Beyoncé’s new album “Renaissance” is consciously steeped in dance music history, subtly blending samples and sounds from decades: 1970s Donna Summer and Chic discos, Jamaican ballrooms, internet hyper-pop. She chose collaborators, references, and even specific keyboard sounds to pay homage to the club’s memory while delivering her own 21st century manifesto. Here are some of the sources she celebrates, and an exploration of what they mean.
The second and third tracks of the album, “Comfortable” and “Alien Superstar” Written and produced by Chicago-born house music DJ and producer Honey Dijon. “Cozy” also includes writing credits to Curtis Alan Jones, known as Cajmere or Green Velvet – one of Chicago’s greatest producers of house music.
The locale is the key here. Chicago is the birthplace of house music, and Chicago house in particular is often accentuated with very distinct swing dance and staccato bass patterns with octave jumps. A prime example is Adonis’ 1986 “No Way Back,” and “Cozy”‘s bass line is like its inversion. The song is almost mnemonically identifiable as an early Chicago home, rather than just sounding like an homage.
In “Alien Fest,” the hook’s rhythm (“I’m too classy for this world/Forever I’ll be that girl”) owes much to the interpolation of Right Said Fred’s dance floor novelty blockbuster “I’m Too Sexy.” Taylor Swift borrowed the same part (also credits) on her 2017 track “Look What You Made Me Do”, while Drake sampled 1992’s “Way Too Sexy” from 2021. song.
There is another direct callback “cuff”: The bass line is instantly recognisable as a descendant from Bernard Edwards’ monster riff on Chic’s “Good Times,” which hit number one in 1979, and Edwards’ partner in Chic, Nile Rodgers, is credited with writing and playing it here. Acclaimed for playing the guitar. (Bass and drums: Raphael Saadiq.) As Ken Barnes noted in his liner notes “The Disco Years Roll.” 4: Lost in Music”, a Rhino Records compilation, rewriting Chic became a national pastime in the early 1980s, especially through early hip-hop and post-disco R&B. This version of One, two, three (break) Like the original, thanks to the many “good times” rewrites: “Rapper’s Delight” by Sugarhill Gang and “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” by Vaughn Mason, for example.
“vitality” Featuring the writing and production of Skrillex, an early 2010s EDM festival superstar known for his drops — a dramatic build that turns into a new beat — but since his heyday, he has Most of the time works behind the scenes. (See Justin Bieber’s 2015 blockbuster “Where Are Ü Now,” with Diplo.) It’s taut minimalism with the softest layers of double bass.
The song was also composed for Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the songwriting and production duo Neptune best known for collaborating with numerous singers and rappers from the 1990s onwards. On Thursday, ahead of the release of “Renaissance,” singer-songwriter Kelly took to social media to say the credits came from a sample of one of her songs (which turned out to be an episode of 2003’s “Milkshake”), and She was not allowed to use it. Kelis wasn’t a well-known writer or producer on most of her early albums with the Neptunes, nor was she credited on “Milkshake”. In a 2020 interview with The Guardian, she said she had signed the pair when she was “too young and too stupid to double-check”.
A similar situation occurred with the album’s lead single, “Break my soul,” This is thanks to the core Korg theme in Robin S.’s popular song “Show Me Love.” But it was initially unclear whether her 1992 remix was sampled, and the credits changed during the song’s first week of release. (The latest version says Beyoncé’s song “contains elements of “Show Me Love.”) The afterlife of the Robin S. song has been strong: its riffs appeared on Brooklyn producer AceMo’s 2019 “Where Are They?” ? ? ” features John FM, which became a major dance underground before and during the pandemic, as well as recent releases from Charli XCX and Daddy Yankee.
Another key to “Break My Soul” is the exhortation (“Unleash your swing!”) of New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia, which Beyoncé sampled earlier in “Formation” (2016). Bounce is a New Orleans-born dance genre with dizzyingly fast speeds, dense bass, and heavy calls and responses; twerking was born.
