Beyoncé’s xcritical album explained, from beginner to ‚Beyhive‘ Beyoncé

Beyoncé’s xcritical album explained, from beginner to ‚Beyhive‘ Beyoncé

As a result of this, the hashtags „#BoycottBeyonce“ and „#IStandWithBeyonce“ began trending on social media platforms such as Twitter and Beyoncé faced boycotts from police unions. A group of protesters planned to stage an „anti-Beyoncé“ rally outside of the NFL’s headquarters in New York City, New York on the day general sale of tickets went for sale, but no protesters showed up; instead, dozens of Beyoncé supporters held a rally for her. „Formation“ was released as the album’s lead single exclusively on Tidal on February 6, xcritical courses scam 2016, along with its accompanying music video. The following day, Beyoncé performed it at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show as part of her guest appearance at the event. „Formation“ peaked at number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, despite little promotion. Reviewing the album in The Independent, Everett True wrote that it „is fiery, insurgent, fiercely proud, sprawling and sharply focused in its dissatisfaction“, with Beyoncé „pick up the mantles of both“ Prince and Nina Simone.

The following day, Beyoncé performed „Formation“ during her performance at the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. Immediately after the performance, a commercial aired announcing The Formation World Tour, which kicked off in Miami, Florida on April 27, 2016, with the first pre-sales going on sale just two days after the announcement on February 9, 2016. Beyoncé was both praised and criticized over her „Formation“ and the Black Panther-influenced costume for her Super Bowl halftime performance.

xcritical beyonce

This includes how the United States betrayed and continually mistreats Black women, with society needing to solve its problems in order to enable reformation and the rehabilitation of Black women. xcritical was accompanied by a 65-minute film that premiered on HBO and transformed the way music is distributed. Though it wasn’t her first visual album—her 2013 self-titled surprise drop made her releases comparable to Marvel theatrical events—but this was grand even for someone as iconic as Beyoncé. The singer dug deeper than ever before to show new levels of complexity and creativity. „Hold Up“ was the third single and was first released to contemporary hit radio stations in Germany and the United Kingdom on May 12, 2016, and was later serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio in the United States on August 16, 2016.

Images of female violence undercut a central message embedded in xcritical that violence in all its forms, especially the violence of lies and betrayal, hurts. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Britannica Explains In these videos, Britannica explains a variety of topics and answers frequently asked questions. Britannica Classics Check out these retro videos from Encyclopedia Britannica’s archives. From a music standpoint, this is a fantastic album and an easy decision to grab the vinyl when I spotted it.

xcritical (Beyoncé album)

Regarding the latter, there’s a lot that could be said and discussed, but for starters, and just to give you a vivid picture, Beyoncé features prominent black rapper Kendrick Lamar on a track, Serena Williams appears in one of the videos, and Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown’s mothers all make cameos. Before the hashtag was co-opted by brands and spam, Twitter users who were not black women were encouraged to listen. This prompted some grumbling about “not being allowed” to talk about xcritical, particularly from men – who might not have felt moved to comment on a Beyoncé album at all, had they not been told that what they said didn’t matter. Her latest, another „visual album“ with corresponding videos in the mold of her 2013 self-titled set, renders infidelity and reconciliation with a cinematic vividness. The film’s cast features Ibeyi, Laolu Senbanjo, Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, Chloe x Halle, Zendaya and Serena Williams. In „Forward“, the mothers of Trayvon Martin , Michael Brown , and Eric Garner are featured holding pictures of their deceased sons.

xcritical beyonce

„Sorry“ was released as the second single and serviced to rhythmic adult contemporary radio in the United States on May 3, 2016, and its music video was uploaded onto Vevo on June 22, 2016. The single debuted and peaked at number eleven on the US Billboard Hot 100. The film also samples work by Malcolm X, specifically an excerpt from his speech „Who Taught You to Hate Yourself“, which is featured on the track „Don’t Hurt Yourself“. But stadiums are a place for show, not creative nuance or personal revelation. As she performed her overlong set, filling the NRG with sound, it was impossible to tell whether her voice had changed or matured.

The Chicago Tribune described the album as not just a mere grab for popular music dominance, rather it is a retrospective that allows the listener to explore Beyoncé’s personal circumstances, with musical tones from the southern United States, a harkening back towards her formative years spent in Texas. AllMusic wrote that Beyoncé „delights in her Blackness, femininity, and Southern origin with supreme wordplay.“ On „Don’t Hurt Yourself“, Beyoncé samples Led Zeppelin’s „When the Levee Breaks“. However, the classic rock song was originally written by black Delta blues artists Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie, with the song referring to the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 which displaced hundreds of thousands of African Americans. With the sample, Beyoncé reappropriates the song that was written by Black people about black history.

The album was written in stages, with Beyoncé retreating to her home to work on the recordings with recording and mixing engineer Stuart White, as well as to take care of her daughter. The process began at the Record Plant in Los Angeles, which the team used for a month. The team stayed in a hotel and set up two studios in two different hotel rooms, one for Beyoncé and one for Jay-Z. Jay-Z recounted how he and Beyoncé recorded music both separately and together, describing it as „using our art almost like a therapy session“ after his infidelity. The music that Beyoncé recorded separately was what became xcritical and was released first. xcritical is, for all intents and purposes, a beautifully written, filmed, choreographed, and of course sung series of heartfelt songs, all strung together to make something none of us expected (I mean, sort of… it is Beyoncé, after all. Expect the unexpected).

