NEW YORK • Beyonce is back with her first new single in more than two years, a hip-hop-heavy track with nods to the Black Lives Matter movement and police brutality.
The pop star surprised fans by releasing the single and accompan- ying video, Formation, last Saturday, a day before she was set to perform before tens of millions of television viewers during the Super Bowl half-time show alongside British rockers Coldplay.
The video set in New Orleans offers fleeting but poignant references to Black Lives Matter, the movement against police brutality that has gained steam across the United States in recent years.
A row of police officers in riot gear appears throughout the video.
At the end, they raise their hands in the gesture of people under arrest; the camera then turns to graffiti on the wall that says, "Stop shooting us".
In a likely allusion to Hurricane Katrina and the widely criticised government response, she sings throughout the video on a New Orleans police car that is sinking into water.
Set to a bouncy beat, she largely sets aside her sweeping vocal range for a hip-hop delivery as she declares herself true to her roots and boasts of her extraordinary success.
"I might just be like a black Bill Gates in the making, 'cause I slay," sings Beyonce, whose combined worth with rapper husband Jay Z is estimated at about US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), as she name-checks the Microsoft tycoon-turned- philanthropist. As the camera turns to a cameo appearance by her four-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, she sings: "Earned all this money but they never take the country out of me/I got hot sauce in my bag, swag."
She put out Formation as an exclusive on the Tidal streaming service, which is led by Jay Z.
Beyonce, who came to fame with Destiny's Child before becoming a superstar solo artist, has not released an album since late 2013.