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Latest: Beyoncé’ Unveils ‘Renaissance,’ the First of Three New Projects

This is “Act I” of a body of work that began during the pandemic and was “found to be the most innovative,” according to a statement from the music artist.

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Finally, the new Beyoncé album has been released. “Renaissance,” the singer’s seventh solo studio album and the first half of a projected trilogy, was leaked online two days early in a rare break of her meticulously planned release schedule.

In a statement released at midnight on Friday, Beyoncé recognized the hiccup in the album’s widespread release on streaming sites. According to what she stated in an email to her devoted followers, “the leak of the album was actually a good thing because it allowed you all to experience it together. After thanking her fans “for your love and protection,” she said, “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

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Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” debuted after a marketing campaign that was strangely traditional for the singer. Beyoncé spent six weeks hammering the promotional drum after years of tearing up the usual playbook for releasing new music, skipping early radio singles and interviews in favor of surprise drops and grandiose multimedia spectacles. Before the album’s release, she did an interview with British Vogue, released the single “Break My Soul,” and disclosed the track list.

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On the other hand, high-quality versions of the album’s 16 tracks appeared online on Wednesday, 36 hours before the scheduled release time—even as Beyoncé’s most diligent admirers urged one another to hold out (and to tattletale on the bootleggers). Upon the album’s release, Beyoncé made a comment on social media saying, “I appreciate you for calling out everyone that was trying to sneak into the club early.”

Fans hypothesized that the music may have come from early CDs being sold in select European shops. “Renaissance” is a retro album, and the old-fashioned leak of a blockbuster record appeared to match the throwback vibe of the album.

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A diverse group of authors and producers contributed to the generally upbeat tunes, which reference disco, funk, house, techno, and other genres. Some tracks give credit to as many as a dozen persons. It’s not just Beyonce colleagues like The-Dream, Pharrell Williams, Hit-Boy and Drake that make up Beyonce’s stable of collaborators, but also electronic producers like Skrillex, BloodPop and A.G. Cook of PC Music.

With a wide range of musical influences, “America Has a Problem” draws from Atlanta bass pioneer Kilo, while the final song, “Summer Renaissance,” incorporates an interpolation of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” from 1977. Tems, Grace Jones, and Beyoncé all feature on “Move,” a song that mixes traditional black music genres like soul and R&B with more contemporary subcultures like ballroom vogueing.

On “Alien Superstar,” she sings, “I’m one of one/I’m number one/I’m the only one….” Nobody in the world can think like me, so don’t waste your time trying to compete with me.

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Beyoncé explained on Thursday that “Renaissance” was part of a “three act project” she recorded during the pandemic, in a statement she uploaded to Instagram last month. Act I” is “a place to fantasize and find escape amid a frightening period for the world,” she said.

It was my wish that my music would inspire others to let go of their inhibitions and let go of their inhibitions,” she said. A location where you can let go of your need for perfection and overthinking. In a place where you can yell, scream, and feel free.

It’s worth noting that Beyoncé has previously spoken about her late “Uncle Jonny,” who died of AIDS-related complications, as an inspiration for her music and its historical ties to the LGBT community.

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Her godmother, “He was my godmother and the first person to introduce me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as an inspiration for this album,” she wrote in an email. All of the pioneers who created culture, as well as all of the fallen angels whose efforts have gone unacknowledged for far too long, have been thanked.

Fans have been kept busy with a slew of ambitious side projects since Beyoncé’s latest studio album and accompanying film, “Lemonade,” came out in 2016.

As one of the festival’s main attractions in 2018, she paid homage to the marching band tradition of historically Black colleges and universities with a performance that was widely hailed as a triumph, one that “reoriented her music, sidelining its connections to pop and framing it squarely in a lineage of Southern Black musical traditions,” as critic Jon Caramanica wrote in The New York Times. An album and a Netflix special both called “Homecoming” were released following the performance.

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Earlier this year, Beyoncé and her husband Jay-Z issued a collaborative album under the name “Everything Is Love,” which was credited to the Carters. So she wrote and published a song titled “Black Parade,” which featured lyrics like “Put your fist up in the air, demonstrate Black love,” just months after George Floyd was murdered.

It was one of four Grammys Beyoncé won that night, including best R&B performance for “Black Parade,” which gave her a career-high total of 28 Grammys. For her song “Be Alive” from the film “King Richard,” a biopic about the father of Venus and Serena Williams, Beyoncé was nominated for an Academy Award for best original song.

How the early disclosure may impact “Renaissance’s” commercial potential is still unknown. In the past, an album’s reputation could be ruined if tracks were leaked ahead of time. However, the change to streaming has minimized this risk.

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Most musicians these days take advance orders for physical copies of their albums, which are normally mailed the week after the release date. Beyoncé is no exception. There are no more copies of Beyoncé’s “Renaissance” box sets or limited-edition vinyl available on her website.

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