Beyoncé has made a comeback.
Six years after releasing Lemonade, Queen Bey has released Renaissance, her latest solo album. The 16-track LP, the first instalment of a “three-act project,” features lead single “Break My Soul” as well as songs featuring Jay-Z, Skrillex, 070 Shake, The Dream, Drake, and others. The album does include two songs with guest vocalists: Jamaican-born, Miami-raised reggae artist Beam appears on “Energy,” and Grace Jones and Tems appear on “Move.”
Renaissance was recorded over the course of the pandemic after nearly three years of work. “Creating this album gave me a place to dream and find escape during a frightening time for the world,” she said in press materials. “It gave me a sense of freedom and adventure at a time when little else was moving…My intention was to create a safe haven, free of judgment. A sanctuary from perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, let go, and feel free. It was a lovely journey of discovery.”
Renaissance interpolates music written by Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder (“I Feel Love” on “Summer Romance), James Brown (on “Church Girl”), Teena Marie, and others, in addition to a diverse cast of co-composers. “Break My Soul” includes a synth line reminiscent of Robin S’ classic house hit “Show Me Love” and a vocal sample from Big Freedia’s 2014 LP Just Be Free: “Release your anger/Release your mind/Release your job/Release your time/Release your trade/Release your stress/Release your love/Forget the rest.”
Nova Wav, No I.D., Raphael Saadiq, Mike Dean, Honey Dijon, Chris Penny, Luke Solomon, and others also contribute to the album. Nile Rodgers’ guitar is featured on “Cuff It,” to which Sheila E. contributed percussion. “Alien Superstar” samples Right Said Fred’s 1990s pop hit “I’m Too Sexy.” “Milkshake” by Kelis is interpolated on “Energy.” Kelis referred to online rumours of Beyoncé sampling her work as “theft.”
The album leaked two days before it was supposed to be released. Beyoncé issued a statement shortly before the album’s official release, thanking her fans for their patience. “So, the album leaked, and you all actually waited until the proper release time so you can all enjoy it together,” she wrote. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I can’t thank y’all enough for your love and protection. I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early. It means the world to me. Thank you for your unwavering support. Thank you for being patient. We are going to take our time and enjoy the music. I will continue to give you all my all and do my best to bring you joy. I love you deep.”