Album Review: The Carters / Beyoncé & Jay-Z – Everything Is Love

beyonce jay z artwork the carters

Beyoncé and Jay-Z surprised the world yet again last week when they dropped the album Everything Is Love, a joined effort under the name The Carters. Guest editor writer and panel member Tim van Erp immersed himself in the 9 new tracks and tells us how he feels about this new Bey and Jay project!

“For those of you who weren’t convinced yet: Beyoncé really is a brilliant business woman. Two years after dropping a solo album about the infidelity of her husband Jay-Z (Lemonade) and a year after his mea culpa (in the form of album 4:44), the couple surprise-release an album together, under the monicker The Carters. Boy, is that clever. From the first track on, it is very clear that the two are happily in love but still working on their marriage, and mostly: stronger than ever as a powerful business couple.

Opening track ‘Summer’ is a breezy tune about making love in the summer, which is already a strong album opener – but track 2, first single ‘Apeshit’, really makes clear just how much Bey and Jay… well, slay. It’s a very well produced hiphop track with a chorus you will not be able to get out of your head and memorable lyrics (Beyoncé telling you to ‘get of [her] dick’ = life.)

In ‘Boss’ we can hear Beyoncé singing about… well, how she’s a boss. It’s a swaggy song which uses just the right amount of trumpets. ‘Nice’ featuring and co-produced by Pharrell Williams should definitely become the second official single: it sounds like a modern-day classic. Jay-Z seems to be stealing the show at first, but then Beyoncé drops the “Fuck you… and you… you’re cool” line. (Probably inspired  by Britney Spears’ ‘I Wanna Go’ video, but hey. Still awesome.) Both sound equally frustrated with others and satisfied with themselves on the track, which is pretty impressive.

‘713’ samples Dr. Dre’s ‘Still D.R.E.’, in quite the catchy way. The song is instantly memorable because of this, but it’s also a bit repetitive – up until the outro, which hits the right spot lyrically. In ‘Friends’ Jay-Z’s rap really stands out. The rest of the song is a bit repetitive and goes on a tad too long. Boring? Nah, not at all. It’s a calmer moment in the middle of the album, and in my opinion the weakest song, but it’s far from bad. The tempo is brought back on next track ‘Heard About Us’, where the couple sings and raps about their star power over a piano riddle and accompanying beat.

‘Black Effect’ is another highlight – not only does it sounds like a hiphop classic from the early 2000s, it also speaks on an important subject matter. Jay-Z rapping “Get your hands up high like a false arrest” in the chorus really hits home, but the rest of the lyrics are spot on as well on topics like racism, racial profiling and black pride. Album closer ‘Lovehappy’ is a great song (and an actual duet, albeit a non-traditional one), but its lyrics are an open book to the point where it almost gets uncanny at some points. Bey and Jay tell us about how happy they are together but how much it took them to get to this point, singing about how they temporarily broke up due to Jay’s affair. It’s almost as if they felt obligated to justify this album’s existence, and that’s far from necessary – the album would have been relevant and strong without these unsubtle lyrics, too. That being said, their back-and-forth is playful and clever.

All in all, Everything Is Love is a brilliantly planned and brilliantly executed album on which personal and societal matters are equally represented. It’s a logical and important next step in The Carters’ careers and one can’t help but wonder what they will come up with next, together or by themselves.”

– Tim van Erp

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