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DJ Yuka's Overview of Beyonce's "Cowboy Carter"

On March 29th, Beyoncé released her genre-bending album “Country Carter”. It is part of a trilogy of style-defying albums. Her 2022 album “Renaissance” was act one and featured club hits like “Break My Soul” and “Cuff It”. “Country Carter” is act two, as you can additionally tell by the double “i”s used in some of the songs’ titles. It is different from other Beyoncé albums as it contains prominent vibes of country and alternative rock.  Up to the release of this album, audiences have been excited to hear how Beyoncé takes on the country genre. It is important to point out though that “this ain't a country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album,” according to the global superstar herself on Instagram. This album takes on country styles and themes, but it is ultimately a blend of several genres that further contributes to Beyoncé's common practice of breaking the norms. 

DJ Yuka’s Favorite Songs 

“Ameriican Requiem” is the first track on the album, and it was purposeful to start with this one. The song begins as a slow, but strong vocal performance and gradually builds up before transitioning into a faster-paced anthem. In this track, Beyoncé calls out critics and explains the reasoning behind this country-esque album. She refers to the backlash she received in 2016 after performing her song “Daddy Lessons” at the Country Music Awards. Some country fans claimed she didn't belong in the genre and some statements even had racially motivated undertones. This experience is alluded to as the catalyst for this album's creation in the first place. This song therefore is a perfect start to “Cowboy Carter” as it introduces a reason behind the album and why it is so important. 

The second song “Blackbiird” is a cover of the classic song by the Beatles. The original writer of the song, Paul McCartney, said this about the lyrics; “This was really a song from me to a black woman, experiencing these problems in the States: ‘Let me encourage you to keep trying, to keep your faith; there is hope.’” This makes it only right that on her version of the song, Beyoncé features black women country artists Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Tiera Kennedy, and Reyna Roberts. These are the first of many black country artists that Beyoncé features on this album. 

“16 Carriages” which was one of two singles Beyoncé released to tease the album. The song is about losing innocence very young. It has what I think to be one of the catchiest flows on the album.

“Protector” starts with Beyoncé's daughter Rumi asking for a lullaby. Beyoncé then begins to sing a soothing tune about being there for her children. This song about motherhood is very pure, and beautiful, and one of my favorites on the album. 

“Texas Hold ‘Em” is the other single that was released before the album. It gives off the style of a hoedown song. I can easily see this becoming a choreographed line dance or at least influence dances on TikTok. 

In “Bodyguard” Beyoncé sings an upbeat acoustic tune about offering love and protection to her husband Jay-Z. I find the song to be very fun and catchy. I can see this track becoming one of the most popular ones on the album. 

In “Jolene” Beyoncé flips the words and tone of the beloved classic by the country legend Dolly Parton. In this version, Beyoncé isn't begging Jolene not to take her man, but warning her by saying things like “you don't want this smoke, so shoot your shot with someone else.” 

“Daughter” is said to be a possible sequel to her song “Daddy Lessons” off her 2016 album “Lemonade”. The song displays Beyoncé as a protector that you shouldn’t cross, a theme that is scattered throughout this album. She warns people that she can be just like her father in that she is “colder than Titanic waters”. I love this song because it gives me chills (pun intended) in a way that is unlike other songs on the album. 

“Spaghettii” is a song that further proves Beyoncé’s original statement that this isn’t a full country album, but a blend of several genres. This track has Beyoncé rapping aggressively about loyalty over an electrifying beat and even compares herself to the Marvel villain Thanos in one line. The anger and passion are ultimately contrasted with a slow acoustic beat switch at the end, where Beyoncé enlists the help of another genre-blending artist, Shaboozey. I was excited to see Shaboozey featured on this album, as I have been following him for a while and have even played him a couple of times on my radio show Foreign and Domestic (Sundays 4-6). 

“II Most Wanted” is a beautiful ballad containing Beyoncé and Miley Cyrus exchanging lines about love and companionship. The chord progression is similar to the Fleetwood Mac song “Landslide” from 1975. I found this song even more beautiful when I discovered it to be a tribute to Jay-Z’s mother who recently married her long-time partner in July of 2023.

“Levii’s Jeans” is another amazing duet on this album. It features Beyoncé and Post Malone singing metaphors about the globally recognized jeans. The brand even gave its approval of the song by adding an extra “i” to the logo on its socials. I love this song because of the catchiness of the melody and the raspy voice that Post is known for. 

“Ya Ya” is a rodeo-style anthem that defies genres. Therefore it is only right that country legend Linda Martell introduces it as so on the interludal track before this one. It samples Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’” and even the Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations”. It’s an energetic song that implores you to jump out of your seat and clap along.

“Tyrant” is by far one of my favorites on the entire album. Dolly Parton is part of the soft intro before the beat drops and turns into an addicting modern fiddle melody. I can see this track becoming one of the most popular on the album due to its catchy rhythm and danceability.

“Amen” is the final track on Beyoncé’s “Country Carter” and like “Ameriican Requiem”, it is strategically placed. It calls back to the reasoning behind the album and uses the beginning of the first track to complete a cycle. 

This completes my list of favorite songs, but it is important to mention that those not on this list are nowhere near bad. I can easily see more songs from this album growing on me, especially tracks like “Alliigator Tears” and “Just For Fun”.

Key Takeaways and Rating

On this album, Beyoncé does an amazing job at proving that she belongs in the genre of Country and styles of the like. She expresses the common themes of Southern heritage, protecting those she loves, and that genres can be loose in practice. She spotlights black country artists who are often overlooked. In addition, she enlists the help of country legends Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, and Linda Martell to strategically guide the album along with fun skits in between songs. The only critique I have is that the 27 total tracks can make the album feel long and possibly lead to burnout. A lot of these tracks, however, are short interludes between songs, so the album is only about an hour. I still believe that this album is worth a full listen in the intended order, which is why I give this album a solid 9 out of 10.  

I’ll end this review by quoting Willie Nelson in one of his interludes, “Smoke Hour II”. “Sometimes you don't know what you like until someone you trust turns you on to some real good sh*t. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I'm here.”

Images courtesy of Variety

Luka Albarran

On Foreign and Domestic, DJ Yuka, DJ Sol, and DJ Breeze will bring you songs from around the world and throughout time. The show will also consist of talks about music, culture, and trending topics. You won't want to miss it.

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