In 2013, Beyoncé made the music behemoths bend the knee when she surprise-dropped her album Beyoncé and reshaped music release strategies. Then, Beyoncé redefined Coachella from the world’s premier music festival into that thing in a California desert where Bey performed once. And even on the day she released HOMECOMING—the concert film and documentary about her world-shattering Coachella performance—none of that is enough for Beyoncé, because now she is here to claim ownership of The Electric Slide by covering Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go.”
To everyone that doesn’t know, Frankie Beverly and Maze’s “Before I Let Go” is damn near the black national anthem. Show up to any black college graduation party next month and you’ll see everyone—from kids that shouldn’t be old enough to walk to grandparents that are definitely too old to walk—stepping in unison to “Before I Let Go.” Beyoncé’s version begins with a roaring crowd, which makes sense because that’s the feeling that overcomes any rational person once they hear that opening Maze instrumentation—a signal that it’s time to fuck it up before the night ends so put your hair in a bun and tie your Air Maxes tight. Then, she adds a twist to the cover, Tay Keith’s tag is here, and you’re unsure if Bey wants everyone to slide or make a Triller video—the answer is both (duh!).
That’s only the first 10 seconds! Directly following the tag, the marching-band horns that belong at a Howard vs. Hampton football game halftime blare and hi-hats made for a BlocBoy JB shoot dance rattle. This all sounds like it’s a mess, but the arrangement is stellar. Beyoncé even hits the signature Frankie Beverly note that lasts an eternity on the hook. And as the song moves on and an interpolation of Cameo’s “Candy” becomes more prominent, Beyoncé adds her signature touches: dreamy harmonization and chant-worthy ad-libs. “Before I Let Go” isn’t only a showcase of Beyoncé’s power and invincibility, it’s an awareness of black culture that most in her tax bracket would ignore and exist freely in their rich person bubble. Thankfully, Beyoncé cares enough to give us this perfect pairing of two black staples that will live long after we’re dead.