Jean Carter, by Beyoncé | Who has the right to play country music?

To say this album was anticipated is an understatement. cowboy carter was billed as a country album, but it’s much more than that, as Beyoncé switches codes and gives a history lesson.




This is not a country album.

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Beyonce

« It’s not a country album, it’s a Beyoncé album. » With these words Beyoncé presents her eighth album. If you only have to remember one thing while listening cowboy carter, that’s good. Here, Beyoncé took the codes of country music and did them…whatever she wanted to do with them. Surrounded by distinguished guests (including Dolly Parton, Linda Martell, Willie Nelson, Miley Cyrus and Post Malone), she reaffirmed her rejection of labels. At 42 years old, Beyoncé has a clear musical identity, which she affirms once again, with the great ability to simultaneously explore sounds that she had only touched before, for example with the song. Dad’s lessonswhich was already inspired in 2016 by bluegrass, or even Irreplaceable, which, in 2006, had its own (slight) country tinge. Sure cowboy carter, the influence is clear: country is everywhere on this album, the retro Nashville sound is there, the inspiration also drawn from classic rock. Beyoncé repositions American music, paying tribute to everything that makes it up (from folk to soul, bluegrass and rock) incorporating it into what distinguishes her music (in particular, the strong presence of R&B and hip-hop). hop). So you don’t have to be a country music expert (or like traditional country) to recognize the quality of the music. cowboy carter.

Extract from Bodyguardby Beyoncé

a little context

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Beyonce

Beyoncé has always been (a little) country, as you can see by delving into her discography, dating back to Destiny’s Child. This time there are no half measures. cowboy carter is the second part of a triptych released in 2022 with the album Renaissance. It took Beyoncé more than five years to make and was scheduled to be released first. Here it is, at last, this album “born from an experience during which (she) didn’t feel welcome,” she explained, probably referring to the song’s release. daddy lessons, rejected at the time by the Grammy Awards committee in the country category and also repudiated by genre purists. The place of African American artists in this musical universe raises an essential question: who has the “right” to make country music? Beyoncé’s answer: Anyone who wants to do it…and they can do it however they want! The message could not be clearer to listeners: “Act II – this cowboy carter “It challenged me and made me take the time to disrupt and mix genres,” Beyoncé explained.

Extract from texas holdemby Beyoncé

A history lesson

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Beyonce

Country music has always been African-American music, whether some of Nashville’s uptight cowboys like it or not. Those who didn’t know will learn it with this album, which gives a history lesson to anyone who deigns to open their ears carefully (and then do a little research). The country was born from European and African American people. It evolved based avidly on the blues. Country music’s first family, the Carter Family, who popularized the genre in the 1920s, based their work on the blues, gospel, and folk guitars of African-American Lesley Riddle. Beyoncé, whose family hails from the American South (she was born in Houston, Texas, to a mother from Louisiana and a father from Alabama), studied her history lessons extensively before singing her heritage. The presence on the album of Linda Martell, the first black woman to achieve popular success in country music, in the 1960s, has strong symbolism. Excerpts from songs by rock’n’roll pioneer Chuck Berry also appear on the album. And what about his repetition of the piece? Blackbird, by the Beatles, a piece that contains a powerful message: Paul McCartney wrote it in the 1960s to talk about racism and segregation, when nine black students had integrated, for the first time in the United States, a school reserved for whites. Symbols are everywhere.

Extract from blackbirdby Beyoncé

Twenty-seven songs, 80 minutes.

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Beyonce

We find everything in the 27 songs (for almost 80 minutes of listening) that make up Cowboy Carter. The initial piece, American requiem, is a great piece, an anthem with patriotic accents that proclaims its right to be heard, to be proud, to exist in the space it occupies. the proud Bodyguardone of the catchiest songs on the album, it has a sexy rock rhythm, explicit lyrics and a danceable rhythm. II Hands II Heaven It’s as much R&B as it is gospel. Sure Sweet*Honey*Buckiin, Nashville and New Jersey meet in a country mix. The piece Daughter It is a ballad with a Western air, to which the singer’s interpretation adds a hip-hop touch and whose text refers to murder and violence. A perfect example of what Beyoncé can do, the song transports us half-completely somewhere else, with an operatic feel, without being disconcerting. The pleasant and ribald Levi’s jeans welcomes Post Malone, who responds quite well to Beyoncé. One of the most fruitful collaborations on the album, in II Most wanted, with Miley Cyrus, allows for a very classic duet, where the singers have one verse each and seem to be conversing. Sure cowboy carterBeyoncé makes bold choices (a slightly wobbly guitar tone, an eagle cry (American emblem) between two songs, a predominant banjo), not always perfect, but each time completely assumed.

Extract fromAmerican requiemby Beyoncé

Those before and after her.

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Beyonce

Beyoncé did not hesitate to collect the blessing of country icons and sprinkle them on her album. Knowing the reluctance of some, she included her responses to whining in the songs. Who will dare to tell Willie Nelson that he is wrong when he says that Beyoncé brings this album? some really good shit » ? Who will make fun of the reinterpretation of the song? jolene, while Dolly Parton herself, in an interlude, introduces the piece? Parton has said several times in recent years that she wishes Beyoncé would take care of her. jolene. She did it her way, altering her words: this time it wasn’t about begging Jolene not to come near her man, but rather Beyoncé warning him of the consequences if she dared. To do it. cowboy carter honors country music by delving into the influences of the past, but also projecting itself into the future. Thus, African-American country singers Reyna Roberts, Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer and Tiera Kennedy sing in chorus with her. blackbird, a perfect piece to signify that a new time is necessary. Beyoncé is far from the first popular black artist to perpetuate country in her work. Ray Charles, Solomon Burke, Esther Philips, Otis Williams, Millie Jackson and Tina Turner have all played it. There’s no doubt that this Beyoncé album represents hope for black country artists that from now on, they’ll find it a little easier to assert their place.

Extract from joleneby Beyoncé

cowboy carter

pop country

cowboy carter

Beyonce

Parkwood Entertainment, Sony Music

8.5/10

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