Reproach and rapprochement on Beyonce and Jay-Z's Everything Is Love

Beyonce and Jay-Z in the music video for Apes***, the lead single from the couple's new album, Everything Is Love.
Beyonce and Jay-Z in the music video for Apes***, the lead single from the couple's new album, Everything Is Love.SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE/BEYONCE


The Carters
4 stars

First there was 2016's Lemonade, where Beyonce explored heartbreak and infidelity. Then in last year's 4:44, husband Jay-Z apologised for the aforementioned infidelity.

And now the power couple have teamed up for Everything Is Love, a declaration that everything is good in the hood. (Carter is Jay-Z's last name.)

The surprise joint album brings together an entertainment powerhouse and a legend of rap music. But while this is a tag-team effort and peak hip hop royalty is on show, one can't help but wonder: What can't Beyonce do?

She may be better known for her impeccable vocal runs and blistering dance routines. But while she spat rhymes on tracks like Formation and Yonce, and most recently on the DJ Khaled collaboration track Top Off, this album feels like the coming out party of Beyonce the bona fide rapper.

On many a track, she goes toe to toe with Jay-Z. On lead single Apes***, she adopts the signature quickfire style of rap trio Migos: "Gimme my check, put some respeck on my check, or pay me in equity, pay me in equity/Or watch me reverse out the d***".

Migos members Quavo and Offset feature on the track, but Beyonce manages to outshine them in their own triplet flow rap style, even throwing in the exact, tic-like "skrrt skrrt" ad libs that Migos are so fond of.

She shows off her versatility even within the rap sphere. There is laidback rap braggadocio, displayed in the track Boss, where she talks about the lifetime of wealth she has set up for her family. "My great-great-grandchildren already rich/ That's a lot of brown children on your Forbes list", she says cockily over a horn-tinged tune.

The best part is that she can spit a rhyme and then transition into a hook that she sings herself. "Ain't nothing to it," she sings in the chorus, almost as if she could do this in her sleep. No guest singers needed.

Jay-Z is no chump either, leaning into plenty of savage digs at mammoths of industry in this album that is much of an assertion of their power as it is about family, love and forgiveness.

On Apes***, the rapper calls out the 2018 Grammy Awards where he received eight nominations - the most out of any nominee - but went home empty-handed. He is unfazed, however. "Tell the Grammys f*** that 0 for 8 shit/Have you ever seen the crowd goin' apes***?"

Beyonce lays in on her own. On Nice, she takes aim at streaming service Spotify, on which she refused to release her seminal album Lemonade: "Patiently waiting for my demise, cause my success can't be quantified/If I gave two f***s about streaming numbers, would have put Lemonade up on Spotify". She almost spits it out in contempt over a Pharrell Williams-produced, dissonant, piano beat.

Ironically, the album, which was first released on Jay-Z owned music streaming service Tidal, was made available on all other streaming platforms just a day after.

Either way, husband and wife unite in their take downs and it is beautiful to listen to, especially after years of the drama playing out in the public eye. There is acceptance, forgiveness and even a lightness in how they trade barbs on album closer LoveHappy.

Beyonce: Yeah, you f***ed up the first stone, we had to get remarried

Jay-Z: Yo, chill man

Beyonce: "We keepin' it real with these people, right?/Lucky I ain't kill you when I met that b-.

Jay-Z: Nah, aight, aight/Y'all know how I met her, we broke up and got back together/To get her back, I had to sweat her".

With Everything Is Love, they reclaim the narrative, and perhaps it is a happy ending after all.