Beyoncé's Renaissance: reactions from fans and critics to one of the year's most anticipated albums

 Beyoncé's Renaissance: reactions from fans and critics to one of the year's most anticipated albums

Beyoncé's Renaissance: reactions from fans and critics to one of the year's most anticipated albums

Following the surprise releases of her two most recent records, 2013's self-titled and 2016's feverishly acclaimed visual album Lemonade, the lead-up to Renaissance has been unusually long - at least by Beyoncé's standards.

In comparison, Renaissance was preceded by a six-week run that included last month's lead single Break My Soul, a song that was hailed as the anthem of the Great Resignation with its call to arms to "release ya job."

A scandal - and a leak

However, the release has not been without issues. It was leaked in full two days early, but her legion of fans, known as the Beyhive, immediately urged listeners to "respect her wishes" on Twitter and wait for the official release.

Beyoncé issued a statement thanking her fans at Renaissance's official release time. "I can't express how grateful I am for your love and protection," she said. "I appreciate you calling out anyone who was attempting to enter the club early.

Many people on Twitter praised Renaissance's seamless song transitions, with each track blending into the next as if placed on a club mix.

According to a four-star Guardian review of Renaissance, it is the "soundtrack for a feral summer of chaos and joy," and it is rich with references to international dance traditions such as Afrobeat, Jersey Club, and New Jack Swing. "It's a celebration of living abundantly and beyond the realms of other people's expectations," Tara Joshi wrote.

"Her wide palette illustrates how the best parties blend racial and gender identities, sexual orientations, and aesthetic sensibilities in harmonious ways that belie our tortured and often bigoted public discourse," said Rolling Stone of Beyoncé's refreshing curation of collaborators, which also includes queer club figureheads Big Freedia and Honey Dijon.

Big Freedia said in a June tweet that it "feels surreal" to be on a track with Beyoncé, adding, "I'm so honored to be a part of this special moment."

She also paid tribute to her "beautiful husband and muse," Jay-Z, and her family, as well as her late uncle Jonny, a gay man whom Beyoncé described as "my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album."

Beyoncé's long-awaited album Renaissance - her first solo studio record in six years - has been met with acclaim from fans and critics alike, as well as some controversy.

Renaissance, a 16-track dance album featuring high-profile, genre-spanning collaborators such as Drake, Skrillex, and Grace Jones, is the first in a planned trilogy, Beyoncé said in a statement posted to her website the day before the album's release.

"This three-act project was recorded over the course of three years during the pandemic," the 28-time Grammy winner wrote. "My goal was to create a safe haven." A judgement-free zone. A sanctuary from perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, let go, and feel free.

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