Monday, December 16, 2013

YONCÉ, L'Artiste

A friend and Cornell alum penned the following and it got me thinking. 
Is Beyoncé an artist? 
Let’s back up a bit and define what the modern day artist is: a creator. They are originators, rule pushers, and leaders. They make us question the status quo and connect the dots in ways no one else has. 
Beyoncé is a talented performer, and a machine (robot?), but she is not an artist. If the musical marines for performers existed she’d be a general, pushing all other artist lieutenants to suck it up and give her 20 vocal warm ups while running 5 miles backwards. She can kill it on stage, but she is not a creator. 
-Social Blunts 
I been thinkin'

Beyoncé is the quintessential entertainer and if there were four-star general designations awarded for performance and showmanship in pop, only two people are worthy - Beyoncé and Michael Jackson.

However I struggle with my friend's limited definition of "artist."

Is being able to breathe life into someone else's art artistry as well? Or is it mastery? Is there a difference?

Is the prima ballerina at American Ballet Theatre not an artist? Does Misty Copeland receive the title of dancer and the company's choreographer revered as the only "artist" in this context?

Is Kanye a curator of taste with a maschine at his disposal and Taylor Swift a bona fide artist due to her instrumental acumen? Is a maschine not an instrument? Are socioeconomic barriers to entry of little consequence? Real questions. 

Is Prince an artist, but Michael Jackson not?  

Are Beyoncé's supplementary writing credits insufficient for social media's music dilettantes?

Is Beyoncé's editorial prowess of her artistic presentation not valid?
Is Anna Wintour insignificant?

What are the parameters? And like most things, is this a matter of subjectivity?

Most likely. 

I always wondered, if an architect makes a blueprint and a sculptor builds the architects work to perfection, who really deserves the credit? Take away either piece of the equation and the piece of work may not be as poignant.
-Facebook Commenter, B Carzo
Ignoring his questionable conflation of two trades; and we substitute "sculptor" with "construction worker," this analogy works - Beyoncé is the baddest Bob the Builder in all the land. 

The Toll Brothers of Billboard. 

Construct on Bey, construct. 

Regarding her eponymous fifth studio album BEYONCÉ

...I really like it. 

The dead of the night album release that caught everyone unawares and left us groggy at work the next day was equal parts spectacular, ingenious, and impressive, but it's the content that's also worthy of accolade. 

BEYONCÉ is Beyoncé's artistic evolution in an era of alternative R&B and gritty electronic/dubstep/soul à la Jamie xx and FKA twigs and Sampha and James Blake and Arca and Illuminati AMS and NGUZUNGUZU and Ólafur Arnalds. The influence of the aforementioned artists and the like are evident in BEYONCÉ and it's a refreshing departure from her usual sound aesthetic - a development many waited patiently to hear in Beyoncé's camp of enviable producers and lyricists.  

I imagine over the past several years, Solange or Drake or maybe Frank Ocean gradually bolstered her iTunes library. And Beyonce, the humble deity she is, gladly received and bestowed upon us something so effusively satisfying...
We weren't ready. 

BEYONCÉ is pleasantly disjointed, but thematically cohesive. The Houston native introduces us to a more textured and mature sound than her previous works. "Haunted" for example takes cues from the production of electronic/trip-hop artist Burial, who has made a career sampling R&B cornerstones such as Aaliyah and Destiny's Child and integrates them seamlessly into that ambient down-tempo; bass-ridden electronic sound London is increasingly being known to output. Hi "Superpower." And "Rocket", whew, rocked itThank you Miguel, Timbaland, and J-Roc. 

Beyoncéreflects upon critiques of her perceived persona in "Haunted," "I'm climbing up the walls cause all the shit I hear is boring. All the shit I do is boring, all these record labels boring." This album is her most meta and relateable, but it's also her most "adult."  Her explicitness, her overt sexiness, isn't forced. Rather it feels like a side of her we already knew existed, but now she can she is indulging in it. She's completely comfortable in this element - in her skin - which is why fans are eating it up.

"It’s tempting to read Beyoncé’s hard edges as an attempt to ride the success of Rihanna or Miley Cyrus’ risqué agendas—but to do so would be to look past the album’s true provocations. Beyoncé pushes boundaries not because it sells sex at every turn, but because it treats a power-balanced marriage as a place where sexuality thrives. " -Pitchfork 

An aside, is Jay Z secretly Casanova of lovemaking? Does he have a diamond encrusted surfboard? I've never seen a woman so happy singing about... Listen, you better #TwerkTeam kick Bey. 

The 41 Most Unbelievably Flawless And Life-Changing Moments From Beyonc�'s New Album

BEYONCÉ, conceptually, is more "art pop" than Gaga's ARTPOP and the individual track composition is akin to Kanye's YEEZUS. 

Another aside, is CAPITAL CASE the new alphabet of the supremes? REAL QUESTIONS. 

Overall, the album is a solid B+, but I have to admit, I am really enjoying it and its complementary video shorts. I've been in a Beyoncé-induced bliss since last Thursday night and there is zero shame in admitting it. I guess I'm just a ratchet jawn in a relationship who is also deeply devoted to female upliftment and freedom, both intellectually and sexually and if I had to base my review on "feels" and "enjoyability," an A would be justified. My favorite Beyoncé album to date

"Est-ce que tu aimes le sexe?
Le sexe, je veux dire l'activité physique, le coït, tu aimes ça? Tu ne t'intéresses pas au sexe? 
Les hommes pensent que les féministes détestent le sexe mais c'est une activité très stimulante et naturelle que les femmes adorent."
-The Big Lebowski

No comments: