When it came time to begin work on her second solo album, Beyonce didn't even tell her manager, who also happens to be her father, that she'd booked studio time. The album, dubbed "B-Day," is due this

When it came time to begin work on her second solo album, Beyonce didn't even tell her manager, who also happens to be her father, that she'd booked studio time. The album, dubbed "B-Day," is due this week via Sony Urban/Columbia. First single "Deja Vu" features Jay-Z and was produced by Rodney Jerkins; it has already reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Beyonce arranged, wrote and produced all the songs with her dream team of Sean Garrett, Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins, the Neptunes and Swizz Beatz. She may have chosen the five hottest producers in the business, each with a discography of hits that reads like the track listing to a "NOW" compilation. But it did not stop her from shrewdly playing each producer off the other.

"I called up Sean, Rich and Rodney. I got them each a room at Sony Studios, and we went to work." Beyonce laughs at the memory. She says she would leave Harrison's room and go check on Garrett and say, "Wow, Rich has some great beats. It was healthy competition," she says.

Her last solo album, 2003's "Dangerously in Love," was about the joys of love, but with "B'Day," Beyonce wanted to focus on a different side of the emotion. The artist, who is in a long-term relationship with Jay-Z, says her love life is rather "boring," but she likes it that way -- "I'm happy in my life." So for this album, she channeled her acting chops and the feeling of being jilted by a lover to write an album that "speaks for every woman."

"This is about female empowerment," she says. "This album is different, it's conceptual, and I do things with my voice that I haven't done before."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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