Does Beyonce’s New Album Sacrifice Quality for “Turnt Up” Music? : ThyBlackMan

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Does Beyonce’s New Album Sacrifice Quality for “Turnt Up” Music?

December 18, 2013 by  
Filed under Ent., Music, News, Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( Let me start off with a disclaimer: I am not a Beyonce fan, meaning I do not religiously follow her career or listen to her music. Though I don’t dislike Beyonce, I don’t keep up with her either. In high school, like every other black girl, I looooved me some “Get me Bodied” and “Irreplaceable” and I definitely wrote a letter to Destiny’s Child in elementary school, but I am older now.

No shade to DC (cause I still have my Writings on the Wall CD!) or Beyonce, but as I’ve gotten older my taste in music has changed. I’m not amused by a “banging beat,” but appreciate songs that actually have good and meaningful lyrical content. I stopped listening to Beyonce my freshman year in college (I Am..Sasha Fierce album); so, I don’t know much about her album 4 or current world tours (if she’s still doing them).

All disclaimers aside, I still wanted to add my 2 cents about her freshlybeyonce-new-album-2013 released, self-titled album. I’ve seen the news: On Dec. 13, Beyonce released her latest album exclusively on iTunes, and it’s complete with 14 songs and 17 videos.

With selling 617,000 copies in its first three days in the U.S., 828,773 worldwide, and soaring to no.1 in 104 countries, I’ve read many people’s commentary on how this was a genius marketing move by Beyonce, and how she’s changed the music industry game’s rules forever.

Yet, given the fact that you’re only able to purchase the entire album, as opposed to singles, I’ve also read people’s notions that this was a “force tactic”—a move made out of fear because if fans had the option to just purchase singles, the album, like 4, would’ve flopped.

Who knows? (And in my case, who cares?) I’m not very interested in Beyonce’s reasoning for dropping her album the way she did, but more so the album itself.

Because of the mixed reviews, I decided to listen to her album myself (well, sort of). I watched 30-second clips for each video/song, but I also watched and listened to the following in full (no I didn’t purchase the album, someone else did):

  • Yonce/Partition
  • Jealous
  • Drunk in Love
  • Flawless

With the exception of “Jealous,” I was surprised and very much turned off by what I heard. Why you may ask? Well, because quite a few tracks on Beyonce’s CD sound just like….everyone else.

I don’t listen to the radio, because let’s face it, music is just a mess nowadays. I mean honestly, it can hardly be called music at all.

A lot of these artists, especially rappers, have a “banging beat” and are just whining (Future) and spouting lyrics that make absolutely no sense (2 Chains). They’re making music people can bounce to in the club…and that’s pretty much it. The quality content within these songs is nonexistent.

It’s trash. I know it may sound harsh, but hear me out.

Artists are not producing real music nowadays. Nothing is timeless anymore.

Remember the old school songs from Luther Vandross, Chaka Khan, Whitney, Prince and so many others that transcend time? I’m talking:

 “you make me happy, this you can bet”

“aint nobody, loves me better”

“don’t make me close one more door, I don’t want to hurt anymore”

“here and now, I promise to love faithfully”

“until the end of time, I’ll be there for you…you own my heart and mind, I truly adore you”

Remember those songs? Yeah, today’s music doesn’t even hold a candle to them. The industry’s current version of “timeless” is “Strip clubs and dollar bills…I still got more money” and “started from the bottom now we’re here.”

Or in the case of “Partition”:

Driver roll up the partition please

Driver roll up the partition please

I don’t need you seeing ‘yonce on her knees

Took 45 minutes to get all dressed up

We ain’t even gonna make it to this club

Now my mascara running, red lipstick smudged

Oh he so horny, yea he want to f**k

He popped all my buttons, and he ripped my blouse

He Monica Lewinsky-ed all on my gown

It’s disconcerting. So, imagine my surprise when I hear a few Beyonce tracks and think, Is 2 Chains or Meek Mill about to pop out? Cause some of those songs definitely sound no different (or better) than the ignorance played day in and day out on the radio.

Today’s “hits” are tunes lacking lyrical content simply disguised with a “banging beat.” Does no one care anymore (even Beyonce) about actual lyrics as long as a “crazy” beat drops?

I digress.

When reading about her new album, I came across someone’s interesting comment. It read along these lines:

Where are the extremely successful black female artists that don’t have to be oversexualized in their videos or have sexually explicit lyrics to get record breaking sales? Although I commend Beyonce for having some positive songs on this album, overall, society says the only way a black female artist can have Taylor Swift’s type of sales is by selling “sex.”

This is an interesting point that fits perfectly into my disappointment upon hearing some of Beyonce’s newest songs. We are definitely in the era of “sex sells,” much more so than previous years. And in R&B and rap, it’s sex over “turn up” beats that sell. Lyrics with no depth; just two simple bars repeated over a 3-minute “banging beat.”

Most of these songs sound the same, and now it seems like Beyonce is following this new (and foolish) trend to sell albums. Last year it was electro-type beats and this year it’s been club bangers. And as society continues to push the limits on sex, raunchiness and oftentimes violent and demonic imagery—masking it as being “different” like Lady Gaga or a “creative genius” like Kanye—artists are creating what they try to call quality music to follow suit.

Sure, Beyonce has always been sexual, but never to the extreme of Lady Gaga or even Rhianna. But seeing some of the images in her new videos, you can’t help but think of the similarities to the icon award winner’s “Pour It Up” stripper-themed video. Raunchy, extremely sexual, low-quality lyrics…over a “banging beat.”

Is Beyonce, like many others, now more interested in making sure her fans “turn up” at the expense of producing quality music? Or, honestly, did she ever even produce quality music—lyrically speaking—and this new “Yonce” shouldn’t come as a surprise?

If you’ve listened to her album, what are your thoughts?

Staff Writer; Shala Marks


Service is her passion, writing is her platform, women and the Black Community are her avenues. Shala Marks is a writer, editor and soon-to-be author. Through her work, Marks aspires to demonstrate “The Craft of Writing, and the Art of Efficacy.” She has a B.A. in journalism from Arizona State University. Connect with her over at



22 Responses to “Does Beyonce’s New Album Sacrifice Quality for “Turnt Up” Music?”
  1. AJ says:

    @Jason stfu and stop worrying about the black community. Your opinion is irrelevant.

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  3. Jason says:

    As a white man, I totally disagree. Her music doesnt need to uplift anybody.
    This is a free country. Everyone can express themselves as they want too. She is an entertainer. Maybe if you want more role models in the black community, then start with family. Or listen to more white music (God forbid). Country music has great meaning. Quit living under a rock and realize white music could uplift a black culture and inspire kids when your own cultures music is garbage and wont.

  4. Lisa says:

    The reason why my post is a bit long is because I’m passionate about the continuos deterioration of our society specifically from an Afrocentrist perspective and I feel that we have been bamboozled and misrepresented by individuals such as Beyonce and most of us are too blinded by the talent and sheer spectacles that we fail to realize how all that power that we continue to give this human being is not being used to the benefit of our image and more important our mindsets. So keep dancing and listening to her non substantial lyrics and see how far we can elevate as a people….. I am not a ” hater” I just think people need to be more aware of who you give your power to. We keep making that mistake. Lets learn to stop!

    Blacks are too bedazzled by a certain lifestyle that we fail to realize the repurcussions of portraying this consumerist, dumb, partying, overly sexual personna has on our ability to evolve as a people. All the other nationalities who are far ahead of us from a socio- economic perspective are laughing as we continue to praise and give our money and power to celebrities that have nothing but their own selfish intentions in mind. remember that when you come to the rescue of these individuals who are not educating and building schools , taking political stances , spreading substantial concepts etc. Beyonce does none of the above. and yet we continue to act like she’s a God of some sort simply becaue she can put on a fantastic show. Really is that the criteria? Open you eyes!

    Let me first establish the fact that I have been a fan of Destiny’s Child and have followed Beyonce’s progresssion throughout her solo career. I am fully aware of the dynamics involved in remaining “relevant ” in the music industry and as such I realize that Beyonce’s evolution into this overly sexualized diva is in aim with this strategy However, a s a black women of power with tremendous influence she is doing not only young fans a disservice but even more importantly the entire Black race. As an international pop star whether you like it or not she is an ambassdor for the Black race and considering as most stans would suggest she is the most recognized and marketed black popular and successful singer out there currently, she is not portraying the types of images that we need the world to see about us and our capabilities. We keep giving he the power and the influence in tremendous dosages without considering the impact of her posessing that power. Now look whats she’s done with it. Our top Black superstar is girating on the stage at every performance in body suits only 2 years after giving birth to a daughter. Her lyrical content has only gotten more trendy and don’t depict any evolution exhibiting any actual substantive genius. Dave Chappelle is a genius , because he can combine his craft of comedy with real political and socia- economic issues in a way that enlightens people. Definetely cant say the same for her music. And given that she’s 32 years old, and has been aorund the best creative geniuses her entire life, what can possibly be her excuse. Oh I know , MONEY! She only cares about money and self image. And this is why we need to stop praising her as if she is a Queen. A “Queen” takes care of her people and she is definitely only making this generation dumber and dumber as she gets richer and richer.

    I understand that she is an entertainer , however everyone continues to label her as a “creative genious” and it is this false marketing that further discredits the standards to which Blacks use to validate “greatness”,. It proves we are still enslaved with a colonial mentality where all we want to do is party, be consumers and not owners,( all that money she makes and she still works for ” the man ” ) and not contribute substantive material to our society.
    Now I realize that many of her fans would say that her substantial constitutions lyrically relate to her stance on feminism but this is a joke right. If feminism is about equality, why is that she alone as a female is continously objectifying herself sexually when I don’t see men in in the industry perpetuating their sexuality in the same way. Most men I se including her hubby Jay-z have all their clothes on. Feminism encompasses many more doctrines to which her lifestyle clearly doesn’t support.
    None of her lyrics even border on substance to the likes of legends such as Bob Marley, Michael Jackson, etc.
    We as a people need to stop glorifying artist who aren’t looking out for the interets of our people. Blacks are still considered the poorest and most dominated race in the world and yet we continue to fill our minds with music from artists such as Beyonce who have nothing significant to contribute other than flashing lights and stellar spectacles. yes she is beautiful and talented but how are her contributions worth all the power and influence we attribute to her. we are still showing the world we are still enslaved. She is a puppet. Blond Wigs, obsession with body and looks, Trashy appearance, no substantive lyrical content on albums, and doesnt take nearly as active of a stance on socio-economic and political issues. All the money she makes and time she spends in the studio can be used to far better uses than making 17 videos of half naked grinding.

  5. Eden Rose says:

    In my opinion, this is Beyoncé’s worst album. There is not one song I personally would listen to repeatedly. It is straight up garbage. That’s why she did not release any singles because she knew that not one of those songs would have been a #1 hit for her. So to avoid another album with lack luster sales, she figured, let me release this visual album unexpectedly on ITunes only for the first week. Knowing that people were eager to hear her new music and then to have a video with each song.Pure genius!

    Its very clear that Beyoncé was not interested in creating quality music for this album. She did not have time for that because Rihanna, Miley Cyrus,Katy Perry, and Lady Gaga is giving her competition.She knows that she needs to stay relevant because she is in her thirties. Why else would she use explicit lyrics in most of her songs, and showing so much of her body and being overly sexual in some of the videos. Its ridiculous and its disappointing.

  6. John Tuner says:

    @Clara, I totally agree on your opinion on mainstream music today. Most songs nowadays put the focus mainly on the “banging beats” and put little creativity or thought on the lyrical content like the songs from Whitney Houston and the other R and B contemporaries from back in the day. However, your view on how Beyonce is following other artists today with raunchy and oversexualized lyrics is absurd. Yes, she has songs on the album that discuss sexual topics. However, unlike other artists who contextualize sex in a negative manner, such as promiscuity, and having sex with “hot chicks”, Beyonce is talking about sex within her stabilized marriage. Plus, she just finished having a baby, so if she wants to share her sexuality that’son her. The only song that really goes over the limit on this album is just “Partition”, but comparing her to the likes of Rihanna and Lady Gaga is just unnecessary. Also, the beats on this album are far from what artists today are exploring. This album explores all kinds of genres that are not really present in today’s music industry. “Rocket” for example exhibits elements of Contemporary R and B from the 90’s and soul and “Superpower” focuses on a cinematic and soulful beat and the vocals on this song are emphasized. Most of the songs on this album is concerned with vocals and not really with the beats if you take a good listen. This album also explores various topics aside from just sex. You have topics ranging from feminism on “Flawless”, strong and powerful love on “XO” and “Superpower”, post-natal depression and marital concerns on “Mine”, the death of a loved one on “Heaven” and a tribute song to her daughter on “Blue”. The lyrics on this album are personal and meaningful and you just have to be able to decipher them and see what they really mean.

    Also, not all music of today sucks. Some artists like Alicia Keys and Ariana Grande and beyonce stay true to themselves and make soulful songs. Even some of the music with “banging beats” are excellent themselves. As long as a song has good lyrics along with the beat it is good to me. But the thing is for me most rap songs nowadays suck.

  7. C says:

    Stumbling across this article on this website I have never heard of before I’ve been compelled to respond – an unusual choice for me.

    Firstly, if I set up a website or persona that celebrated myself as the scholar for the “White America” boy would there be a back lashing. Immediately I am perturbed that your website is, frankly, racist in its concept.

    But that aside let’s get to the article at hand. Your perception of “timeless, classic music” seems contradicted. You say we should reflect on Prince and MJ while criticizing the sexuality expressed in Beyoncé’s music. Noting the sexuality present in the former artists’ own music I think you are just experiencing the typical nostalgia that everyone feels for their childhood. Your arguments are unsupported and subjective – your personal taste in music might glorify your favorite artists as timeless for you but the reality is Beyonce’s album did go to No.1 in 104 countries where meanwhile MJ is dead and Prince’s fans are the same ones as twenty years ago.

    Generational music tastes change, just as your parents would have frowned upon your “rowdy” concerts and celebration of music. I am sick of the disgruntled conservative self-appointed commentators pretending that this shift in music taste is anything different to what the previous generations have in turn experienced themselves. The 60s and the overt presence of drugs in celebration of music horrified your own parents as well. It’s astonishing how easily people forget what it was for them to be 20 or just a kid once.

    Beyoncé is trending now, don’t trash her music as if it is objectively bad – acknowledge that your own personal taste is different and leave it at that. Beginning the article with I don’t know Beyoncé, don’t personally like current music, don’t care about the intentions of dropping the album the way she did just highlights how absolutely irrelevant, uninformed and, I’m sure, dogmatic your time encapsulated music taste is.

  8. Boog says:

    So it’s empowering now to females to be sexually explicit in public? What happen to priding yourselves on having CLASS! or Leaving Something to the Imagination? I mean it’s fine with me if you females want to follow her image; Rihoena or Nick-ihad-2many-Minajes. The so called female leaders of the music industry have every other female in the US(black community- AND YEA I SAID IT) looking and portray themselves as Strait jumpoffs. Surprisingly these are the ones who support b.s. music like this, if you can even call it music. The females that look up to these artist I guarantee are the same ones waking up regretting one night stands, 2 and 3 baby daddy’s with Mr. Dope-Boi, Engaged for 8 years, caught up being the mistress for years, or either a walking STD; “AND YOU WANT A RING??? Put a ring on what?! You tripping!”

    The same can be said about the males in the game with the exception of a few. And let’s be real the Jay Z we knew is nowhere near the guy that’s laying tracks now! Two chains- REALLY! Wale is a lyricist, but is his message enticing you to become hungry for success or delaying your process. J. Cole- lyricist, Respect! Almost every male artist is talking about the same thing-“I Smash this one and this one” ..”Smoke This”.. “Shot Him Up!”- Straight up garbage! How are you going to be Fortune 500 and your aspirations is to sell coke, “You still buying weed?” Man grow up take care of your kids, implement a master plan for your families growth!

    Just Saying stop defending these lames cause I’m sure when your daughter or son grows up you wouldn’t want them following these music artist’s lyrics. Hold these artist accountable to put out Records with Substance, because this music game now is whack as ever!! Then their the ones who say dumb ish like this “Its not the artist’s responsibility to raise your kids!” And You Are So Right, but To me THE ARTIST HAS A RESPONSIBILITY TO HIS LISTENERS TO PUT OUT QUALITY MUSIC!


    PS… To the ones that are and were offended by my comments, peep game, My Words Could Only Be Seen or Found Offensive If You Somehow Felt Challenged or If My Novel Felt Like A Personal Shout At YOUR CHARACTER!!!!.. #MESSAGE

  9. MrsJane says:

    You speak from my heart. I enjoy all types of music old and new, I’ve been to Beyoncé/Destiny’s Child concerts and liked some of their/her songs.
    A friend of mine purchased the album and we listened to it together and were totally disappointed. I have no idea why this album is getting so much praise. The low quality of the music and the primitive lyrics actually shocked me, it seems like a despereate try to stay relevant in the age of Rihanna, Miley etc.
    It also annoys me that she is trying to “empower” with flexing her butt cheeks on the hood of a car and showing her naked ass in nearly every video.
    She is trying to add depth to something that is in fact highly superficial or how you sad just a banging beat with vain lyrics. Nothing new, nothing artistic, nothing special.
    (Moreover, sorry if I made some grammar mistakes, but English isn’t my native language.)

  10. Truth Serum says:

    I agree with this article. People expected a lot from Beyonce. To me, she lost all respect as an artist. If anyone else released that same album with Beyonce’s voice but just a different name, it would not have sold. Beyonce has some super fans who love the way she does any and every thing: “Look at how she is wearing her shoes. It gives me life.”

  11. Flava says:

    From your article it seems you are strictly into musicianship, soulful singing & lyrical depth which is the opposite of Beyonce. Beyonce is a great entertainer and she’s very versatile. Many artists are learning versatility is how you can appeal to a wider audience. Think of Prince or Michael Jackson. These artists could successfully do any style of music. Many artists do not have this ability to do various styles and pull them off. While many old school artists were very talented many also lacked the ability to appeal outside their format. So they were kinda forced to do strictly soul music or maybe this was their passion who knows. But Beyonce doesn’t have to do strictly soul music. As far as music quality goes…This is subjective and depends on what elements give music a quality sound. What does quality sound like? This is like debating what quality looks like.

  12. c_adjani says:

    One thing is also for sure is that black female RADIO artists aren’t allowed to be like Adele, she of thoughtful lyrics AND souful, timeless musicality. Plus, she gets re-mixed to great beats so she wins all around without since she doesn’t haveto demean herself with the scent Eau de Rachet lyrics.

  13. CheckTheRhyme says:

    This article borders on being irresponsible. If you aren’t in tune with today’s music because you openly pine for yesterday, then you aren’t qualified to criticize. We all love and miss yesterday’s quality in R&B, but that music label driven structure isn’t there any longer. Luther, Whitney, Gerald, Chaka, and all of their contemporaries were all making fresh new music in their day. It wouldn’t seem fresh and new to a younger audience that wasn’t there to experience the shift from disco inspired music, but ask someone that grew up on Motown their thoughts about the new jack swing trend. It’s all about a point of reference, and I’m not sure you have a valid one. What you may consider old school classics, someone else considers the death of real music. It’s a cycle Shala.

    What Beyoncé knows is that in order to remain relevant, you must be willing to reinvent yourself. You must be willing to depart from what makes you comfortable in an effort to try and extend your 15 minutes. Ask Mariah Carey (google Glitter), Prince, or even the Bone Thugs how important staying relevant is. It’s everything. Mrs. Carter is a student of the game, and that’s why you get this album. It’s different, it’s new, and even though you can’t relate it falls squarely within the parameters of what popular music today sounds like. No, it’s not great music to me, but if you understand the motivation behind the music it’s palatable enough.
    It would be interesting to see your views on the music of today 15 years from now.

  14. Whatever says:

    Album Dope Thats YAll feeling some Type of way

  15. SMHatAllYall says:

    This Whole post is pathetic if you stop years ago listening to beyonce than your feelings toward the album defiantly doesn’t need to be expressed, “yeah judge my 5th album See if i progressed from 4” How can you? You aint BillBoard, Or Rolling Stones Who ever you all you aint got the money she just made off this, so what she forced people to buy it, all the world know is illegal downloading so thats why artist tour STFU

  16. TRUTH says:

    You sound like that guy never buys new music just listens to his RUN DMC album all day and judge the couple of songs he hears on TV.


