Music News

Music News

Music News

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 05: Beyoncé accepts Best Dance/Electronic Music Album for “Renaissance” onstage during the 65th GRAMMY Awards at Crypto.com Arena on February 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California.

If you listen closely enough, you might recognize some hidden messages in Beyonce’s Cowboy Carter. While Beyoncé’s eighth studio album is a masterclass in sampling, vocal construction, and paying homage to music icons, it is also a history lesson that displays the singer’s pure intentions behind the project.

Beyoncé’s Inspiration Behind Cowboy Carter

Beyoncé made it clear in a social media post that this is “not a country album, it’s a Beyoncé album.” Like the first act of Renaissance, the features, sampling, and historical context are displayed with intention throughout.

“My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant,” Beyoncé writes after thanking fans for the support of her singles “16 Carriages” and “Texas Hold ‘Em” with the latter debuting at No. 1 on the Country chart.

“This album has been over five years in the making. It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t,” seemingly referring to the backlash she received performing with the Dixie Chicks at the Country Music Awards, which happened in 2016.

“But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive. It feels good to see how music can unite so many people around the world, while also amplifying the voices of some of the people who have dedicated so much of their lives educating on our musical history.”

She continued: “The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work. I have a few surprises on the album, and have collaborated with some brilliant artists who I deeply respect. I hope that you can hear my heart and soul, and all the love and passion that I poured into every detail and every sound.

“I focused on this album as a continuation of RENAISSANCE…I hope this music is an experience, creating another journey where you can close your eyes, start from the beginning and never stop,” she adds, mentioning her Grammy-winning first act.

She ends her message by declaring: “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé album.'”

Beyoncé wrote that message to her fans ten days before Cowboy Carter was released. Ever since the album dropped, fans have been exploring some of the coincidences in it and the historical context behind the songs. Take a look below at some hidden messages that you might have missed:

  • Why Did Beyoncé Name The Album 'Cowboy Carter'?

    The title of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter in retrospect makes sense: cowboys are associated with the south and western culture — making a nod to her home city of Houston. The “Carter” part of the name is also associated with her married name as her husband, Jay-Z’s birth name is Shawn Carter, and she legally changed her name to hyphenate it with her maiden name, Knowles-Carter. However, it’s possible that using the Carter name in the title could be a reference to the First Family of Country Music. The act consisted of a father and his two daughters (A.P. Carter, Sara Carter, and Maybelle Carter). Maybelle was known to have created the “Carter lick” on the guitar which has since been a staple guitar sound in country music. While the family was white, and Beyoncé is making a statement by highlighting and honoring Black country music artists, the Carter family is said to have learned from a Black man, Lesley Riddle, who taught the patriarch of the family blues and gospel songs as well as his techniques. He also taught A.P.’s daughters as Maybelle credited Riddle with teaching her the “bottleneck” style of guitar picking.

  • Alligator Tears

    While the popular phrase is “crocodile tears” you might be wondering why Beyoncé chose to name the track “Alligator Tears.” First, alligators are native to Louisiana where her mother Tina Knowles is from, so it is a nod to her maternal side of the family. She also has a song on the album already called “Oh Louisiana,” which appears as the 21st track on the project. This is not the first time Beyoncé has paid homage to her Louisiana roots. She notably sings about her heritage in “Formation,” the lead single to her 2016 Grammy-winning album Lemonade. “My daddy Alabama, momma Louisiana, You mix that negro with that Creole, make a Texas bama.”

  • Whitney Houston Reference

    Tracks 8-11 are “Bodyguard,” “Dolly P,” with the 11th track being Beyonce’s cover of “Jolene.” “Bodyguard” is the name of the film where Houston covers Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.” Following “Bodyguard” is “Dolly P,” giving the original creator a shout-out and then leading to Beyoncé’s cover of “Jolene” as the 11th track. We love the intention behind this.

  • Levii's Jeans

    While Levi’s jeans are a cowboy staple -specifically their iconic 501s- but in this case, the song has a double meaning. It is to be believed that Beyoncé chose to name the Post Malone assisted track “Levii’s Jeans” in a way to honor the denim designer. When Beyoncé was on her path to stardom with Destiny’s Child, designer labels didn’t want to dress “four Black country curvy girls” but Levis did. Destiny’s Child, which at the time included Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams in the early 2000s, they were the faces of Levi’s “Low Rise Jeans” campaign. Beyoncé spoke about the struggle of finding designers to dress her in her 2016 CFDA Style Icon Award acceptance speech. “Starting out in Destiny’s Child, high-end labels didn’t really want to dress four black country curvy girls (referring to herself, Rowland, LeToya Luckett, and LaTavia Roberson as the starting four), and we couldn’t afford designer dresses and couture. My mother was rejected from every showroom in New York. But like my grandmother, she used her talent and her creativity to give her children their dreams. My mother and my uncle, God rest his soul, made all of our first costumes, individually sewing hundreds of crystals and pearls, putting so much passion and love into every small detail.”

  • Linda Martell Show

    Beyoncé pays tribute to several unsung Black country stars on the album. Linda Martell was the first Black country star to perform at the Grand Ole Opry, but that’s not the only reason Martell is heard on the album and has a song named after her. Another part of Martell’s story is that after she made a name for herself in the R&B and soul space before transitioning to country music, she was faced with racism, which made it difficult for her to excel in the genre. When Beyoncé announced her album cover, she wrote a heartfelt message on how she also felt unwanted in the genre, which inspired her to create Cowboy Carter.

    “This album has been over five years in the making,” Beyoncé wrote on Instagram. “It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t. But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive. It feels good to see how music can unite so many people around the world, while also amplifying the voices of some of the people who have dedicated so much of their lives educating on our musical history.

  • Blackbiird

    Beyoncé covered The Beatles’ “Blackbird.” The Renaissance creator used this song to usher in four rising Black women country stars. Sir Paul McCartney praised Beyoncé for her rendition of the song.

    “I am so happy with @beyonce’s version of my song ‘Blackbird'” McCartney wrote on Instagram with a throwback photo of him and Beyoncé. “I think she does a magnificent version of it and it reinforces the civil rights message that inspired me to write the song in the first place. I think Beyoncé has done a fab version and would urge anyone who has not heard it yet to check it out. You are going to love it!”

  • What is the Chitlin' CIrcuit?

    When Beyoncé announced the tracklist for Cowboy Carter, the title of the announcement read “Cowboy Carter and the Rodeo Chitlin’ Circuit.” The chitlin circuit is a network of venues where Black musicians in the segregation era could safely perform. Some notable artists that performed that the Chitlin Circuit were Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Ray Charles, Duke Ellington, and more.

    Dr. Steven Lewis, former curator for the National Museum of African American Music, told USA Today in 2021 of the Chitlin Circuit, “You really don’t have the story of so many of these musicians without understanding the African-American entertainment world that was grounded in the Black community. That’s where so many of the artists that we celebrate in the museum got their start.”

    The name Chitlin Circuit derives from the southern dish of “chitlins” or “chitterlings,” which are pig intestines that are boiled then fried.

    While the Chitlin Circuit later died out in the ’60s and ’70s due to urban renewal projects and an increase in television viewership in the ’70s. The beginnings of Black icons are being remembered through Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter.

    The History Behind Beyoncé's 'Chitlin' Circuit' Reference

    The tracklist for Beyoncé's new album refers to the chitlin circuit

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