She’s done it again. A whole year after her record breaking, critically acclaimed 2018 Coachella performance, Beyoncé has decided to snatch our edges as soon as they’ve grown back – as she always does. The Queen joined forces with Netflix to bless us with Homecoming, a documentary featuring her iconic festival show and in depth behind the scenes footage of what it took to put it all together. We also received Homecoming: The Live Album, complete with a brand new cover of one of the most iconic songs in Black culture (more on this later).
While there are tons of points I could make about the show and this wonder of a woman, the most striking thing is its Blackness…oh, its beautiful Blackness! Now I’ve seen a lot of Black things in my 25 years of Blackness, but Beychella might be the Blackest thing I’ve ever witnessed…and I’ve never missed a BET Awards and have sat through The Cookout 2.
Here’s a ranking of the moments that turned one of the world’s whitest events into the Blackest spectacle I’ve ever seen:
10. When Things Got Nice and Stanky
Beyoncé flipping the second half of “Single Ladies” into a New Orleans-style celebration during live performances is nothing new to the Hive. But her telling Coachella’s flower-crown-filled-crowd to make things “nice and stanky” like we do down south threw Southern Blackness all over the California desert. Representation matters!
9. When Beyoncé Reminded Us That She Was The First Black Woman To Headline Coachella
“Coachella, thank you for allowing me to be the first Black woman to headline Coachella. Ain’t that bout a bitch?”
Call ’em out, Bey! Translation: “How is it 2018, and this is JUST now happening? Y’all oughta be shame.”
8. When She Explained Why The Show Was So Black
In an interlude, Beyoncé explains her admiration for and growing up in the atmosphere of HBCUs (historically black colleges/universities) and her dream of always wanting to attend one, their “limitless swag” being the main inspiration for the show’s artistic direction. She basically told us, “Yes, this show is Black because it’s supposed to be!”
7. Fraternities, Majorettes, and Drumlines, Oh My!
I didn’t attend an HBCU, but I recognize traces of them on account of my Blackness. Bey gave us a whole School Daze-esque pledge skit, steppers, real HBCU majorette dancers, and presented her very own drumline. Due to the rise in racial tensions in recent years, studies have shown that the HBCU enrollment rate has increased. It turns out that Beyoncé’s representation of HBCU culture has also helped spark a new interest in enrollment. Even people like me who attended PWIs (predominately white institutions) are like, “Dang, I should’ve gone to an HBCU!” Beyoncé, her power!
**This is not intended to spark the PWI vs. HBCU debate. Argue with Sallie Mae, not me.**
6. When She Included The Greats
The documentary is littered with quotes from iconic Black figures (mostly women), such as Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Audre Lorde, and W.E.B. DuBois, as well as voice overs and messages from Nina Simone and Maya Angelou. An excerpt of Malcolm X’s famous “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself” speech is included into the performance of “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Beyoncé has never been shy about asserting herself as a Black feminist, and the inclusion of each of these figures’ particular words and works was beautifully strategic and intentional, saying, “I’m Black, I’m a woman, and this is my experience.”
5. When She Sampled An Iconic Black Song On A Cover Of Another Iconic Black Song, Automatically Creating One Of The Blackest Songs Ever
Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” and Cameo’s “Candy” both have secured spots in the Electric Slide and Black Family Cookout hall of fame. Merging the two is pure Black excellence. Nothing more, nothing less.
4. When She Entered Looking Like Queen Nefertiti To The Tunes Of Blackness
The first thought I had watching Bey and her dancers enter the stage in black and gold Egyptian inspired ensembles to the brassy sounds of New Orleans funk was, “Omg, this is so Black!” This was followed by majorette routines to “Clique” and “Family Feud,” two hip-hop songs about flexing your hard fought for accomplishments and wealth with your equally successful companions and the need for unity in the Black community. The show’s theme was established from the jump.
3. When She Mashed “Crazy in Love” With “Back That Azz Up”
Any millennial Black woman is going to act foolish upon hearing, “Cash Money taking over for the 99 and the 2000’s.” Pairing the greatest ratchet turn up anthem of all time with Bey’s iconic “uh oh” twerk was a Blickety-Black-Black decision. Well done, Bey.
2. When She Transitioned From “Drunk in Love” Into “Swag Surfin”
Here, Bey uses another HBCU staple to get the crowd hype. You know that stereotype that says when one Black person runs, we all run? The same can be said for swag surfin. When one surfs we all surf, and it’s probably the only experience 80% of us will ever have with surfing.
1. When She Incorporated “Lift Every Voice and Sing”
It doesn’t get any Blacker than performing the Black National Anthem at one of the country’s whitest events. Watching the documentary footage of Blue Ivy singing it as her mother fed her the lyrics brought back THE most intense memories of my own mama making sure we learned the lyrics as kids and being forced to sing it every Sunday during February at church…and at every Black event I ever attended in college.
Moments like these accomplished the very thing Bey set out to do: display our culture and celebrate it in a way she felt the world needed see it. And believe me, Mrs. Carter; we took notes and governed ourselves accordingly.
X’s and O’s,