For the BeyHive, 2013 was filled with an abundance of greatness. From an electrifying Super Bowl halftime show to the magical aura of “The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour,” there wasn’t anything that could top it—or so we thought.
On Dec. 13, 2013, Beyoncé slyly posted on Instagram with the caption, “Surprise!”—revealing a brand new, self-titled album with 14 songs and 17 videos. As she had the audacity to jokingly post about vegan cupcakes the same night, the world was in a standstill.
As the star’s public persona turns more mysterious, her artistry continues to cement deeper, more profound statements and “BEYONCÉ” truly kickstarted this. Themes of imperfection, liberation, feminism and motherhood sequences the entirety of the album—making it her most introspective venture at the time.
The seductive flow of “Partition,” the Prince-esque feeling of “Blow” and the soulful, yet sensual “Rocket” all play a role in her heightened sense of empowerment. On the other hand, the vulnerability of “Mine” mentions uncertainties about being a new mother and the power-ballad “Jealous” delves into broken promises.
As sonically dynamic as the project is, the small, personal touches stamps its authenticity. The sound clip of Ed McMahon introducing “the hip-hop rappin’ Girls Tyme” at the beginning of “***Flawless” launches the inner determination that’s always been with Beyoncé even as a young girl on Star Search. The smashing of childhood trophies shown in the “Pretty Hurts” video reflects her realization that all the popularity and recognition from stardom doesn’t define her worth, which is shown further in “Blue”—dedicated to her daughter.
“BEYONCÉ” not only changed the scope of the music industry with release dates being on Friday instead of Monday, but more importantly, it reinforced the immersive experience that albums should give us—drifting away from the current, less meaningful single-driven mindset.
Pop music should be treated as an event and nobody values this sentiment more than the Queen herself. No prior announcement. No promotion. No hype. Just the experience.
“good kid, m.A.A.d city”—Kendrick Lamar (2012)
“good kid, m.A.A.d city” was released in 2012, and was one of many influential albums of Lamar’s musical career. You could choose any of his albums to represent the best of 2010’s, like “To Pimp a Butterfly,” “Section.80,” or even “DAMN.”
Lamar’s tracks is this album released a multitude of emotions, fragmenting on his troubled childhood. He came from a troubled place with certain experiences, letting all that out in this masterpiece. Lamar—also dubbed K.Dot—created stardom in his debut album that shaped his future career. In September, this project finally snapped Eminem’s “The Eminem Show,” which spent 357 consecutive weeks on the Billboard 200 for becoming the longest charting hip hop album in history.
“Awaken, My Love!”—Childish Gambino (2016)
“Daylight, I wake up feeling like you won’t play right, I used to know, but now that sh*t don’t feel right, It made me put away my pride, So long.”
The quote above is from the song “Redbone” off the hit 2016 album, “Awaken, My Love!” by Childish Gambino. When this track—and the entire album for that matter—dropped in 2016, it was hard to not hear this song or see Donald Glover’s face everywhere. Either you remember this song as a Childish Gambino fan, or you remember it from the slightly terrifying Apple Music commercial that featured the song, along with a creepy alien emoji that lip synced it. Either way, iconic.
Released in 2016, “ANTI” is possibly Rihanna’s last album. It’s different from her previous albums, which have been filled with dance hits. With favorites like “Kiss It Better,” “Love On The Brain” and “Work (feat. Drake),” this album captures the essence of her passion, lyricism and vocal range.
In the first week of December, “ANTI” became the first album by a black female to spend 200 weeks on the Billboard 200. The 2010’s have been the decade of Rihanna, and “ANTI” concludes a series of distinguished records from the Barbadian singer.
The Sagebrush Staff can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.