    Do they have a couple of tracks about partying too YES OF COURSE! Music is supposed to be HONEST AND UPLIFTING. The human is a BRILLIANT AND FLAWED soul. THEY SHOULD HAVE THE FREEDOM TO EXPRESS AND PUT OUT BOTH INSPIRATIONAL MUSIC AND MUSIC TO TURN UP TO. This is the reason great rappers like 2PAC, COMMON, JAYZ, KANYE WEST, and NAS has been able to stay around for so long, because THEY ARE NOT ONE SIDED.

    WAKE UP.

  17. Olivia says:

    It was the worst waste of money & I’m not even a fan Stan or groupie I just wanted some new music. I should’ve purchased tamar forreal

  18. Shala says:

    Thanks for reading, everyone!

    @John…this wasn’t supposed to be an album review, so perhaps the title is a bit misleading. I really was just talking about the few songs I listened to (especially “Flawless” “Drunk In Love” “Yonce” “Partition”) that all seemed to sound like today’s “turnt up” music with “banging beats” and no quality lyrical content. And was really just wondering if Beyonce is now following this trend of making “turnt up” music, because I’ve never heard music like this from her. There are other artists who have been around awhile but haven’t switched up their styles to reflect this current trend, e.g. Alicia Keys. As I said with the electro-party type of music that was so big last year and so many artists produced those types of songs, “turnt up” music is trending now, so is Beyonce following suit?

    @ Clara you wrote, “Someone asked why is it when Beyonce is being overtly sexual it’s described as empowering but when other female artists do it it’s exploitative?” Very interesting. I think people give Beyonce a pass on many things. For example, when “Bow down’ first came out, people justified her calling another woman the B-word saying she was talking to her haters, not women in general, and it’s just an expression. I seriously doubt if any other female artist produced a song like that she wouldn’t be crucified.

    @Meeks–I agree completely.

  19. Clara says:

    I would say that Beyonce’s music has never contained good lyrical content ever since the days of Destinys Child. If you take a listen to songs such as Fancy, Bootylicious, Nasty etc there really is anything one gets from these songs except cheap corny bubble gum lyrics. As muuch as John says thatthe sex in her album is being celebrated in the confines of marriage is thid something that had been clearly explained to her teenage fans?!

    They will ask what does she mean by being “Monica Lewinsked” what is the meaning of the song “Blow” Mind you the youth are impressionable and being a teacher I have clearly seen the effects of television especially pop music on kids-very sad indeed. Someone asked why is it when Beyonce is being overtly sexual it’s described as empowering but when orgr female artists do it it’s exploitative? Double standards and clear bias. I think we should be objective when looking at these issues and not subjective.

    If fake artist want to stop bring seem as sex symbols then they should stop advocating this stereotype. If justin Timberlake can sell thousands in a suit and tie why can’t other female artists stop flaunting their bodies to make sales.

  20. Meeks says:

    This album and the one before I don’t care for at all. I only resonate with the song featuring Drake. Her album is overrated and lacks substance. Thank God for the invention of smartphones. We can listen to all the goodies and oldies that you mentioned at the tap of our fingers.

  21. John says:

    Also, I would suggest holding off reviews of albums until you listen to the whole thing. It’s very difficult to talk from a knowing place otherwise.

  22. John says:

    Actually, the album isn’t getting mixed reviews. It currently has 85 on Metacritic. It’s probably the most acclaimed pop album in years. I’ve never been a Beyonce fan, though I’ve enjoyed a few of her songs, and there’s no denying she’s a great performer. However, I never expected her to release an album this strong from top to bottom.

    Beyonce will never be Fiona Apple. Pop music is about clever and memorable refrains and hooks, not lyrical genius. This album is full wit and immediately catchy turn of phrases, and the production is slick, modern, varied and often adventurous. I also think you slightly overrate the sexuality of the album. Yes, the album celebrates sex, but it celebrates monogamous, with-in marriage sex. It’s also an album about motherhood and loss. I think “Beyonce”, the album, does a great job at fusing what she’s typically done with influences from more “edgy” artists like MIA and Frank Ocean.

    You might have problems with some of the album’s sexuality and lyrical flightiness, but that doesn’t take away from its quality. Of course, this is just my opinion, and you’re well within your right to not care for the work.

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