At this point in pop culture history, we should all probably wake up each morning wondering if today’s the day Beyoncé will drop another surprise album.
After all, her last two offerings — 2016’s Lemonade and 2013’s Beyoncé — were thrust into the public consciousness without so much as a warning. There was no advance marketing, no record-label announcement. They weren’t, and then they were.
Me: Wow what a nice quiet da-
— tyra sanchez (@edgeskinky) June 16, 2018
And each time, it has thrown the Internet into a full-blown frenzy, as people marvel not only over her music and powerful social messages, but the fact that once again she was able to keep it all secret and drop an entire album unexpectedly on our digital doorsteps.
And this past Saturday, she managed to do it again. The album, Everything is Love, is a joint effort with her husband, Jay-Z, released under their shared surname, the Carters. But so far most of the hype has surrounded Beyoncé herself, and the music video for the first single “Apes**t,” which seems ready to announce its place in art history.
The video was shot inside the Louvre, the French museum that houses the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo. And while the song’s title doesn’t exactly scream “art,” the video seems to be sending a message: what we consider to be high art will and must evolve. As Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and their dancers (all black women) fill the revered institution and take their place next to icons of history and culture, they highlight the oppositional relationship the upper-case Art World has had to much black art. As Bey and Jay stand proudly in front of the Mona Lisa, and it seems they’re getting ready to smash old expectations.
Beyonce and Jay Z just gave us a VIP tour of the Louvre. Imagine how many folks get to see amazing art for the first time because of this video 👏🏽 #EVERYTHINGISLOVE #APESHIT pic.twitter.com/BHwwfGhR8L
— Sowmya Krishnamurthy (@SowmyaK) June 16, 2018
The video itself looks like 45 billion bucks (the estimated value of the Louvre and its artworks), full of beautiful shots of both the art itself and of the dancers performing carefully coordinated choreography. And somehow, with all of this opulence and beuaty, Beyoncé herself remains at the forefront.
In response to the album’s drop, the full spectrum of Beyoncé commentators has shown up: lovers loving, haters hating, and conspiracy theorists spouting off about the Illuminati (a small but vocal contingent continues to insist she’s a member of the evil secret society). But this time there’s also another group getting vocal: art historians, who have taken to Twitter to teach us more about the amazing pieces the video highlights, and other artworks that it references.
hey, so this is the painting at the end of the Apeshit video for #EverythingIsLove btw. it's "Portrait of a Black Woman (Negress)" by Marie-Guillemine Benoist. it's one of the only pre-20th c portraits of a black person in the Louvre that's not explicitly a portrait of a slave. pic.twitter.com/6NtacSa391
— Constance Grady (@constancegrady) June 17, 2018
4) Winged Victory (Nike) of Samothrace, an Ancient Greek statue of the goddess of Victory. Beyoncé’s costuming mimics the folds of the statues drapery and positions her as Victory. She is clothed in white, imitating the statue’s current bleached state. pic.twitter.com/7tvexxCBbf
— Queen Curly Fry (@itsmeheidi_h) June 17, 2018
more: John Ellis (aka @hydeparkerchi) posted "kitchen table" on a post of mine on instagram and i did not catch this reference, but it's amazing. carrie mae weems's kitchen table (1990): https://t.co/PQtzBowTjb pic.twitter.com/C3AXwr0FNx
— kimberly rose drew (@museummammy) June 18, 2018
The album, aside from tackling the art world, also seems to reaffirm Jay and Bey’s relationship after Lemonade expressed the anger and heartbreak of infidelity. They show a united front in the video, and musically as well. If this album’s title is to be believed, the Carters are still going strong.
The album was initially released only on Tidal, Jay-Z’s own subscription streaming service, but it’s now on Spotify and Apple Music, much to the relief of Tidal’s critics.
stop trying to make Tidal happen, it's not gonna happen
— Josh Billinson (@jbillinson) June 16, 2018
You now officially have no excuse not to check it out.