A Guide to Dance Music on Beyoncé’s ‘Renaissance’

Beyoncé’s new album “Renaissance,” Consciously steeped in dance-music history, effortlessly embracing decades of samples and sounds: 1970s Donna Summer and chic disco, Jamaican dancehall, Internet-speed hyperpop. She chose allies, references, and even distinctive keyboard sounds that pay homage to club-land memories, while making her own 21st-century statement. Here’s an exploration of some of the sources they celebrated and their importance.

The album’s second and third tracks, “Comfortable” And “Alien Superstar” Feature writing and production by a Chicago-born house-music DJ and producer Honey Dijon, “Cozy” also includes a writing credit for Curtis Allen Jones, known as Cajamere or Green Velvet—one of Chicago house music’s greatest producers.

That location is important here. Chicago is the birthplace of house music, and Chicago house, in particular, often moves with a heavy pronounced swing, accentuated by an octave-jumping staccato bass pattern. the canonical example is Adonis’ “No Way Back” from 1986, and bass line “Comfortable” Plays like the opposite. The song is almost memorably recognizable as an early Chicago house without sounding like a mere homage.

Feather “Alien Superstar” The rhythm of the hook (“I’m too classy for this world/Forever I’m that girl”) is credited with being the interpolation of Right Sad Fred’s dance-floor novelty smash “I’m so sexy.” Taylor Swift borrowed the same part (with credits) on her 2017 track “Look What You Made Me Do” and Drake samples the 1992 song on “Way Too Sexy” from 2021.

Another direct callback is on “cuff it”: The bass line is immediately recognizable as the offspring of Bernard Edwards’ Monster Riff Chic’s “Good Times,” 1 hit in 1979, and Edwards’ partner in Chic, Nile Rodgers, gets credit for writing and playing the guitar here. (on bass and drums: Rafael Sadiq.) As Ken Barnes wrote in his liner notes for “Disco Years Vol. 4: Lost in Music,” a compilation on Rhino Records, rewriting chic became a kind of national pastime in the early 1980s, at least No less through early hip-hop and post-disco R&B. this version of one, two, three (the rest) Many are indebted to “Good Times” to be rewritten as the original: Sugarhill Gangs. “rapper’s Delight” and von mason “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll” For example.

“energy” The early 2010s feature writing and production from EDM-festival superstar Skrillex, who is known for his drops – dramatic buildups that resolve to a fresh beat – but since his heyday, he has largely But worked behind the scenes. (See Justin Bieber’s 2015 smash “Where are you now,” which he created with Diplo.) “Energy” appears to be acting on strings; It’s taut minimalism with the best layering of sub-bass tones.

The song also has writing credits for Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, the songwriting and production duo The Neptunes, who are known for their work with a broad ensemble of singers and rappers beginning in the 1990s. On Thursday, ahead of the release of “Renaissance,” singer and songwriter Kelis took to social media, saying that those credits were for a sample of one of her songs (it turned out to be an interpolation of “Milkshake” from 2003), and that she had written a song about it. use was not permitted. Most of the early albums Kelis made with the Neptunes did not have a credited writer or producer, and did not have a credit on “Milkshake”. one in 2020 interview with The Guardian She said she signed a deal with the two when she was “too young and too stupid to double-check it.”

A similar situation arose with the album’s lead single, “break my soul” Which is indebted to the central chord motif from Robin S’s pop-house hit “Show Me Love”. But whether her 1992 remix was sampled was not initially clear, and for the first week after the song’s release, credit transferred, (The latest version says the Beyoncé song is “containing elements” of “Show Me Love.”) Robin S. The song’s afterlife has been strong: Brooklyn producer Asmo’s 2019 crackdown appeared “Where are they???” Featuring John FM, which became a major underground dance anthem before and during the pandemic, as well as recent releases Charli XCX And Daddy Yankee,

Another key to “Break My Soul” is the shout of the sermon (“Release Your Wiggle!”) by New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia, which Beyoncé previously sampled on “Formation” (2016). Bounce is a New Orleans-bred dance-music style that is very loud, bass intensive and heavy on call and response; In response, an uproar broke out.

Beyoncé reappears in the late ’90s “Plastic from the sofa.” While most of the song is lush digital ballads, there’s a moment in its coda that could have come from “messy” experimental-electronica, where the tail end of a vocal run, heavily overdubbed, is subject to deliberate audible editing. It’s hair-raising but mostly humorous—an audible wink for the listener, an aspect of modern pop’s high-tech production laid bare. (For an example from the ’90s, see The Oval’s album “94Discount,“Or Compilation “click + cut” Released in 2000.)

Classic disco emphasizes the midpoint of the album itself. “Virgo’s Groove” There are layers of rippling percussion, synthesizer and bass that update the production work Quincy Jones did with Michael Jackson – a companion piece of sorts to Daft Punk. “Be lucky.” “Step,” The next track, featuring one of grace jones – Disco royalty, just in case anyone wonders where Beyoncé is coming from.

As noted on “Move”—and even more so on “America’s a Problem”—the frock known in the dance world as “Reese’s Bass” is low-end. The term is a reference to a 1988 record, “Just Want Another Chance” by Reese’sOne of several nicknames used by Kevin Saunderson, one of the first producers to identify with Detroit Techno in the mid-80s.

Just as “Chicago House” refers not only to a style and its birthplace, but also to that swinging octave-hopping sound, “Detroit Techno” reflects an attention to detail and an aura of restless invention. . The heavy-fog low end of “Just Want Another Chance” was often recreated by London bass-music styles such as jungle, drum and bass, UK garage and dubstep – what writer Simon Reynolds has called the “hardcore continuum” of black British music and urban. Fields’ styles took root on London’s Pirate Radio.

Beyoncé’s use of heavy, undulating Reese bass on “Move” and “America Has a Problem” further underpins the album in the black dance-music continuum. “Problem” also opens with historic electronic-rap tracks from the orchestra’s stabbing, la Africa Bambaataa and Soulsonic Force. “Planet Rock” – or, even more appropriately, given the title and lyrical theme, Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation”.

“warm” Beyonce is shown commanding a neo-dancehall form atop a slinky, wood-block-heavy groove. At the end of the song, she mentions tapping the track with her fingers on the MPC, an instrument designed by Roger Lynn that came out in 1988. The MPC made by Akai is not played with a keyboard, but instead consists of a square. The grid of pads that triggers various sounds, and has become a widespread composition and performance instrument.

“thick” This sounds like something that would have been on the dubstep dance floor in the days before Skrillex, when the subgenre’s distorted bass and variable tempo were primarily the province of British producers. Certainly, the song’s writing and production credits include an artist influenced by those musicians: Chauncey Hollis Jr., aka Hit-Boy, who produced a dubstep-inflected hit On Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “Watch the Throne” (2011).

Looks like plasticine “thick” Argue in an even heavier synthetic “Everything on your mind” co-produced by ag cook, the main brains behind London label and art collective PC Music, which came out in mid-2010 with a sound built on stylish exaggeration: vocals that were not only high in a machine-music way, but were intentionally squeaky. ,SophieThe producer known for exuberant hyperpop, who died in 2021, came from this camp.) “All Up” is futuristic robo-pop, with a sub-bass line that sounds under snorkeling rather than emanating from the speaker. Is.

“pure honey,” Next to Last, there’s another sub-bass monster: The first part, powered by a nasty kick drum, is a surprising approximation of techno at its steeliest, or perhaps its most “pure”. “Honey” arrives at the 2:11 mark, a bulbous neo-disco groove with feathery horns that recall early sylvester, The track subtitle plays part of a sample of the Kevin Evians song. “Feeling” – One of the major recordings in a queer house sub-genre known as a “bitch track”.

album’s last track, “Summer Renaissance” Featuring Beyoncé singing, “It’s great, it’s great, it’s great, it’s great” on a very familiar pinballing riff — yes, the finale interpolates Donna Summer “I feel Love,” 1977’s disco was a hit with an all-encompassing synthesizer backdrop and pulsating beat that anticipated the futuristic sound of dance music. But the key melody of “I Feel Love” sounds like it’s being played on a Korg keyboard that “Break My Soul” ties the two eras together in a third.

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