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THE CARTERS: A TRILOGY OF TRUTH

Everything Is Love is the joyous ending of a tumultuous trilogy about Beyoncé and Jay-Z, the seeds of which began to spill out back in 2014 with the leaked security-cam footage of a fateful elevator ride with the couple and the ride-or-die sister, Solange. The saga exploded through the surprise release of Lemonade, an album that laid bare Bey’s stories of deep betrayal and a personal rebounding for the sake of motherhood and family. It was then further explored through Hov’s remorseful and penitent 4:44, an album delivered via the lens of fatherhood and maturity and highlighted by some Mogul Talk. 

But considering that the prevailing tone of this new nine-track set is one of celebration, the album’s theme seems to be as much about the salvation of a marriage that went through the fire as a personal triumph—the achievement of a level of wealth, power and influence never experienced before by previous generations—and a triumph, of sorts, for all black people. Everything Is Love celebrates—and stunts on—a stratum of empowerment that is wholly financial, which in and of itself in this racist climate makes it a political statement, because overall that is an accomplishment worthy of acknowledgment by all, and for some to emulate. 

Having their example in the world is itself a new momentum, not unlike a pebble that strikes the calm lake: It’s a disruptive force whose reverberations will continue forever.

That sentiment is made crystal clear on many levels with the single “Apeshit,” expressed both directly in the fiery lyrics and indirectly, with great purpose, in the stunning visuals that accompany it. The significance of this powerful black couple taking over the Louvre, whose history is distinctly white-centric, and whose art contains a chronicle of what is essentially deeply rooted colonialism, is a radical act. Pair that commentary with the middle-finger lyrics directed at some modern-day oppressors—identified in this case as the tactically suppressive NFL (which at the same time tries to suck up and curry favor) and the competitive tactics of the music industrial complex they have to navigate through (as both artists and owners), and we got some serious fuck yous served up here.

Say what you want about The Carters, but this couple is playing MONEYBALL—there is strategic brilliance underpinning the artistic endeavor. 

Speaking truth to power in any situation is bravery, not bravado. It’s significant in the context of Kanye West’s actions around the release of his music, in that you could make a strong argument that Jay-Z and Beyoncé have managed to go viral and successfully promote their art without pandering to white supremacists.

Package all that up with the title of the lead single itself, which could be easily interpreted as an offensive move for calling out those same white-nationalist detractors who might even try to dismissively frame their defiance and… LAYERS, people. 

Say what you want about The Carters, but this couple is playing MONEYBALL—there is strategic brilliance underpinning the artistic endeavor. Their recent albums have been consistently resonant with the public because there are real-world truths embedded in them. And while a good part of that realness is a referendum on their accelerating privilege and wealth, it comes with a humble admission that life is very different from the stratosphere of that zenith, and therefore told with a copious amount of gratitude and awareness of such a position. 

Particularly with the music itself, nine songs powered by co-productions with Pharrell, Cool & Dre, Jahaan Sweet, Boi-1daMike Dean and more, with sprinkles of MigosQuavo "skrrting" in all the pockets, Everything Is Love is built to be bumpin,’ with trap-tastic tempos interweaved with a few awesome old-school interpolations, like a chorus from “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. Dre & Snoop that we never knew Jay-Z actually wrote until now, and a few memorable lines from “The Light,” by Common

Bey morphing even further into a rap cadence post-Cardi B paradigm shift is a smart pivot. Serves as another example of how savvy both of them are at reading the current marketplace and responding in absolute sync. They are masterful at delivering to their core fans, a projection narrative of the couple being the king and queen of everything, our American Pharaohs. 

We can try to peer into the world of Beyoncé and Jay-Z from the outside to figure it all out, but the biggest truth of all here is that all we know is what they choose to share with us. These two artists are notoriously private and totally secluded from the usual glare of social-media turn-up and paparazzi-powered ubiquity, so when they do step out, they make sure it’s meaningful. Just as they tried to express by flexing alongside the world’s most profound artistic statements and invaluable treasures, they are trying to deliver art that is also timeless, by consistently attempting to light a new way of thinking that will live on after they are long gone.

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