The surprise release of Beyoncé’s 2013 album, aptly named “Beyoncé,” marked a pivotal moment not only in her career, but also her place within the public imagination. Once again, the world’s most famous enigma has “pulled a Beyoncé” with the release of her latest album, “Homecoming: The Live Album.”
Following the first album’s release, the term “pulling a Beyoncé” was coined, and has since become synonymous with the performer’s favorite marketing tactic – none at all.
The album was released with absolutely no marketing or promotion beforehand – a move that stunned her devoted “Beyhive,” but was very on-brand for the more private, low-key image that the performer has cultivated in recent years.
Beyoncé went on to employ the little-to-no promotion tactic on her three subsequent studio albums: “Lemonade” (2016), “Everything Is Love” (2018), which was created collaboratively with her husband, Jay-Z, and most recently, “Homecoming: The Live Album,” a live recording of her widely acclaimed 2018 Coachella set, which was released earlier this month concurrently with Netflix’s documentary about the event.
Many speculate as to why a performer would want to release a work of art that is potentially so lucrative and not say a single word about it.
The answer is simple – because she doesn’t need to.
Beyoncé is at a point in her career where she does not need to market or advertise herself. She knows people will buy every album, every song. She knows they’ll pick apart every single lyric hoping to divine some insight into her notoriously private and mysterious personal life.
And this is exactly what she wants.
Rather than appearing on talk shows or writing lengthy tweets about her personal life, Beyoncé allows her music and her art to do the talking for her. She is saying, “I’ve said what I needed to say. You will hear from me again when I want you to hear from me.”
She is the gatekeeper of her own narrative, which in this day and age is an exceedingly rare privilege for somebody of such mega-stardom.
Her 2016 album “Lemonade” seemed to chronicle Beyoncé’s emotional journey through her husband’s alleged infidelity. The album led to a social media frenzy which involved many fans attempting to “cancel” Jay-Z, and identify “Becky with the good hair,” as referenced in the song “Sorry.”
Staying true to her style, Beyoncé has never commented publicly on the album nor its meaning. By doing so, she has allowed her audience to interpret her cryptic lyrics however they choose, which would perhaps indicate that, like a true artist, the true meaning behind her art matters only to her.
The message and content of her music dramatically changed with the release of her 2013 self-titled album. It was clear that she was no longer interested in being the pop/R&B princess that she had created under the management of her purportedly domineering father, Mathew Knowles, with whom she severed professional ties in 2011.
Since that album, Beyoncé has not shied away from expressing and celebrating her sexuality, her confidence and perhaps most importantly, her blackness.
“As a black woman, I used to feel like the world wanted me to stay in my little box. And black women often feel underestimated,” she says during her Netflix documentary. “I wanted us to be proud of not only the show, but the process. Proud of the struggle. I’m thankful for the beauty that comes with a painful history and rejoice in the pain. Rejoice in the imperfections and the wrongs that are so damn right.”
The music video for “Formation,” the debut single from “Lemonade,” opens with Beyoncé seated on a New Orleans police car that has been submerged in flood water. A visual commentary on the tumultuous relationship between law enforcement and the black community, as well as a critical statement regarding the abandonment of much of New Orleans’ black community following Hurricane Katrina.
Returning to her roots is a common theme in many of her recent works—as evidenced in the title of her most recent album, “Homecoming.”
The HBO film that accompanied the release of “Lemonade,” prominently featured motifs of Louisiana black and Creole culture—a nod to Beyoncé’s own ancestry. Her mother, Tina, is notably of Louisiana Creole descent. And scenes for a number of music videos from her 2013 self-titled album were filmed in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
In returning to her roots, she is replanting herself in Earth’s surface following nearly two decades of soaring through the cosmos of fame. She continues to reinvent herself, find herself, define herself.
With every album, every project, every performance, Beyoncé is reminding us that she has yet to peak. Her end is nowhere in sight. She has absolutely no interest in pimping out her celebrity or being known for anything other than her talent and artistry.