Photo credit: RH, RV & AW
Remember “03 Bonnie and Clyde”? Yes, this is when we were first introduced to Mr. and Mrs. Carter. Now fifteen years later, with a story to still tell, we have the Carter’s 2018 Everything Is Love album. With a surprise June summer release (in typical Bey and Jay fashion) the album came on the heels of their five-month On The Run II tour, which will wrap up in early October.
Deemed as hip hop royalty, XXL Magazine described the project as “very much for the culture.” Take the lead single “Ape Shit” (produced by super producer Pharell Williams) for example, this is an instant hype builder laced with Beyoncé resilience and Jay-Z swagger, as the chorus booms “Have you ever seen a crowd go ape sh*t!” They keep up the cocky tempo on “Boss” where Beyoncé boasts: “Ain’t anything to a real one!” And on the jazzy “713” taking a sample from Dr. Dre’s “Still Dre”, she confidently belts:“Representin’ for the hustler’s all across the world / still drippin in my low low’s girrrrrl”.
Elsewhere on the bass booming track, Jay-Z channels a line from Common’s 2000 hit single “Light” spitting: “Never knew a lo-love love like this / Queen, it’s gotta be something for me to write this.” Essentially this proud boastful attitude is what the two as a dynamic duo have come to be known for. We know they can make hits. Yet, you get the feeling throughout the album that they are still trying to convince everyone in the room that they are still the coolest of the cool and the best of the best…a little too much.
The highlights ironically come on the most reflective tracks about love and life, like
“Friends” as Jay-Z references the long-standing beef he had with rapper and good pal Kanye West over the last few years. “Love/Happy” is a treat, and is the most honest ballad of all, a smooth mid-tempo flow describing the couple’s two decades of ups and downs in a tenured highly publicized relationship, but also confessing their unconditional love that still remains between them. “Summer” is nice enough but is average at best. The theme sounds like a typical Yonce’ track with her crooning and sometimes over singing. The track “Black Effect” fits in nicely. Giving the collection a bit of variety and an original type of flavor. “Nice” is a safe joint, that Jay-Z spews pretty solid verses on, but the flow doesn’t really seem to fit his style so it comes off as uncharacteristically forced.
All in all, though there are few guest appearances on Everything Is Love, with the exception of Ty Dolla Sign and Pharell (who also pops up on “Nice”). The production is stellar throughout the album. The LP features contributions from The Migos, The Neptunes, Mike Dean, Cool and Dre and even Jay-Z himself. By and large, this is a solid album. However, like previously stated, at times the rhetoric seems to be somewhat overcompensated. Unlike past collaborations between these two that you can still rock out to like “Déjà vu”, “Crazy In Love”, and “Upgrade U”. Nothing of that caliber graces this project but overall it’s not a bad piece of work. Then again, when do Jay-Z and Beyoncé ever really make bad music? Collectively or individually? The answer is: pretty much never.