by Jeremy Danté

“stripped of gimmicks, teasers and marketing campaigns, this project is truly about art before hype.” said columbia records at the stroke of midnight on friday the 13th of december, 2013. i received a text message which prompted me to hit the home button on my iphone, click the blue music note icon, where beyoncé was seen on every landing page banner in the upper kiosk of itunes. the words “exclusive visual album” stared me in the face. i went to grab my computer to download the album simultaneously into my music library to watch the 17 videos that were included in the album sequence. i was stunned, sending text messages, checking my instagram, making phone calls and re-tweeting columbia records- essentially, i was a marketing promoter for beyoncé in that moment. a facebook status, a tweet, an instagram post, make sure to ‘like’ the video preview that beyoncé posted. every and anything to get the word out- i was doing it. what beyoncé did is unprecedented. she dropped an album at the back end of the year, on a friday, with no promotional push, no interviews, no hints or rumors. and i recall speaking about no hype, just straight to execution.

beyoncé herself cites inspiration for the album as a personal vision. she speaks to the idea of investing in a full body of work, as oppose to just a single. her dialogue about the album creates an emotional attachment to when music was an ‘immersive’ experience. as an artist, beyoncé killed all industry expectations, breaking every rule in the book- releasing music that was direct to fans, and headlines are speculating that she will have moved a million units, come wednesday when billboard numbers from the following week are tallied. sources have also speculated that record executives did not support beyoncé’s urban direction, which is why it took so long for the album to see it’s release. despite the labels reservations, beyoncé allegedly took advice from her husband, shawn carter, rapper jay-z, which resulted in the power move of a surprise release.

a superstar poised beyond the potential we’ve seen with other millenial acts like michael jackson, janet jackson, madonna, britney spears, whitney houston and mariah carey- beyoncé has solidifed her place as an artist of influence. inspired thoroughly, and that inspiration showing it’s face in her latest project, ms. knowles-carter has raised the bar to unseen heights. moving a reported 80,000 albums in a span of just three hours, and a reported 430,000 albums in a span of twenty-four. the album is currently stalled at #1 in over 100 countries around the world, expecting to be received as the best opening week numbers of the year, not even having the advantage of selling a full seven days to amount to those astonishing statistics. what beyoncé did was mark a return to music, where artists hold the power of the content that they produce. an unforgettable journey of style, poise & excellent planning, the albums 17 videos rival some of the greatest visual works of all time, welcoming a slew of directorial, styling and creative talent.

while i’ll make no attempts at promoting one song or video more than the other, you’ll have to purchase the album to establish a free thought for yourself as far as what the album means for you. in production, lyrically, visually, emotionally- this is a new beyoncé. a beyoncé that has become more aware. aware in the sense of motherhood, relationships and art. presented here, to us as the audience, is a pure vision that was delivered in pure form. without a doubt the best album of the year, the method in which this body of work was delivered completely erases everything. every artists work is now put into question by beyoncé, a female who truly has learned the ways of the industry. to understand those ways, and then move past that understanding to break that shit down, completely. the deconstruction of industry politics, publicity rules and promotional fanfare were all an inside job at the hand of beyoncé, who holds a tenure of  16 years in the commercial industry of music. a true showing of genius that both re-establishes the foundation of art, creativity and integrity, not only of music; but of any great body of work. with her performances at the inauguration, the superbowl and her multi-million dollar pepsi endorsement deal, the year can now close properly now that us fans have a new album, complete with a stunning set of visuals. across genres, beyond aesthetics- this self titled album by beyoncé is a mark of showmanship and call to action for women. it represents breakage from the restraints that women of color suffer creatively in the music industry. and that alone is reason enough to give beyoncé every ounce of respect that she deserves as an artist of her caliber.

this is an installment of the sound vs. style music feature series
click here to view past artists featured