Album Review: Beyonce '4'

Beyonce could feminize ‘Tip Drill’ and her legion of fans would worship every word. She’s Queen of the Negronian universe. Head of Oprah’s music ministry. Pres. Obama’s urban music advisor. The greatest triple double threat alive. And now, after a lengthy absence from the throne, she’s returned to pry her crown from Lady Gaga’s freakish clutches with her 4th studio album cleverly entitled 4—a generically ‘grown & sexy’ compilation of lite-Pop wreckage that’s more Celine Dion than Sasha Fierce.

With 4, Beyonce created majestic ‘feel the rain on your skin’-music for grown women who truly believe ‘girls’ run the world. It’s lavishly-bold, but creatively-delusional. Ambitious, yet tedious. A late Fall album for the summer that rarely works on any level, musically. I mean, I rock with the Creolian Lacefront Goddess, but 4 is easily her fourth best album. It is what it is.

On “1+1,” Beyonce confuses ‘Algebuh’ with simple addition before roaring into an aggressive battle cry that failed to resonate with me. I, like millions of other sophisticated music heads, don’t have an emotional connection with Bey who’s always been a cootch-contorting cyborg, or Beycepticon, as I love to call her. She’s too private, too sweetly mechanical, to be singing Jennifer Hudson struggle hymns from the fiery depths of her chest. That’s never been her lane.

“I Care,” “Start Over” & “I Was Here” are no different. Why Bey decided to over-sing in the key of Xtina on her mega-hyped comeback album is Pop&B’s greatest mystery. But I get it, though. She wanted to display artistic growth with a ‘mature’ album which, well, is impossible with Chuck E. Cheesey Willow Smith anthems (“Countdown” & “Girls”) featured on it.

To me, Bey won with the incredibly-infectious “End of Time” and soul-searing “Rather Die Young”—4‘s only gems—but epically-failed to elevate the album above utter clichédom with “Party” (Feat. Andre 3K & Kanye, who wasted precious studio time) & “Best Thing I Never Had” (which criminally rips-off Vanessa Carlton’s smash “A Thousand Miles”—2002’s official white girl anthem).

At no point during my lifetime did I ever think Rihanna would have a stronger album than Beyonce, but it’s true. LOUD is everything 4 should be, but isn’t. It’s too damn hot outside for deeply-emotional ballads & lullabies. Single ladies can’t drop down low & sweep the floor to this Dawson‘s Creek-music. There’s just no way anyone under the age of 37 can get jiggy with this sh*t.

Now, to be clear, I’m judging Beyonce against the same ‘greatness rubric’ used for LeBron James. Both are the most talented entities in their industry. Bey is Queen Beysus, LeBron: King James. Both have yet to reach their God-like potential. Beyonce dropped 1 classic (IF that) album 8 years ago and LeBron scored 8 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. Is 4 terrible? No, just…OK, which is cool for Keri or Ciara, not Beyonce.

Overall, 4 achieves whatever Beyonce wanted to achieve with a melodramatic summer album. Her vocals are stunning at times but there are no hit records/reasons to listen to it more than twice. The stans will cop 13 deluxe copies each, though, and my mama will continue exercising to the “Halo” dance remix. Pretentious women will sip Moscato while eating fancy desserts to 4. Everyone else will cop the new Jill Scott or Ledisi albums. 1.9/4 Stars. Download it.

(Note: If the legend is true, 17 of Beyonce’s grittiest stans will instantly appear in my living room with aluminum bats & lead pipes when I post this review. Tell my mama, Carolyn, I love her. It’s been real. Peace.)


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Def Pen Radio.


Subscribe now to our newsletter