The year is 2003. Beyoncé and Jay-Z have just released their new song Crazy in Love. Jay-Z has just rapped the line, “Beyoncé! History in the making!” Did they know they would go on to create history?
Beyoncé’s and Jay-Z’s relationship is yet to go public although many speculated that their on-screen chemistry may indicate there might be something more between them.
Fast forward 16 years, it is now 2019. She has had a 22-year career and broken several records including: highest-paid black recording artist of all time; she won six Grammy’s in one night; and, the first black female artist to headline Coachella with her ground-breaking performance in 2018. The performance definitely made history and has gone on to be made into a documentary film that was released on Netflix on April17th, 2019.
Beyoncé has definitely lived up to the line “History in the making” sung back in 2003.
Beyoncé stated in the documentary that she never got to go to college. Destiny’s Child was her college, but she wanted to create the black culture college experience with steppers, marching bands, singers, and dancers all with “swagger”.
If it isn’t enough that Coachella was her first performance back on stage after giving birth to her twins, the performance was written, directed, and produced by the star herself showing the world her creative prowess and that she deserves the title “Queen”. The film Homecoming allows fans an intimate look into the process of creating this monumental performance, but also the work ethic and sacrifices that it took to get there.
Beyoncé has the ability to reinvent herself which is shown throughout the film. She reinvents herself not in the sense of a new persona, but in the way she mixes new tracks with old tracks, showing the growth and changes that have come with a 22-year career, and then mixing in talks from Nina Simone, O.T. Genasis, Dawn Penn and Sister Nancy. She incorporates cultural touchstones that are centred around African-American tradition and the communal experience of blackness.
Beyoncé is the first black headliner in Coachella’s twenty-year history, not only did she decide to make history by turning up, she then decided to bring other black people along with her, showing what audiences have been missing by excluding her and others like her. Beyoncé wanted to make sure that everyone who had never seen themselves represented felt like they were up on that stage.
What is apparent by her production is the dedication to bring blackness and black culture into what are historically white spaces. Beyoncé uses parts of Malcolm X’s speech to show how the most unprotected woman, and most neglected woman, in America is the black woman while singing her song “Don’t hurt yourself”
Her performance has been praised for her achievements of bringing black culture to the fore, even former First Lady Michelle Obama has praised Beyoncé’s work with a video she released on twitter.
“Girl, you have done it again… Constantly raising the bar for us all and doing it flawlessly. I’d say I’m surprised, but I know who you are. I’ve seen it up close and personal. Girl, you make me so proud and I love you.”
She continued, “Homecoming is informed by the black leaders. Thinkers and poets who have paved the way for folks like us… It is both a celebration and a call to action, you are using this film to inspire the next generation of history makers and record breakers who’ll run the world in the years ahead.”
Many will look back on Homecoming and the performance and know they were part of a historical moment and Jay-Z was right all those years ago when he said “History in the making” as history has been made in so many ways since that one line.
Beyoncé has lifted others as she climbed to the top. She has made her presence known and set up shop with other black creatives in ways that demonstrate they have not always belonged, but the space is theirs now; changed by their presence and are better for it.