HOLLYWOOD—Beyonce has a new single out “Break My Soul.” The new sound actually dates back to the diva house movement of the 1990s, with its deep grooves, soaring melodies and four-four beats. She even shares the writing credits with Allen George and Fred McFarlane, composers of the timeless house classic “Show Me Love,” for Robin S.
The single, “Break My Soul,” neither samples nor quotes their song. It simply uses the same bass sound, a preset on the infamous Korg M1 keyboard. Yet, Beyonce has always been careful to acknowledge the black creators who have influenced her. She actually sends royalty checks to the creators of “Show Me Love,” or to the family in the case of McFarlane, who died in 2016, is a very kind gesture. Beyonce’s first solo album in six years, “Renaissance,” due out July 29. It’s the follow-up to 2016’s “Lemonade.”
So why now is she announcing her first album in six years? We all know that the pandemic put everything on hold, for at least two years. The isolation over the last few years, was overwhelming. So everyone is ready to escape, travel, love and laugh again. It’s just like a renaissance emerging, and the thought of releasing a new album is a part of nurturing that escape. Just like going to a live concert, it’s a wonderful thing to see live bands again after two years of not going out to watch your favorite performers. While, it’s not cheap in today’s economy. As soon as you step into the venue, you are paying, and almost double the price.
Beyonce isn’t the only artist releasing albums, Drake’s new album also touches on emerging genres. His seventh album “Honestly, Nevermind,” was released last week. While Drake’s album is more concerned with relationships, which he seems to be a bit sad about them, he even promises to throw a party for his day ones, while bragging he’s a night owl. So many different genres that Drake and Queen Bey could have chosen to soundtrack their dancefloor escapades.
Both were smart enough to know the extra cultural weight that house carries. It emerged in a Chicago venue called “The Warehouse,” which initially operated as a members-only club almost exclusively frequented by Black and Latin-American gay men. That was back in the 70s. Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in the county, if not the world, according to published reports. Nobody wants you in their club. Nobody wants you partying. So they built their own…just for gay men and women. The club’s star DJ was Frankie Knuckles, who would use a reel-to-reel tape to create loops and pause button remixes of his favorite disco tracks, making them last a little longer.
Back in 1983, he acquired a drum machine to enhance his mixes-and that combination of stripped-back insistent beats with elements of cult disco classics defined the house sound. Frankie Knuckles was regarded as the godfather of house music. The music had a sexuality of blunt and blatant. Unlike disco, this wasn’t music made by musicians, it was made by clubbers for clubbers. By the late 80s, it had broken underground clubs and made its way onto the pop charts, helped many artists including Inner City, The Pet Shop Boys and Madonna-whose house anthem Vogue became a worldwide number one in 1990.
Beyonce makes it explicit in “Break My Soul,” embellishing her familiar theme of self-empowerment with a rap from Big Freedia, who has been a fierce advocate for LGBTQ+ rights after experiencing homophobia in the early days of her career. Big Freedia said she was honored to be included on Beyonce’s new single. Releasing their music during Pride month, Beyonce and Drake are doing more than just plundering their record collections for ideas. Their new records encourage people to check out Cece Rogers’ “Someday” or Marshall Jefferson’s “Move Your Body” or The Nightwriters’ “Let The Music Use You.”
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