The Beyhive are gatekeeping the Renaissance leak

As they should! There's only one more sleep until the dawn of a new Beyoncé era.

by Douglas Greenwood and Jenna Mahale
|
28 July 2022, 9:00am

In just one day, Beyoncé is blessing us with her first full-length album in over half a decade, titled Renaissance. The star has shared the full tracklist, which includes all of the record’s writing and production credits and a couple of legendary features with Grace Jones, Drake, Pharrell Williams and Nile Rogers all in the mix.

The last time we were given a straight-to-the-point Beyoncé album was six years ago, when she dropped the visual masterpiece Lemonade back in 2016. Since then, she’s returned for standalone singles (“Be Alive” from King Richard), compilation albums (The Lion King: The Gift) and collaborations with her husband Jay-Z (Everything is Love). But a considered, full length record with one voice at the helm? We’ve been gasping for that for what feels like forever. Thankfully, that’s what Renaissance promises.

Bey recently performed the ultimate ‘pop star is coming’ flex: by deleting her profile pictures from of every social media account, making her verified profiles temporarily resemble bot accounts. For an artist as image-focused as Beyoncé (she is pretty much everything-focused at this point), it’s a statement in itself: a clean slate, making way for something new.

On Friday 1 July the artist revealed the album’s cover, a Lady Godiva-esque image featuring a mostly-naked Bey riding side-saddle on a horse made of… electricity? We’ll take it. In a note accompanying the cover art, Beyoncé writes, “Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving.”

She continues: “My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration. I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are.” Here’s everything we know about the record so far.

What is the new album called?

The record is called act i RENAISSANCE. This also suggests it will be the first of a potential staggered several-part release. Maybe God is real?

What will Renaissance sound like?

In a new British Vogue cover story, Edward Enninful describes having the album played to him. “Instantly, a wall of sound hits me. Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core.”

He continues, describing “music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul.” Edward adds, “As ever with Beyoncé, it is all about the intent.” Never mind that, are you ready to have Beyoncé touch your soul?

Wait, it leaked already?

All hell broke loose yesterday when a French fan discovered that CD copies of Renaissance had been put on shelves early. Variety reported that “high quality flac files” that “certainly sound like the album” ended up on the internet approximately 36 hours before it was due to release. Beyoncé’s dedicated Beyhive fanbase immediately sprung to action, mass reporting any accounts they saw spreading the leaks. Of course, the temptation was a little too much for some.

“It’s been six years,” reads one fan post admonishing early, illegal listeners obtained by TMZ. “Two more days, only 30 hours left to wait and Y’ALL CAN’T DO IT ?!?!” The post continues: “You will get blocked, you will be reported, you will be dealt with.” We’ve been warned!

What’s on the track list?

The album’s track list features a total of 16 songs. The longest of track on the record is said to be “Virgo’s Groove”, which runs for a club-friendly total of 6 minute 8 seconds. Song titles like “Church Girl”, “Alien Superstar” and “Thique” are a few of our personal favourites, whilst “America Has A Problem” is intriguing. Which problem are you talking about Bey? There’s too many to chose from. You can have a read of the full track list below for yourself.

Are any other artists featured on Renaissance?

Last night Beyoncé shared an Instagram Reel of gloved hands opening and shuffling through the artwork on and inside the vinyl record covers for Renaissance and quick-fingered fans managed to screenshot the fleeting moment we see the tracklist on the album. The song “Energy”, for instance, promises it will feature Beam, a dancehall artist who has previously written for Justin Bieber and Kanye West. Then there’s “Move”, that has legendary 80s pop star Grace Jones’s name listed next to it, alongside Tems, an R&B artist who has also worked with Justin Bieber and was featured on Drake’s song “Foundations”. Grace’s inclusion on the album, though, suggests that we’re going to get more hits inspired by 80s club anthems and the NYC ball scene like “Break My Soul”.

Other’s involved in the album behind-the-scenes includes Jay-Z (of course) and Bey’s go-to The Dream, who worked along with Drake on the song “Heated”. The two are currently in similar eras with the latter also exploring house music on his recently released Honestly, Nevermind. Pharrell Williams and Skrillex are both credited on the song “Energy” whilst architect of Disco, Nile Rogers, was involved in “Cuff It”. It’s been rumoured there’s some sampling of 70s artists too, like Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder. Finally, oft-Charli XCX collaborator A.G. Cook’s name appears in the credits of “All Up In Your Mind”, suggesting there may be some PC sounds on the record. Does that mean Beyoncé is dipping her toe in the hyperpop arena? We’re not ready.

Who shot the Renaissance artwork?

Carlijn Jacobs, a photographer based between London and Paris.

When is the release date for Renaissance?

The record is slated for release on 29 July this year.

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Beyoncé