Six years after Lemonade burst its way onto the internet—and after months of speculation from the Knowles oracles, desperately divining for clues to her master plan—Beyoncé has finally released Renaissance, her seventh studio album. More specifically, she’s released Renaissance: Act I, but since this thing is 16 tracks long, we’re going to go ahead and take it as qutie a bit more than a prologue.
Released through Columbia Records and Parkwood Entertainment, it’s notable that Renaissance is not going the Tidal exclusive route; although first single “Break My Soul” went up on the streaming service earlier than its competitors last week, the album as a whole is up on Spotify and other major streaming services right now; lyric videos for the entire album are rolling out, in staggered form, on Beyoncé’s YouTube page as we type.
We’ll have our own coverage of the album itself up over the next few days, but Beyoncé has already talked a bit about the themes of Renaissance, which she says she recorded over the last three years of pandemic living. Said themes include a general desire for freedom, escape, joy, and other reliefs from the monotony that we imagine gets down even those of us who happen to be Beyoncé; of course, you didn’t really need us to lay that out for you, since all those ideas are perfectly encapsulated in the album’s cover. Really, what could say “I desire a release from ennui” like riding through the universe on a horse made out of the galaxy brain meme?
Oh, hey, one of those lyric videos just went live: Check out “Alien Superstar,” which combines rap verses and thudding techno beats with a chorus that goes super hard, if we’re being completely honest.
In addition to Beyoncé herself, Renaissance features contributions from a whole host of folks, including BEAM, Tems, Grace Jones, and more. (Unlike Lemonade, it also features a number of credited contributions from “Shawn Carter,” a.k.a. Jay-Z who wrote lyrics for three of the album’s songs.)