Beyoncé’s new album Renaissance is an immersion of dance, house, and soul music that captures that Friday-night-just-got-paid-anything-can-happen feeling. To achieve this, she paid homage to dance music history by sampling an impressive list of pioneers, from Robin S to Teena Marie and Donna Summer, while also presenting a fresh take for a new generation of fans.
More than just highlighting the evolution of dance, though, Renaissance also shows Beyoncé’s own evolution as an artist over the past two decades. She presents new ideas and themes centered around today’s current climate, but she’s been laying the foundation for many of these new songs for years. From her days in Destiny’s Child in the late ’90s, all the way up to 2016’s Lemonade, she’s been borrowing from various genres, trying out new flows, and refining her sound. Beyoncé is an artist who constantly evolves, and it’s her early work that helped build the cohesive sound of Renaissance.
As we continue to spin Beyoncé’s Renaissance, we looked back on her catalog and picked nine songs that helped inform the new album. These are songs that show some of her early forays into dance music, her first rap flows, and more. Presented in chronological order, the songs are below.