Fifteen years ago, Beyoncé and Jay-Z released their first ever collaboration projects — his single “03 Bonnie and Clyde” and her single “Crazy in Love.” The couple released duets on a few more occasions, but on June 16, they released their first joint album, a nine-track reclamation of their love following years of public relationship scandal.
The surprise album, titled Everything Is Love, was billed as a collaboration. Yet it feels like nine Bey songs with Jay features — which is a good thing, because Jay has undoubtedly lost his edge.
On the lead single “Apeshit,” Beyoncé flexes her rap muscles with one of the best verses she’s recorded, rivaling her iconic flows from “7/11” and “Flawless Remix.” She carries the rest of the song with inspired lyrics while her husband, who made his career as a rapper, utters one lackluster verse, which contributes little to the track.
Beyoncé outshining her husband is not confined to just “Apeshit,” unfortunately. In the opening chorus and first verse of “Summer,” Beyoncé draws elegant comparisons between marriage and the beach in a soothing singing voice. One verse later, Jay sounds like a frat bro fumbling to compliment his girlfriend.
“She taste like Corona Light, sweet/ Even the lime gotta squeeze/ She gave me a lil swig, to chase behind my weed,” he raps.
If Beyoncé were a beer she would definitely not be the kind you can buy at a gas station; she’s far too unique and creative for that.
Despite the bizarre, try-hard Jay-isms, Everything is Love is a lyrical masterpiece, and Beyoncé drove that force most strikingly in “Boss,” an anthem honoring her artistic power.
“Ain’t nothing to it, I boss so I bought my momma a whip/ My great-great-grandchildren already rich/ That’s a lot of brown chil’ren on your Forbes list,” she boasts.
The album in its entirety showcases Bey’s superiority over Jay in terms of fame, talent and relevance. She dominates every track, her words and messages leaving a much more lasting impression than Jay’s mostly-shallow performance.
Although it’s easy to forget Jay-Z is a 21-time Grammy Award winner when he performs alongside his 22-time Grammy Award winning wife, it’s not like he did a bad job on the album. His flow is nothing like it was in the late ’90s and early ’00s, but he still has solid one-liners, and he references important issues such as prison reform and police brutality in “Friends” and “Black Effect.”
On her most recent solo project, Lemonade, Beyoncé shared a lot of the marital struggles the couple endured surrounding Jay’s infidelity. On Everything is Love, they announce those struggles are over, with the caveats that Beyoncé is 100 percent ‘that bitch’ and Jay cannot and will not forget his place in the relationship again.
They detail this rebirth of their romance in “Lovehappy” — the last song on the album and a very fitting closing narrative for their first project as a couple. The first line of the song encompasses it message perfectly, in which Beyoncé sings the words “Happily in love,” followed by Jay-Z imploring “Haters please forgive me.”
Everything is Love is a well rounded project that comes full circle. The first track on the album is full of coastal motifs and the last song closes with Beyoncé singing “This beach ain’t always been no paradise/ But nightmares only last one night.”
The Carters are masters of artistic consistency and proved that yet again with this project. Everything is Love has a central message and dependable sound, with enough variation to never get boring. It isn’t the Beyoncé release we wanted, but it’s a damn good musical endeavor.