During the London stop of their On the Run II tour, Beyoncé and JAY-Z took the mic to surprise their audience: “We want you guys to be the first to experience this new project.” After premiering the new “APESHIT” visual to the crowd, they released their collaborative album, Everything Is Love, to the rest of the world without warning. In the “APESHIT” clip, the couple gallivant in an empty Louvre, as dancers come dangerously close to touching the priceless artworks.
A black couple, captured with the same stark intimacy as a Deana Lawson photograph, fix each other’s hair in front of the Mona Lisa. Jay and Bey pose with treasured Egyptian ruins, the revered Greek statue of the goddess of victory Nike, and Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic work, and it’s clear what they’re trying to say: their work—and their love—are worthy to be placed within the very white, colonialist canon of art history.
Everything Is Love—plus another standalone track called “SALUD!”—is Beyoncé and Jay’s testament to forgiveness and reconciliation. Featuring contributions from Migos’ Quavo and Offset, Ty Dolla $ign—as well as production from Pharrell, Cool & Dre, TV on the Radio’s Dave Sistek, among others—the nine-track project, credited to the Carters, is the couple’s ode to their daughter, Blue Ivy, and their combined wealth. Here’s a few things to know going in.
As a Relationship Renews, the Trilogy Ends
In case you weren’t up to date, the last two Beyoncé and JAY-Z albums were about a rift in their relationship, caused by Jay allegedly cheating on his wife. On Lemonade, Bey ripped into Jay with tracks like “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and sang about infidelity while referring to the supposed paramour as, “Becky with the good hair.” With Jay’s next album 4:44, he rapped multiple apologies to his wife, apparently turning a new leaf in his “womanizing” ways. Now, Everything Is Love acts as the final installment of the Carter’s relationship saga. And it even apparently helped bring the couple back together. “We were using our art almost like a therapy session,” Jay told The New York Times last year. “And we started making music together.”
Everything Is Love is bookended with songs that address the couple’s marital reunion, as they define their love in different ways. In the opening track “SUMMER,” Beyoncé sings, “Love is universal/Love is going to express itself as a form of forgiveness and compassion for each other,” setting the scene for the album’s overall theme of lovers’ unity. Later in “713,” Jay wistfully recounts the story of their relationship from when they first started dating. But he ends the song by zooming out to speak for all the black American men who “only know love” because of their black women in their lives. “Black queen, you rescued us, you rescued us, rescued us,” he raps graciously.
And on the closing track, “LOVEHAPPY,” the two overtly acknowledge the trials that they’ve had to face in their relationship. But they have a sense of humor about it, as Beyoncé plainly says, “You fucked up the first stone, we had to get remarried,” to which Jay responds nervously, “Yo, chill man.”
Beyoncé keeps egging him on though, as she says: “We keepin’ it real with these people, right?/Lucky I ain’t kill you when I met that b—.” All jokes aside, the album ends on a tender and genuine sentiment: “We came, and we saw, and we conquered it all/We came, and we conquered, now we’re happy in love.