"Everything Is Love"
BOTTOM LINE Beyonce and Jay-Z celebrate their love and good fortune by creating soulful beauty
Maybe the most spectacular thing about Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s surprise joint album “Everything Is Love” (Parkwood/Roc Nation) is the premium they put on being quiet.
The Carters – using the last name Bey & Jay haven’t needed in years – are notoriously private in an era where celebrities regularly share their lives on social media. Not only did no one know their album was coming before it arrived Saturday night, timed during their “On The Run II” stadium tour, they also make news with their rhymes.
On “Ape—,” Jay-Z confirmed the rumors that he was offered this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show before Justin Timberlake, rapping, “I said no to the Super Bowl… You need me, I don’t need you.” Oh and the video for that song was filmed in The Louvre in front of the Mona Lisa. Yes, no one knew that either.
The arrival of “Everything Is Love” seems to confirm that when The Carters decided to work out their marital issues they also crafted a strategy as secretive as the Robert Mueller probe. Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” album arrived first to reveal the problems. Jay-Z followed with his apology album “4:44.” And now, we have The Carters as a happy couple once again, with warm Daptone soul as a backdrop and hip-hop so well-crafted it shines brightly as it cuts.
The album opens with “Summer,” with Beyoncé singing, “Let’s make love in the summertime… Make plans to be in each other’s arms,” and closes with “LoveHappy,” where they recount their sometimes-rocky relationship through today. When Jay talks about buying Bey a new wedding ring from Chaumet, she responds, “Yeah, you [expletive] up the first stone, we had to get remarried.” When Jay replies, “Yo, chill man,” she says, “We keepin’ it real with these people, right? Lucky I ain’t kill you when I met that [expletive].” Jay tries to smooth things out from there.
Of course, “Everything Is Love,” like “Lemonade” and “4:44” before it, isn’t just about them. It’s about the world around them and giving hope to that world.
The Carters recognize that they are lucky. “I can’t believe we made it,” Beyoncé sings repeatedly in “Ape—.” In “Black Effect,” Jay raps, “Man, we started with a mustard seed. Now, we in the gray 911 with the mustard seats.” But in the standout track, the Porsche 911 isn’t the goal. It’s the promise that “Trayvon is comin’ next” that there are more like-minded black artists coming with The Carters to lead, to be “LeBron James to you Omarosas.”
And they plan to do this quietly. As Beyonce warns in the mostly light-hearted “Heard About Us,” “We good, we good… Keep us out your mouth.”