Search

Beyoncé’s Renaissance: An ode to 80’s disco and Black queer icons

Beyoncé’s highly anticipated album Renaissance was released on Friday (29 July) after a six-year hiatus, paying homage to decades of dance music.

Beyoncé - Source: Chris Pizzello/AP/Shutterstock

The album, which is a three-part act created during the pandemic, is dedicated to her Uncle Jonny who passed away from AIDS-related complications. "He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album," says the iconic singer. 

Renaissance makes numerous references to the LGBTQ+ community, particularly Black queer icons, and Kindred. is here to break some of them down. 

COZY

Robin Utrecht/Shutterstock

The second track on the album is a celebration of being comfortable and "COZY" in your own skin. At one point, Beyoncé refers to Daniel Quasar’s 'Progress' Pride flag with the lyrics "Blue, black, white and brown, paint the town red like cinnamon…".





Beyoncé paints the colours of Quasar’s flag with her words, which brings marginalised LGBTQ+ people of colour, the trans community and those living with or who we have lost to AIDS, to the forefront.


Andrew Schwartz/SIPA/Shutterstock

Media personality and trans woman Ts Madison also makes an appearance on the track with an affirmation of Black pride with her 2020 "B*tch I’m Black" message.





ALIEN SUPERSTAR


ALIEN SUPERSTAR opens with a warning from "Moonraker", by DJ and spoken-word performer Foremost Poets. "Black Theatre Speech" is also sampled near the end, saying, "We talk a certain way, we paint a certain way, we make love a certain way, you know? All of these things we do in a different, unique, specific way that is personally ours…".


Source: Adam Stoltman/AP/Shutterstock

These words are spoken by the National Black Theatre’s late founder Barbara Ann Teer who was a Black activist that founded Harlem National Theatre in 1968 and which promotes shows and workshops that celebrate Black expression.






MOVE


Grace Jones (Left) - Source: David Fisher/Shutterstock. Tems (Right) - Source: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

This Afrobeat-inspired track features legendary vocalist and model Grace Jones and Nigerian singer Tems. In the song’s opening, Beyoncé repeats "Grace Jones", and both repeat "Brukup, it's Brukup, its Brukup, Humble, like we pon the come up", in Jamaican patois, which references 90s dancehall move "bruk up", created by the style’s originator, George "Bruk Up" Adams.



PURE/HONEY

Source: Vanessa Carvalho/Shutterstock

PURE/HONEY opens with a sample from drag queen Kevin Aviance, a member of New York-based vogue ballroom House of Aviance and best known for his track 'C*nty', and has elements of vogue and ballroom beats throughout.









Let us know what your favourite track is in the comments below.