Lest You Forget, Beyoncé Is, Was, and Ever Shall Be a Black Artist

To Beyoncé be the glory.

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Complex Original

Image via Complex Original

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You know you that bitch when you cause all this conversation.

No one is as equal parts gracious and commanding while essentially saying “fuck you” as Beyoncé is.

She may no longer communicate the way many would her prefer her to—i.e. interviews—but she is increasingly making sure her voice gets heard. Beyoncé’s new song “Formation” takes numerous shots, each one finding a deserving target. For anyone who thinks there is a secret, evil organization in which Satan and some Scooby Doo-like villains are trying to poison the minds of the masses via secret symbols in videos for songs like “Freakum Dress,” Beyoncé just offered you a sip of shut the hell up. Sip, sip, bitches.

Likewise, for those who engaged in the anti-blackness that questioned Beyoncé’s choice in spouses and the hair texture of her daughter, she couldn’t give any less of a damn. She likes her baby’s Afro and she is perfectly fine with her husband’s Jackson 5 nostrils. Y’all can go fly directly to hell if you don’t like it, and that includes some black folks, too, who are as equally guilty as others for perpetuating the notion that black in every shape, form, and texture is not beautiful.

And then there is the gorgeous, powerful scenery throughout the video.

The biggest pop star of her generation opened her latest video with the drowning of a New Orleans police car. That is two-fold a critique of the treatment of black New Orleanians during Hurricane Katrina and the continued onslaught of state sanctioned violence aimed squarely at black women, men, and children. 

She’s been very consistent with offering the world a very specific strain of blackness: black, Southern, and country.

The shot of that young black boy in a hoodie before a row of cops in SWAT gear with their hands up will stay with me forever. As will that cop car sinking into the water as Beyoncé lays on top of it. For any cop or cop supporter who finds themselves offended by that imagery, imagine what it is like to be black in this country and rightly fear that you could easily be lying in a pool of your own blood from some trigger-happy, hateful police officer protected by a system that devalues black life.

Meanwhile, for those who are offended when Mr. and Mrs. Jay Z/Mr. and Mrs. Beyoncé don’t speak on social and political issues, look what Houston’s finest just did here. She commented on everything. While dancing down. Over a Mike WiLL Made-It production, which by the way, did not include his tag.

Even that tidbit along with the rest of the information proves Beyoncé is powerful and will wield that power however she sees fit.

No one is as important a pop star to me as Beyoncé. Beyoncé is getting her just due for creating what is being hailed as a very pro-black song and video in “Formation,” but the truth about Beyoncé is that she’s always been very black. She’s been very consistent with offering the world a very specific strain of blackness: black, Southern, and country. This strain has not always been as welcomed as others. She makes no apologies for who she is nor should she.

She has not changed her accent. She has not stopped dancing like a majorette. She has never stopped giving nods to the cultural mores, customs, style, and sounds of Texas and Louisiana. 

As I have noted before, this has not always been rewarding for her in terms of how the radio receives her, but she has never bended. She did not pick up a glow stick or chase any other trend. She continued to be her country black self.

This video includes the voices of Big Freedia and the late Messy Mya of YouTube fame. Like, that’s some super black shit but also some extra Southern black gay shit. You do not see that typically in productions by stars of her caliber. To be from Houston and to be black with a Creole background and to be gay and to love black women and to see so much of myself and what I feel in five minutes overwhelms me with joy.

I don’t know what comes next from her, by design. But, she has managed to top her last album’s excellent visuals with one new music video. I cannot wait for what’s next. And oh, let’s not confuse one thing about this track: This is more of a rap song than anything. Yoncé tapped Swae Lee to help pen “Formation” and she pulls off that Rae Sremmurd flow so well.

In sum, this is the shit, and if you don’t like it, drown in the water with that cop car. To Beyoncé be the glory.

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