We all knew that Beyoncé was performing tomorrow at the Super Bowl 50 with Coldplay, but what we didn’t know was the Grammy-winning singer was going to sneak up behind us and drop a new video for her new song “Formation.”
And no lie: It’s pretty damn dope.
Yo. I can’t stop watching it.
I appreciate the message that success isn’t just deserved for Black women, but entitled. And while most songs about being hating on can be annoying and tone-deaf, this one actually works, because it’s not like Bey is whining for the sake of whining. She is speaking directly to accusations that she has sold her soul to the Illuminati, the media’s unhealthy preoccupation with her daughter’s hair and even mean memes and comments about her husband Jay-Z’s facial features.
Apparently, Bey used this video to troll the hell out of her haters. And I’m here for it.
But what makes this video so soul shattering is that we’ve never seen Beyoncé this Black before. And I mean this unapologetically Black. Like ever.
Like many female artists, Beyoncé uses her sexuality and female identity to sell her image and albums, but when it comes to her racial identity or her politics on race, Beyoncé has been quite mute. Even her newfound feminism that erupted with her last studio album was enlightening, but lacked any real racial analysis or intersection.
Translation: Bey may be Black, but her feminism doesn’t always feel that way.
And while it can’t be denied that she is one of the hardest working women in the game, many have wondered if her success has also been a result of always playing it safe for white consumption, i.e. being the exceptional non-threatening Negro.
From her defending L’Oreal for lightening her in ads to once saying “She wished she had been born Latina” to slicing and dicing up her racial make-up for a True Match foundation commercial a few years ago, many have asked, “If Solange can be Black, what’s stopping Bey?”
Yes, we did begin to see a shift in her last album. It was like for once she was allowing us to see a grittier more “ratched” side of herself, perhaps a truer portrayal of who she really is behind closed doors. But “Formation” antes that all the way up, showing us a seriously authentic Black self and sending us an aggressive message that she’s less interested in playing respectability politics anymore.
I mean this country girl just told us that keeps hot sauce in her bag, eats at Red Lobster and likes “cornbreads and collard greens.” That’s real Black.
Then there are the moving visuals.
With gay Black vernacular dripping over this fusion of Ferguson, Hurricane Katrina, the Black church and antebellum south imagery, “Formation” is making an incredibly powerful statement about race, class, gender, sexuality and white supremacy in America. I mean home girl is literally standing on top of a police car, making it sink. Not to mention, the little boy dancing in front of the line of white police officers with the graffiti “Stop Shooting Us” plastered on the wall. Chilling.
Even with rocking a blond lacefront, Bey ain’t running away from Blackness. At least not today.
I do wonder what’s behind Bey channeling her inner Angela Davis. Maybe she’s has nothing left to prove and has finally stopped caring about what white folks think. Maybe she realizes that to be a truly influential artist, you have to speak your authentic truth. Or maybe she finished counting all of her coins and realized that even if this new stance flops, she still has enough money left over to buy and sell most of us.
Whatever it is, it really doesn’t matter. I just hope this new “I refuse to shut up and sing” Bey is here to stay.