Beyoncé: BOOM!

Last night, Beyoncé released a new album, a year and a half in the making, directly to iTunes.
As the West Coast was tucking into bed Thursday night, the singer rolled out one of the best-kept secrets in recent music history: the album she’s spent the past year teasing was now available for purchase on iTunes.

The self-titled set comes as a "visual album" featuring 14 new tracks and 17 music videos.

...Working with Jay Z, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, Pharrell Williams, Drake, the Dream, Sia, Ryan Tedder, Miguel, Frank Ocean and Hit Boy, the singer churned out her most ambitious project to date, without ever actually saying she was putting out an album any time soon.

"I didn't want to release my music the way I've done it. I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There's so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans," Beyonce said in the album's announcement on Thursday.

"I felt like I didn't want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out," she added. "I just want this to come out when it's ready and from me to my fans."

...The move is stunning, and virtually unheard of, especially considering how the hype machine -- singles, performances, interviews etc. -- that propels pop music up the charts is often treated as equally, if not more important than the work itself.

With her latest work, Beyonce proved she wanted the work to speak for itself -- a luxury rarely afforded to an act of her caliber.

She not only changed the game with the move -- she claimed it.
This isn't a review, because I haven't heard it yet (although the clips I've heard, e.g., are terrific). I just love that she dropped her new album this way.

Don't love: That the usual criticisms and wielding of the feminist yardstick will follow. Fuck. That. I don't believe any individual woman owes anything to feminism, especially when that expectation defines feminism via privilege—a privilege that tends to inform criticisms that elide the particular narratives and oppressions that don't affect white, straight, thin, cis, wealthy and/or educated women.

Anyway. I have no idea how Beyoncé survives and thrives inside a fishbowl of incessant, aggressive judgment. I am utterly in awe of her tenacity.

And I congratulate her on her new album, and her ownership of its release.

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