On the night that Formation dropped, I’d spent around 11 hours straight, lying in bed. After waking up in the morning with good intentions to write a belated post on this very blog, and work out, and finally get round to hoovering the chocolate digestive crumbs off the carpet, I’d wasted another Saturday snoozing and watching Broad City with my laptop precariously rested on my chest.
“Unmotivated” is putting it lightly. Short days and cold weather has the power to completely sap me of drive and without the pressures of having to meet anyone, or do anything but stay alive, winter weekends make me an utter sloth. I was prepared to write this weekend off altogether, and resigned myself to even more biscuit consumption and a marathon of swiping left on some of Croydon’s “finest” – and then Beyoncé, Beyoncé-d.
With no warning, Beyoncé dropped an aesthetically beautiful, unapologetically black, “Bitch, I’m back!” video to a previously unheard trap banger, which I now expect to hear on every night out for the next three months. And it is everything.
The lyrics are instant classics. From swiftly waving off those Illuminati theories, to giving a raunchy new meaning to a fast food joint (“When he f*ck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster”…that you yeah, Jay Z?!), any line in this song would look good on a jumper –my birthday is just under two months away, by the way…
Seeing Blue Ivy, the Young Queen frolicking with two other little Black girls was the first moment my eyes pricked with tears (that were quickly blinked away to avoid a cussing out from my younger sister. I swear, Blue Ivy’s entire existence makes me emotional).
And then that tingly sense of appreciation only grew when I got deeper into the video, and hit replay once it finished. This is a video that is meant to be watched twice, and then again, and then five times more to find something else to soak up.
That BOMB choreography. The dance squad with their range of skintones and hairstyles – ‘fros, twistouts, braids. Those outfits.
The gorgeous shots of New Orleans (that may belong to other people – but we’re focusing on the positive here) that parallel with the sultry gaze of Third Ward, Houston in the No Angel video. Beyoncé’s cornrows swinging.
Blue Ivy’s stank face. The grittiness of that beat. The imagery.
In one scene, she lies atop a police car as it sinks unseen into water. In another, young young boy in a hoodie dances in front of a line of cops, all standing with their hands up. The camera pans past a simple, graffitied plea of “Stop shooting us”. If you were ever in doubt that #BlackLivesMatter to Beyoncé, here’s the answer. Her lack of engagement on social media, or in public verbal discussions of race doesn’t mean that she doesn’t care – she’s switched on, and she’s listening.
Solange might be better at making political statements on her own – just last week, a white male journalist for the New York Times told her not to bite the hand that feeds, and she let. Him. Have. It. – but whenever I start to doubt Beyoncé in comparison, she makes it clear that she is, in fact, very much about this life through her content.
Of course, this doesn’t completely absolve her from critique – though she may love her Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils, it doesn’t change the fact that we haven’t seen this nose since some time in the early 2000s, or the fact that we rarely see her without a blonde straight mane. Her aesthetic doesn’t quite match, but through her actions and her daughter, who rocks baby hair and afros, I see you, Bey, and I appreciate it.
It’s easy to laugh at those who have already slipped things like ‘I twirl on them haters’ into their Twitter bios, or are eagerly anticipating a moment to refer to baes as Red Lobster candidates, or have slipped their mum’s bottle of Dunn’s River hot sauce into their bag, ready to whip out casually at a moment’s notice.
But this glaring reminder that the most impactful star of our time is firmly on your side is truly a cause for celebration. When there’s even a sniff of a new Beyoncé project in the making, the internet starts to hyperventilate – so when this absolute joy of a track and video comes along, in which she flaunts blackness so hard, right before she’s due to perform it for millions at the Superbowl, it’s a reinforcement of a sense that I’m part of an exclusive, amazing club simply by being who I am. So yes, as predictable as it may seem, ‘In Formation’ will be my WhatsApp status for as long as I see fit.
In her own way, Beyoncé is a champion for Black girls, because she never wastes an opportunity to include us every time she feels ready to devastate the world with a new project.
And I’m very thankful, because she raised me out of my slump and reminded me that, you know what? I DO slay, all day – and now, I have an incredible tune to make sure that I never forget it.