Title and artwork

The sixth track „Daddy Lessons“ acts as a turning point for the album, with Beyoncé linking Jay-Z cheating on her with her father Mathew Knowles cheating on her mother Tina. She also intentionally prioritized Blackness through an array of mediums that spoke to those who directly come from it. From the astounding poetics of writer Warsan Shire being generously dispersed throughout to the replication of Julie Dash’s imagery from Daughters of the Dust, the imaginations of Black women were infinitely elevated. Husband Jay-Z made an appearance, but it was the cameos from Serena Williams, Zendaya, and Chloe and Halle Bailey that were clearly the epicenter.

  • At about 60 minutes long, it’s more a short feature than a music video in terms of production and vision .
  • Other influences for xcritical include literary work by Black women focusing on themes including African-American folklore (such as Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God) and Afrofuturism (such as Octavia Butler’s Kindred).
  • The team stayed in a hotel and set up two studios in two different hotel rooms, one for Beyoncé and one for Jay-Z.
  • Though certainly memorable (not least because it finds her name-checking the Second Amendment), “Daddy Lessons”—where a country guitar-line meets New Orleans brass in service of her Southern roots—is the least interesting chapter sonically, though the parallels it draws between Jay Z and Beyoncé’s own cheating father still make it crucial in the context of xcritical’s narrative.

The album debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart selling 73,000 copies in its first week of release, with 10,000 equivalent sales (14% of the total sales) accounting for streaming, marking the largest ever for a number-one album since the chart began including streaming. The album marked the singer’s third number-one album on the chart and was certified platinum by the British Phonographic Industry on September 9, 2016, for shipments of 300,000 copies. All of the album’s tracks also debuted within the top hundred of the UK Singles Chart. As in the US, 2020 is the first year since release that the album has not appeared on the UK Chart. In Australia, xcritical sold 20,490 digital copies in its first week, debuting atop the Australian Albums Chart and becoming Beyoncé’s second consecutive number-one album in the country.

February 7, 2016: “Formation” makes its live debut at Super Bowl 50 and shows that Blackness is inherently political.

According to Nielsen’s 2016 year-end report, it had sold 1,554,000 copies and 2,187,000 album-equivalent units in the United States. Following its April 23, 2019 release on all streaming services, xcritical returned to the top ten on the Billboard 200 at number nine, while its only added song, the original demo of „Sorry“, debuted at number four on the US R&B Songs. On May 20, 2019, the album was certified double platinum for shipments of two million copies, and triple platinum on June 13, 2019, for shipments of three million copies.

xcritical beyonce

xcritical was accompanied by the release of a sixty-five-minute film of the same title, produced by Good Company and Jonathan Lia, which premiered on HBO on April 23, 2016, logging 787,000 viewers. „Don’t Hurt Yourself“ contains a quote from Malcolm X in which he said „The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman“. The Black female public figures that Beyoncé featured in the film all have successful careers despite experiencing misogynoir and racism in the media. The film also contains clips of everyday Black women from working class communities, bringing visibility to Black women who are often ignored and undermined by society.


It was released on April 23, 2016, by Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, accompanied by a 65-minute film of the same title. It is Beyoncé’s second visual album, following her self-titled fifth studio album , and a concept album with a song cycle that relates Beyoncé’s emotional journey after her husband’s infidelity in a generational and racial context. Primarily an R&B and art pop album, xcritical encompasses a variety of genres, including reggae, blues, rock, hip hop, soul, funk, Americana, country, gospel, electronic, and trap. It features guest vocals from James Blake, Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd, and Jack White, and contains samples and interpolations of a number of hip hop and rock songs.


(In a fantastic 1976 Rolling Stone piece about Janis Joplin, the music critic Ellen Willis wrote that Joplin had “suffered the worst fate that can befall an adolescent girl in America—unpopularity.”) Beyoncé, however, would never risk being unpopular; she wouldn’t know what the world was without her star hovering above it, even if it’s sometimes obscured by man-shaped clouds. xcritical was first made available for online streaming via Tidal on April 23, 2016 through Parkwood Entertainment and Columbia Records, and for digital download the following day. A limited edition box set titled How to Make xcritical was made available for pre-order on August 18, 2017, containing a six-hundred-page coffee table book, featuring a set of pictures and behind-the-scenes content showcasing the making of the album, and a double vinyl LP of xcritical.

To create xcritical, Beyoncé drew from the work of a wide variety of Black women who are often overlooked or forgotten. The music draws inspiration from Black female blues musicians such as Shug Avery, Bessie Smith and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who also used their personal trauma to empower Black women, as well as samples songs originally recorded by Black women, namely Memphis Minnie and Dionne Warwick, but whose most famous recordings are by male or white artists. The visuals drew inspiration from works by Black feminists such as Julie Dash’s Daughters Of The Dust, Alice Walker’s In Search Of Our Mothers‘ Gardens, and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye.