The time has finally come! Six years since her last solo studio album, Beyoncé has returned, surprising and delighting fans with her celebratory explosion of dance and catharsis, RENAISSANCE.
“My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking,” Beyoncé shared with her fans about the intention and inspiration behind her new sound. “A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”
That journey led Beyoncé to honor and pay homage to a variety of pioneers in dance, funk, soul, house, and disco music, weaving together influences from the past to create a sound that is current, timely, and speaks to our desires to break free from the
“Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long,” Beyoncé wrote. “This is a celebration for you.”
Take a look at the work of the pioneers who inspired Beyoncé’s RENAISSANCE below:
Track 1: I’M THAT GIRL
Tommy Wright III & Princess Loko – “Sill Pimpin'”
The South Memphis trap pioneer was a giant in the south throughout the 1990’s, and his collaborator, Princess Loko, .
Track 2: COZY
Lidell Townsell & M.T.F: “Get With U”
A Chicago House Music legend, Townsell’s innovation and impact has rippled across music off the strength of only one album he released in 1992, Harmony.
Danube Dance ft. Kim Cooper, “Unique”
A classic 90’s house cut that gives the track even more grounding in the culture that inspired it.
TS Madison, “B*tch I’m Black”
Trans personality and host T.S. Madison is no stranger to internet virality. Beyoncé highlighted one of her hilariously honest rants about the pride she has in her Black skin, hair, and phenotypical features.
Track 3: ALIEN SUPERSTAR
The Foremost Poets, “Moonraker”
The DJ, who now goes by the name jOHNNYDANGEROUS, is a fixture in the New Jersey club scene and uses Funk, House, Electronic and Spoken Word to craft a unique sound.
Right Said Fred, “I’m Too Sexy”
Right Said Fred is collecting ALL their coins these days, as after being samples in Drake and Future’s “Way 2 Sexy” last year, they’re coming back with a cosign from Queen Bey herself. Their hit “I’m Too Sexy” was inescapable throughout much of the early and mid-90’s.
Mood II Swing, “Do It Your Way” / Barbara Ann Teer’s “Black Theater Speech”
In their 1996 hit, the NY-based House DJ Duo used the same sample of a speech about Black Theater given by writer, producer, actress and founder of Harlem’s National Black Theater Barbara Ann Teer that Bey highlights here.
Track 4: CUFF IT
Teena Marie, “Ooh, La La La”
One of the titans of “blue-eyed soul,” Teena Marie has been sampled by and collaborated with dozens of hip-hop and R&B artists. With a distinctive soprano (that led many who had not seen her to believe she was actually a Black woman), her sound was the soundtrack to many a millennial’s childhood.
Track 5: ENERGY
Though she has made it clear she’s less than thrilled about being featured, Kelis’ impact on music is undeniable. Her 2003 hit remains in the pop culture consciousness nearly as much as it did when it first premiered.
Track 6: BREAK MY SOUL
Big Freedia, “Explode”
The self-proclaimed and undisputed Queen of Bounce, Freedia has collaborated with Beyonce before on her prior solo album, Lemonade. Her loud and boisterous call-to-actions punctuate the rapid and heavy-hitting rhythms that force all who listen to move their hips and “release their wiggle.”
Robin S., “Show Me Love”
With a sound that defined 90’s dance music, Robin S. is a pioneer of house and dance whose undeniable influence is still felt across genres to this very day.
Track 7: CHURCH GIRL
The Clark Sisters, “Center of Thy Will”
Gospel music legends The Clark Sisters are a staple in every church kid’s life. Their powerhouse vocals and exaltations of praise perfectly punctuate Beyoncé’s duality dance track about “good girls” who like to get down.
DJ Jimi, “Where They At”
DJ Jimi’s call and response twerk anthem became the cornerstone of hundreds of tracks that have come thereafter, with perhaps the most impactful initial sample of “Drag Rap (Triggerman)” by The Showboys – which is still frequently used to this day.
James Brown ft. Lyn Collins, “Think About It”
Who better to draw inspiration from than The Godfather of Soul himself? Perhaps most used as a sample in “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Beyoncé found a way to turn it on its head in this anthem for ladies who love to let loose.
Track 14: AMERICA HAS A PROBLEM
Kilo Ali, “Cocaine (America Has A Problem)”
A pioneer and purveyor of Atlanta’s signature “Freaknik” sound, Kilo Ali has a string of regional classics that have left him a hero of southern regional music.
Track 15: PURE | HONEY
Moi Renee, “Miss Honey”
The “Miss Honey” mantra originally went viral in YouTube’s early days when a clip of Moi Renee performing her 1992 NYC underground club hit on The Sybil Bruncheon Show via public access channel began making the blog rounds. The track is credited as one of the earliest “bitch tracks,” an unapologetically self-braggadocious house song often used for solo-showcasing on the dance floor and ballroom voguing. Sadly, Renee passed away in 1997, but her voice and legacy live on through internet virality and of course, this posthumous feature with one of the biggest artists on earth.
Kevin Aviance, “Cunty”
Drag queen, house music artist, and fixture in NYC’s gay club scene, Aviance has performed across the United States, Europe, and Asia since the early 1990’s. Prior to being highlighted on Beyoncé’s latest, he had worked with other legendary divas like Janet Jackson and Whitney Houston.
Track 16: SUMMER RENAISSANCE
Donna Summer, “I Feel Love”
Long one of Beyonce’s most direct influences, Donna Summer’s disco soul provided direct inspiration for the album’s liberated and free final track.