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The Carters: Everything Is Love — for richer and richer

The Carters: Everything Is Love — for richer and richer

June 21
00:47 2018
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“We don’t play with our relationship,” Jay-Z once said of his and Beyoncé’s reticence about the nuts and bolts of their marriage. But that has changed. In recent years the pair have become sharers, even over-sharers — as when the rapper informed their first child that she “was made in Paris” in his 2012 song “Glory”.

Marital strife has prompted another batch of revelations. Beyoncé addressed allegations of her husband’s infidelity in her 2016 album Lemonade and he responded with apologies in his 2017 album 4:44. Now comes a joint album, surprise-released under their marital name The Carters to coincide with their joint stadium tour, “On the Run II”.

Everything Is Love’s title leads one to expect power ballads from the power couple, an expensively schmaltzy glimpse into their luxurious life together, like a deluxe Valentine’s Day edition of MTV Cribs. Much opulent one-upmanship duly ensues, a litany of $5m watches and $40m private jets. But the schmaltz is put on hold.

The songs stake out a space between the pair’s styles, tilted in Beyoncé’s direction: she is the bigger of the two stars these days. Her more adventurous approach finds her variously appearing in the guise of soul music sensualist (“Summer”), trap music rapper (“Apeshit”) and relaxed R&B leader (“Boss”). Jay-Z’s musical style is represented by nods to classic rap (“713”) and the atmospheric sample of Japanese psychedelic band Flower Travellin’ Band running through “Black Effect”.

Both her singing and his raps are done with bravado and technical skill. He is more self-revealing in his lyrics than she is. The theme of African-American success recurs, fused with the successful endurance of their marriage. But this is where the album slips. It fails to move as assuredly between the personal and political as Lemonade and 4:44. The wealth worship has a monotonous and limiting aspect, shrinking the notion of sharing to the gilded world of the twosome and their family.

★★★☆☆

Everything is Love’ is released by Tidal



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