New Beyoncé music comes just like falling asleep: slowly, then all at once. After six years without a new solo album — and only a few cryptic hints the last few days that something was happening — Queen B followed her tradition of surprise-announcing records when streaming platform Tidal, which is owned by her husband Jay-Z, tweeted in the early morning hours of June 16 that Renaissance is coming.
It marks her first proper solo album since her critically acclaimed LP Lemonade, which she surprise dropped on Tidal in 2016 after leaving a series of hints on social media. Before that, she released her self-titled fifth studio album in 2013 — also without warning. So when the music titan just recently started deleting her profile pictures from Instagram, Twitter and other accounts, fans were certain that at long last, a new record was finally on its way.
They were right. Now kicking off her brand new era, Beyoncé changed her Instagram bio to announce the July 29 release of Renaissance and graced the cover of British Vogue for a brief profile teasing what’s to come as well as posed for a set of stunning photos. These images feature the 28-time Grammy winner posing amongst gilded set pieces — featuring horses, motorcycles and oversized disco balls, for example — that feel both old-fashioned and futuristic. Are those aesthetics an indication of what her new album will sound like? That’s yet to be revealed.
The piece did share, though, a handful of details regarding what the record will sound like and when it was made. Plus, Beyoncé herself has doled out a few clues on her website and social media accounts. Keep reading to see everything Billboard knows about Beyoncé’s Renaissance album below.
When It's Coming
Renaissance is due out July 29, as revealed in the “Formation” singer’s Instagram bio and Tidal’s tweet.
It Might Be the First in an Album Series
On Beyoncé’s website and Instagram bio, it says that Renaissance is “act i.” British Vogue also teased that “a thrilling abundance” of new music was on its way from the superstar.
Renaissance is already available for pre-save on Apple Music, a function which shows that the project boasts 16 tracks. While the song titles were not immediately revealed, Beyonce finally shared them on July 20. The full tracklist, as she revealed on her Instagram Stories, is as follows:
- “I’m That Girl”
- “Alien Superstar”
- “Cuff It”
- “Break My Soul”
- “Church Girl”
- “Plastic Off the Sofa”
- “Virgo’s Groove”
- “All Up in Your Mind”
- “America Has a Problem”
- “Summer Renaissance”
The Possible Sound
Beyoncé has long been known to blend all sorts of sounds and genres into her music, be it pop, R&B, soul, hip-hop, country, blues — you name it. With Renaissance, though, British Vogue asserts that she’s just slightly narrowing her focus by taking inspiration primarily from American music made in the late 20th century — something the publication says might be her “most ambitious” musical endeavor to date.
Meanwhile, an insider told Variety that the album will feature both dance- and country-oriented tracks. Per the source, OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder — who previously worked with Bey on “Halo” — is contributing to the upcoming set, and Raphael Saadiq is also reportedly involved.
It'll Make You Want to Dance
In the British Vogue piece, the writer recounted what it was like when Beyoncé offered to play for him her new music, pulled out her laptop, and pressed play on one of the world’s most desperately anticipated albums of the past half decade. “Instantly, a wall of sound hits me,” the journalist wrote. “Soaring vocals and fierce beats combine and in a split second I’m transported back to the clubs of my youth. I want to get up and start throwing moves. It’s music I love to my core. Music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, to our people past and present, music that will unite so many on the dance floor, music that touches your soul.”
It Was Made During the Pandemic
It’s uncertain what exactly the timeline of Renaissance‘s creation looks like, but the British Vogue piece did reveal that making the album was a long process that took place — at least in part — during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. This gave Beyoncé much more time to “spend thinking and rethinking every decision,” according to the piece. “Just the way she likes it.”
The Box Sets
Yes, there will be collectible box sets — four, to be exact. The shop on Beyonce.com reveals that the four collections — titled Pose 1, 2, 3 and 4, available only via the website — cost $39.99 and ship the day the album drops. Each box set will include a collectible Renaissance box, T-shirt, and CD; the cover art and various T-shirt designs will be revealed later.
The First Single
In the early morning on Monday, June 20, as the United States was observing Juneteenth, Beyonce quietly announced that the first single from Renaissance was arriving — and fast. “6. BREAK MY SOUL midnight ET,” her social media bios simply said.
Shortly after, Spotify’s Twitter account also confirmed the news in a tweet, advising the Beyhive to “get in formation” for the song’s release. Columbia Records got in on the action as well, tweeting in its announcement for the single that “Beyonce brings the summer solstice.”
Then on July 22, Beyonce surprise-released two new versions of “Break My Soul” — an a capella take, and an instrumental option.
Late on July 20, Apple Music shared the production and writing credits for the 16 tracks before removing them. Among the artists listed as collaborators on Renaissance are Drake, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, The-Dream, Labrinth, Donna Summer, Tems, Skrillex and many others.
The Cover Art
In an Instagram post on June 30, Bey revealed the whimsical cover art for Renaissance, featuring the 40-year-old superstar mostly bare with long wavy hair, saddled on a glowing silver horse. She’s positioned so that the top half of her body faces forward as she stares down the camera.
“Creating this album allowed me a place to dream and to find escape during a scary time for the world,” she wrote in the caption. “It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration. I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are.”
Then on July 22, a week before the new album arrived, Bey revealed the art for the limited-edition vinyl. Similar to the official album cover, the vinyl features Bey on the Patronus-like horse, but the background features a painting of a horse that harkens back to Renaissance-era art, and the singer is dressed in a silver outfit that covers her up more than in the original.