2022 dance album is nasty

Beyoncé has always been a “naughty girl,” but she’s absolutely filthy on her new album.

“Renaissance” (out now) finds Queen Bey in her gritty glory, three D’Ussé shots deep in New York City’s sweaty underground nightclub. It makes ‘Bootylicious’ sound like the theme song ‘Barney’ and ‘Partition’ like ‘I Will Always Love You’.

On no fewer than 16 tracks, Beyoncé’s caramel voice is enhanced by pulsating cadences that effortlessly fuse house music with afrobeats to form the best dance album of 2022. (Sorry, Drake.)

Beyoncé poses in a sheer silver dress.
This is Queen Bey’s seventh studio album.

“Cozy” is as much a self-love hymn (“Comfortable in my skin,” Bey crows) as it is a survivor’s catchphrase (“She’s a vibe / She’s a hero”). And with lyrics like “Paint the world p—y pink,” it’s no wonder “Renaissance” has a good old “Parental Advisory” sticker.

On paper, “Church Girl” looks like something you could easily play on a summer barbecue without your grandma looking to the side. But after 50 seconds, it practically challenges you not to twerk as Beyoncé sings “Drop it like a thotty” over a dazzling dizzying rhythm.

Beyoncé sitting on the floor in a bodysuit with black feathers.
“Renaissance” contains 16 house and Afrobeat tracks.
Carlijn Jacobs

“America Has a Problem” similarly deceives with its political-sounding title. Really, it’s just about Bey grinding Jay-Z (“Can’t wait to back it up… I’m supplyin’ my man / I’m in demand / Soon as I land”).

Not to mention ‘Plastic Off the Sofa’, the most sensual tribute to her husband since 2011’s ‘Dance for You’ After breathlessly chanting: “I know you had a hard time growing up. , but that’s okay,” growls Beyoncé, “I like it rough.”

Beyoncé sits in front of a mirrored wall while holding a cocktail.
Beyoncé described ‘Renaissance’ as ‘Act I’, indicating that more albums are on the way.
Mason Poole

Her mates may be dirtier than ever, but ‘Renaissance’ is a classic Beyoncé album through and through. Her vocals are unmistakable on the slow introduction “I’m That Girl”, and her bragging bragging rights include “Alien Superstar” when she swears, “Category: bad bitch / I’m the bar” and “I’m one of one / I am number one / I am the only one.”

Much like ‘The Gift’, Bey’s 2019 ‘Lion King’ album, ‘Renaissance’ is a cultural celebration. It is also a tribute to the dance greats who came before her; Disco diva Grace Jones returned to the studio for a rare feature on “Move,” and Robin S.’s 1990 house classic “Show Me Love” is sampled on Great Resignation-backed lead single “Break My Soul.”

Beyoncé lies on top of a metal horse while holding a white cowboy hat in the air.
The project features Beam, Grace Jones and Tems.
Carlijn Jacobs

When Beyoncé really leans into her club persona here, she excels. The cheering “Cuff It” is a funky earworm reminiscent of “Blow” from her self-titled 2013 album, paired with the jazzy horns that made “Schoolin’ Life” an underrated gem of 2011’s “4”.

Nods to the legendary discography of the 28-year-old Grammy winner are otherwise rare. On the six-minute “Virgo’s Groove,” she sings “You’re the Love of My Life,” a far cry from the Becky-defying lines about Jay’s admitted infidelity on 2016’s “Lemonade.” And on ‘Thique’ she shows a rasp in her voice that we’ve never heard before, backed by a brooding club beat.

Beyoncé poses in a church in a green dress with a matching face mask.
“Making this album gave me a place to dream and escape from a scary time for the world,” Beyoncé said in a statement.
Mason Poole

You could argue that “Renaissance” doesn’t feel like a career milestone the way “Beyoncé” and “Lemonade” did – their surprise releases and visual components only increased the magic, after all – but it’s a welcome and even refreshing progression for a superstar who consistently rewrites the rules.

And with instantly timeless tracks like the Prince-inspired second half of “Pure/Honey” and the sublime Donna Summer sampling closer “Summer Renaissance,” Beyoncé proves that everything she touches turns to gold (or, with her track record , multiplatinum).

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