Now that the dust has (mostly) settled following Beychella, it's good as time as any to talk about why that performance matters. But let's take it back to 2016.
When "Formation" dropped out of nowhere in February of that year, I remember being in the club with a friend. Another friend was at fashion week and sent me a text that almost ended my life. "BEYONCE JUST DROPPED A MUSIC VIDEO." Of course, I didn't believe him but as soon as I jumped onto YouTube and saw what I saw, I ran the hell out of that club and stood outside in the cold to watch and watch and watch.
It was still pretty loud outside the club but the next day, I properly got into it. The thing that became very apparent to me was that Beyonce was finally doing what I had wanted from her for years: very
black music. And I loved it!
album was certainly a watershed moment for Bey and her career but if we're honest with ourselves, the only black song on that album is "Formation." The rest of it deals with Jay Z's infidelity and how Beyonce navigated her way through it. The visuals throughout the visual album, though, are very, very black so at least there's that. But then there was Superbowl with Coldplay and Bruno Mars and handing Colin Kaepernick his Muhammad Ali Legacy Award among many other obviously black moves.
It's important that Beyonce - being Beyonce - makes obviously black work because in a world that is increasingly trying to silence voices, Beyonce's visibility and influence matters.
So, now Coachella.
It's no coincidence that Bey's Coachella set was a mashup of royal, Egyptian-esque and college themes. The concert reads as a journey through the unconquerable power of blackness: Beyonce, a timid black girl from the south is capable of rising up to be the most powerful force in a music. Think about the pyramid she formed on the stage for her field band to stand strong on. Or how it was capped with a powerful sun. Or how strong the choreography was. Or how healthy and happy Beyonce looked. And that power lives in every black person alive. That's the message of "Formation" and that is certainly the message of Beychella.
Her mother, Tina Lawson, had this to say. I told Beyonce that i was afraid that the predominately white audience at Coachella would be confused by all of the black culture and Black college culture because it was something that they might not get. Her brave response to me made me feel a-bit selfish and ashamed. She said i have worked very hard to get to the point where i have a true voice and At this point in my life and my career i have a responsibility to do whats best for the world and not what is most popular " She said that her hope is that after the show young people would research this culture and see how cool it is, and young people black and white would listen to " LIFT EVERY VOICE AND SING and see how amazing the words are for us all and bridge the gap. She also hopes that it will encourage young kids to enroll in our amazing HIstorically Black Colleges and Universities . I stand corrected ❤️
Where Beyonce can, it should be expected of her to amplify blackness in all of its power, grace and beauty because of the amount of power she possesses. There's not a single black person in entertainment with as much power as she does - not even a billionaire like Oprah. That doesn't mean there won't be problems. You can survive infidelity: say what you want; Jay Z belonged in the show because he's an inextricable part of the Beyonce story, its challenges and its triumphs. You can survive with your sisters on your side: it was necessary and important to have Destiny's Child on the stage who are also an inextricable part of the Beyonce story. You need your sister by your side: it will always be important to see the love and camaraderie between Beyonce and Solange.
Colleges (or universities in our case) are historically necessary sites for protest against all manner of injustices. That's why it made so much sense to have that theme as a the thread that pulls everything together in Beyonce's show. The military and black panther themes speak for themselves as a necessary indicator for black strength. Throw in Egyptian royalty which we know continues to be whitewashed and Beychella becomes a necessary protest performance piece for generations to come. Rifumo Mdaka is an audiophile and technophile. When I'm bored, I watch iPhone keynotes and commercials. Read my website FDBQ Music and follow me on Twitter, @rifvmo