Jay Ray | @jayrayisthename
Beyoncé was always going to have a rough road winning the hearts of people. When Destiny’s Child emerged, she was the lightest in skin tone of the four girls (colorism is real in the Black community), she had long flowing weave and she was always out front. They had group drama that resulted in turning 3 members in less than a year. Her father managed her group, so it was a definite that Beyoncé was going to go solo. The question was “when?”
In 2002, when that finally happened, it wasn’t a sure thing that it would work. Even though her first single “Work It Out” hit #1 on the US Dance charts, it peaked at #104 on the US R&B charts and didn’t chart at all on the Billboard Hot 100. Beyoncé was going to have to work for it.
Work she did. Her debut, Dangerously In Love, sold like a meteor.
I didn’t pay attention to Beyoncé much after that. The occasional single would make it into my ear somehow, and I’d bop along to it, but I’d return to whatever “underground,” “real,” “dope” thing I was listening to.
In 2011, she used the track for a song I loved and sang a song I didn’t love over it. That song was was “Run The World (Girls),” and the song it was based on is the massive jam “Pon de Floor.” I hated it, and paid attention to her in an effort to debunk her every move. Well … that was short lived. During the Billboard Awards that year, Beyonce, a solid 15 years into her stardom, proceeded to perform intricate choreography to a video that included 100 Beyoncé images. Then some insane number of dancers appeared on stage and seemed to be in lock step with her moves. I was amazed at how controlled her voice was as she sang and danced. She engaged the crowd in what would seem like an impossible circumstance.
Beyoncé made a choice early, apparently. Study the greats, silence the noise from the outside world, collaborate fluidly, move in silence, free yourself creatively, and master your craft.
In 2016, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter set the stage of the MTV Awards on fire. She not only commanded the live audience in the room, she engaged every single person watching TV with her performance. I can’t remember seeing anything so well pulled together to work for both people in a live space and people watching on television, at the same time.
Let’s be clear, at this point, she doesn’t have to work as hard as she does. She’s Beyoncé. She doesn’t even have to show up if she doesn’t want to. She not only shows up, she shows out every time. If even 10% of the people who idolize Beyonce actually decides to do the amount of work on their craft that she does, with the same level of seriousness, they just might be able to change the world.
#WorkLikeBeyonce. You’ll go far.
And then walk up behind Chance The Rapper and gave him a surprise big sister hug. #AllTheFeels :-)