It’s been a minute since I posted on this platform and now I’m doing it when everyone is out and about or fast asleep. But I just took Renaissance, Beyoncé’s first full-length LP since 2016’s Lemonade, out for a five-mile, post-readings walk and am here to say that not liking it is a form of anti-populist–nay, anti-popular kids!–sour-pussism akin to not liking screwball dames in the 1940s; Singin’ in the Rain and rock ‘n’ roll backbeats in the 1950s; the Beatles, the Stones and Stax Records in the 1960s; Steinem, Scorsese, and SNL in the 1970s; the Boston Celtics, MJ, and Eddie Murphy in the 1980s; and the Chicago Bulls and Nirvana after Nevermind hit #1 on the Billboard Charts in the 1990s.
Okay, I don’t really expect everyone to toe this aesthetic line, but I do contend that even in this day and age, some things are popular because they are just so freaking good they’re undeniable. To me, that’s Beyonce and this just-what-the-doctor-ordered album. It’s full of her usual Virgo virtousity— full-throttle throaty thotty vocals, brillllllliant syncopation, and a wholly earned homage to the ancestors –with a new splash of real sex, not studio-engineered sex. As in: somebody is blowing out her back besides ho-hum Jay-Z and I’m here to ride that train.
As in: The hardest working broad in show business just released a liberationist album and it’s the trumpet we swans needed.
Every track is iconic in the most utopian application of that term and every one nods to a different big bang. “Cuff It” alone has already been played by this witch at least 100 times, “Cozy” is the ultimate runway anthem for we over-40 thrivalists, and don’t get me started on the “Break My Soul” remixes she’s been releasing all week. Last night she dropped the best one yet–a “Queens” remix reworking Madonna’s “Vogue” that calls out all the r&b goddesses as her very own sister-sirens. By the time she purred “Jilly from Philly, I love you boo,” I was bawling on my stoop. B. holds space for everyone who tries their best, and that sort of generosity is infectious.
In general I’m digging life so much that I haven’t been finding the time to say much about it. But this album encapsulates that vibe so well–a yes-the-sky-is-falling-down-but-that-doesn’t-mean-we-can’t-show-up-for-each-other-then-boogie-our-brains–out—that I had to sing it from the rooftops after dancing it naked. Because yes.
In my intuitive readings, city walks, beach adventures, and even social media feeds I’m witnessing this Leo Season as more break-through than break-down. Glass ceilings and glass houses are shattering everywhere–especially in the realms of intimacy, creativity, travel, and the domestic and erotic arts–and pleasure principle is riding principal with a sexy school-marm riding crop.
Summer 2022, y’all. Who knew?
I’ve always been a big walker; everyone in my family walks a lot. Even before I moved to NYC three decades ago, I walked everywhere—-through Boston and its surrounding towns and, later, through Philadelphia and its insufferable suburbs. People I haven’t seen in twenty years will message me: I saw your parents walking down Route 16, four miles from their house. Whenever I visit my grandparents’ Northern Massachusetts town, I run into elders who say: I remember them walking everywhere together.
The difference, not to put too fine a point on it, is I walk alone. Continue Reading →