Beyonce looks back at the late ’90s again “Plastic on the sofa.” While much of the song is a rich digital ballad, it has a moment at the end that may come from “glitch” experimental electronica, where the tail end of a vocal run, heavily dubbed and deliberately audibly edited. It’s a creepy but mostly humorous hair-blink sound at the listener, an aspect of the high-tech production of modern pop music exposed. (For 90s examples, see Oval’s album “94diskont” or the 2000 compilation “Clicks + Cuts.”)
Classic Disco takes hold halfway through the album. “Virgo’s Groove” Featuring layers of undulating percussion, synths and bass, updated Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson’s production work – a accompaniment to goofy punk’s “lucky”. “move,” The next track includes a special by Grace Jones – Disco Royalty, just in case anyone wonders where Beyoncé might have come from.
As noticeable in “Move” — and even more so in “America Has a Problem” — the swarming low-end dubbed “Reese bass” in the dance world. The term refers to Reese’s 1988 record “Just Want Another Chance,” one of many aliases used by Kevin Saunderson, one of the first producers to use Detroit techno in the mid-’80s.
Just as “Chicago House” refers not only to a style and its birthplace, but also that wobbly octave, “Detroit Tech” tends to express attention to detail and a restless aura of invention. The foggy low-end of “Just Want Another Chance” is often repurposed in London’s bass music styles such as jungle, drum and bass, British garage and dubstep – what writer Simon Reynolds called the “hardcore serial of black British musicals” Body” takes root in the urban style of London’s Pirate Radio.
Beyoncé’s use of heavy, undulating Reese bass on “Move” and “America Has a Problem” further positions the album on the Black dance music continuum. “Problem” also opens with an orchestral, à la Afrika Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force’s signature electro-rap track “Planet Rock” — or, more aptly given the title and lyrical theme, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation.”
“heating” Beyoncé conducts on a tight wooden block-heavy groove in neo-ballroom form. At the end of the song, she mentions fingering the MPC, an instrument designed by Roger Linn that came out in 1988. Instead of being played with a keyboard, the MPC made by Akai has a grid of square pads that trigger different sounds, and it has become a widely used composition and performance tool.
“Fashion” It sounds like something from the pre-Skrillex days when dubstep dance floors were all over the place, when the subgenre’s expansive bass and variable beats were largely the domain of British producers. Sure enough, credit for writing and producing the song includes an artist influenced by these musicians: Chauncey Hollis Jr., aka Hit-Boy, on Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” (2011) Made a hit song with a dubstep style.
“Thique”‘s plasticine sound extends to heavier synths “It’s all in your head,” Co-produced by AG Cook, the main idea behind London label and arts collective PC Music, it emerged in the mid-2010s with a sound built on fashion exaggeration: not just a machine-music-style high pitch, but Squeak deliberately. (Producer Sophie, known for her uplifting hyper-pop music, comes from this camp.) “All Up” is futuristic robot pop with a bass line that seems to snorkel beneath the speakers rather than emanating from them. .
“pure/honey,” It’s followed by another sub-bass monster: the first, propelled by an obnoxious kick drum, is surprisingly close to the strictest of techno, or possibly the most “pure”. “Honey” appears at 2:11, a bulbous neo-disco groove with feathery horns reminiscent of early Sylvester. Part of the song is a sample of Kevin Aviance’s song, subtitled “The Feeling” – one of the key recordings of the queer house style known as “The Bitch Track.”
the last song of the album, “Summer Renaissance”, Beyoncé sings “Awesome, Awesome, Awesome, Awesome” in a very familiar pinball riff – yes, the ending inserts Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” the sound of 1977’s full-synth disco hit with the background and pulsing rhythm heralding the future of dance music. But the main melodic phrase in “I Feel Love” sounds like it’s playing on a Korg keyboard that anchors “Break My Soul,” subtly linking the two eras into a third.