I don’t know if I’d call it dispiriting, but it’s almost kinda boring that Beyonce’s reign has been so complete, know what I’m saying?
I mean, you’d think she’d be vulnerable.
There’s more avenues for music to be released nowadays, more ways for it to be heard but still, what?
Who’ve you got really?
I’ll give you Rihanna.
I don’t think there’s ever been a time in the history of Black recorded music that one voice has been so dominant.
Even Aretha Franklin, the original queen, faced really heated competition from everyone including Diana Ross, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Dionne Warwick, Minnie Ripperton, Donna Summer, Etta James, Natalie Cole, and Anita Baker before finally, begrudgingly giving way to Mary J. Blige in the early 90s.
Mary’s reign was no less tenuous, having to face down a perennial Janet Jackson along with Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Toni Braxton, Faith Evans, Erykah Badu and Aaliyah.
Now, since Beyonce first emerged way back in the Destiny’s Child era, there have been some ladies you thought might give her a run including but not limited to Ciara, Brandy, Monica, Jennifer Hudson, Jill Scott, Keyshia Cole, Alicia Keys, Jazmine Sullivan, Ashanti, K Michelle, Amerie and Jhene Aiko (sorta).
But they’ve all either faded of failed to fully develop.
Forgive me for seeing this as a bad thing.
And maybe that’s why there’s a semi-crisis in today’s music.
There are only two female artists really pushing things forward.
The queen herself, who turns 35 today, has done more than we can rightly ask anyone to do including – and at the perfect time – turning sociopolitical and literally taking things to the streets when necessary.
The challenger (or should we call her princess?) young Ms. Rihanna is, for good or ill, still in the Girls Just Wanna Have Fun segment of her career.
This isn’t to say that Rihanna doesn’t make any serious music; in my opinion Anti was in fact a better album than Lemonade, But Rihanna’s air of playfulness is so comprehensive that her more serious stuff is likely to be considered a “mood” as opposed to a platform.
And trust me, while it may seem that all I’m doing is pitting Black women against each other, what I’m really concerned about now is the culture.
Hip Hop “beefs” that don’t produce violence, have often produced some of the most innovative and best music the genre has ever had.
Similarly, back when Marvin Gaye dropped what was thought to be the album that changed Black music forever, 1971’s What’s Going On, everybody from Stevie Wonder to Curtis Mayfield to Donny Hathaway got busy, unwilling to let a nigga detonate such an opus in their midst without an immediate response if only to let fans and stans know that they were still around, still doing their thing and planned on doing more now that a gauntlet had been so obviously dropped.
Well, it’s been 5 months since Lemonade and what?
Not a peep from anybody.
Beyonce needs a challenger if only to keep her interested, keep her motivated.
As it is, I find myself just sitting around waiting for her – and her only – to drop another album.
And lord forbid the day should come that we should see some shit like this:
I AM NOW DEFENSELESS AND mentally DEFEATED & I leave gracefully and thankful I luh my fanz but I'm dun
— Lil Wayne WEEZY F (@LilTunechi) September 3, 2016
But with @Beyonce as the Twitter handle.