High like treble, pumping on them mids
Ya man ain't never seen a booty like this
And why you think ya keep my name rolling off your tongue
Cause when you want a smash, I'll just write another one
I sneezed on the beat and the beat got sicker
Yoncé all on his mouth like liquor”
“Video Phone” (2008)
Songs about technology that seems cutting edge at the time don’t typically hold up well as the tech ages. It’s a shame this song isn’t an exception because, otherwise, it’s great. Beyoncé sings more than raps, but the way she delivers rhymes in the last verse can’t be overlooked. Great rappers can make words rhyme that shouldn’t. And Beyoncé makes it feel easy when she rhymes “them hot ones” with “New Orleans.” Damn.
“You know them G's they be hollerin'
'Specially them hot ones
Brooklyn, Atlanta, Houston to New Orleans
When they see me they be like, "Yo, B, let me call you!"
You breakin' my focus, boy you cute and you ballin'”
“If Looks Could Kill” (2001)
Carmen: A Hip Hopera was a TV-movie musical made for MTV. Unsurprisingly, the lyrical content is corny. But Beyoncé does her best to hold it down and make the sometimes clunky rhymes sound tight. YOU try being sexy while rhyming faucet and porpoise! B (barely) pulls it off:
“Sweetness flowing like a faucet, body bangin' no corset
Brother's wanna toss it but they lost cause my game made ‘em forfeit
Slicker than a porpoise and thicker than a horse's”
“Haunted” is broken into two parts. The first half got its own video, called “Ghost” and that’s where we get an unconventional Beyoncé flow that doesn’t show up anywhere else in her catalogue. Her cadence sounds like Saul Williams, the rapper, actor, and slam poet who has worked with Rick Rubin and Trent Reznor. The song is written by Beyoncé and BOOTS, who has his own connections to alternative hip hop as a consistent collaborator with Run the Jewels. The lyrical highlight is this:
“Cat-calls on cat-walks, man these women getting solemn
I could sing a song for a Solomon or Salamander"