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Beyoncé releases seventh album, 'Renaissance'

Beyoncé‚, performing at San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy on July 18, 2016 as part of The Formation World Tour.
Mondadori Portfolio
Mondadori Portfolio/Archivio Mar
Beyoncé‚, performing at San Siro Stadium in Milan, Italy on July 18, 2016 as part of The Formation World Tour.

Beyoncé's long-awaited and highly anticipated seventh studio album, Renaissance, is now available for the world to hear. The 16-song LP marks her first solo album in 6 years, following the pivotal visual album Lemonade. Critics, including NPR Music's Sidney Madden and Ann Powers, have said of previews that Renaissance signifies a musical evolution for the global superstar.

Renaissance includes guest features from Grace Jones, Tems and BEAM, as well as a variety of credits from heavy hitters in the music industry, including several from The-Dream, a collaborator on the megahit "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and producer Mike Dean, and features from Drake and Raphael Saadiq.

On her website, Beyoncé wrote of Renaissance, "This three act project was recorded over three years during the pandemic. A time to be still but also a time I found to be the most creative," an indication that the new release is the first of three parts.

Last month, she surprise dropped a single from the record, "BREAK MY SOUL," an energetic track rooted in dance music influences, featuring Big Freedia and sampling the 1990 diva house hit "Show Me Love" by Robin S.

"Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized far too long," the statement on her website continues.

In typical Bey fashion, not too many details about the album were disclosed more than a week ahead of its release. She took to social media to update the world on the project, including its official announcement, which came after removing profile pictures across her social media pages.

Despite a proven ability to give the world exactly what Beyoncé wants when Beyoncé wants to, no more and no less, the new album was leaked online just two days before its release; some fans alleged that they'd seen the CD for sale early in media stores in France and the Netherlands.

She addressed the leak, and the backlash from patient fans it received on social media, in a post just ahead of the album's actual release, writing: "I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early ... we are going to take our time and enjoy the music." To that end, and the album is initially being released without videos, in contrast to the visual-heavy releases of Lemonade in 2016 and the self-titled album in 2013.

"My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment," Beyoncé's statement on her website reads. "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."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ashley Pointer
Ashley Pointer is a news assistant for NPR Music.