Beyoncé loves to play with her Beyhive. Never one to give too much away, she communicates through clues, leaving little breadcrumbs for loyal fans to pick up. Here’s everything we know so far about her first solo album in seven years, Renaissance.
It’s primarily a dance record
In British Vogue’s cover interview with the Queen, editor-in-chief Edward Enninful became one of the very first people to experience the new album, describing “soaring vocals and fierce beats” that transported him “back to the clubs of his youth” in the late ’80s and ’90s. The accompanying shoot represented a sort of club kid fantasia, referencing the ’70s (the cover is a nod to Bianca Jagger’s much-imitated Studio 54 arrival on horseback), plus the “1990s garage scene [and] ’80s excess”. Expect parallel notes of “retro-futurism” in “music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul”.
The date is set — although there’s a chance you might hear it earlier
First announced through Tidal, Renaissance will drop on 29 July – the first time since 2013’s self-titled visual album that Beyoncé has given advance warning of a release. The record’s first single, “Break My Soul”, was expected to premiere on 21 June at midnight EST, but actually dropped three hours earlier on Tidal. Could the same happen for the full album?
“Break My Soul” is a taste of what’s to come
The sixth track on the album, “Break My Soul” uses two samples: the ‘90s house classic “Show Me Love” by Robin S, and Big Freedia’s bounce anthem “Explode”. It was produced by The-Dream (who helped create three of Beyoncé’s biggest hits, “Single Ladies”, “Partition” and “Flawless”) while Jay-Z is credited as a writer. With rumours that Honey Dijon has produced at least two tracks, we’re sure to get more house music that proudly calls on its Black queer roots. And with Beyoncé’s mysterious Renaissance box sets each named “Pose” – from Pose 1 to Pose 4 – expect more tracks to vogue the house down to as well.
There’s 16 tracks – with even more to come
The Beyhive sleuths were the first to discover that on Apple Music, the husk of the Renaissance album page contained 16 unnamed tracks, again confirmed on its iTunes pre-order page. But as Beyoncé’s announcement named Renaissance as “act i”, that may only be the start, with rumours swirling that a double album is on its way.
The dates are meaningful
“Break My Soul” was intentionally released to align with the summer solstice on 21 June and mark the start of a “new era with new anthems”, as reported by Pitchfork. But there is another meaningful date the song release coincides with: Bey’s earth-shaking debut album Dangerously In Love came out on 20 June 2003, through which she quickly became the Queen of both pop and R&B, and dabbled in country and rap. Looks like she might be closing that chapter and taking over as the Queen of dance imminently.
The album took two years of sleepless nights
Enninful describes how “the creation has been a long process… with the pandemic giving her far longer to spend thinking and rethinking every decision”. Her mother Tina Knowles confirmed in an Entertainment Tonight interview that Beyoncé put “two years of love” into the record, with “many many nights, all night working”.
She’s set to break new frontiers, again
Beyoncé invented the visual album with Beyoncé (although arguably she did so even earlier, with her 2006 album B’Day, for which she released a DVD with videos for all 13 tracks). It looks like this time her sights are set on pioneering new musical experiences through virtual reality, too. She is reported to be working with the Jay-Z-backed Spatial Labs, which builds technology for the metaverse, and The Wave, which creates live interactive and immersive musical experiences.
CreditLead image: Mason Poole via Getty Images