Dropped on us with no warning, a new remix of Beyoncé’s “America has A Problem” has reached fans and non-fans alike, shiny and new with the addition of a surprise Kendrick Lamar verse.
This marks the musical reunion of two of the largest artists in the entire world after seven years when in 2016 Lamar hopped on as a feature to Beyoncé’s iconic album Lemonade. Now in 2023 though, this collab on Renaissance is met with mixed opinions and it has nothing to do with the actual quality of the remix (it’s undoubtedly good).
If you’re big into music or just big into heated Twitter discussions, then you might recall the Lamar controversy of 2022. At that point it had been five years since the release of Lamar’s last album and fans were heavily anticipating the next one, which would be titled Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers. It received critical acclaim and praise, yet there was one song on the track list that proved to be polarizing.
In the track titled “Auntie diaries,” Lamar aims for an ode to two of his trans relatives and attempts a commentary on homophobia. The issues arose when in the song Lamar continuously repeats the slur “Faggot” to demonstrate the homophobia of his youth and how he’d grown from it. Many agreed that saying a slur again and again was an odd way to prove that growth.
At the complete opposite end of the spectrum, Beyoncé’s 2022 album Renaissance celebrities and highlights queer culture and history through music. The album is a love letter to queer artists and is even officially dedicated LGBT changemakers and features the work of numerous queer artists. In a letter to fans the queen said, “Thank you to all the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long.”
Renaissance pulls inspiration from house, disco and bounce music which originated in the underground ballroom culture of the 70’s–safe spaces for queer people to create and show all forms of art, especially music and dance.
So you might be able to see now where the split opinions on the new feature stem from. Putting a man who some agree is homophobic and most agree was insensitive at the least to queer people everywhere onto an album dedicated to queerness is a bold and interesting choice. There is no one right answer or opinion, but none of them are the same. It’s a good song though, so we can fight and bop our heads to it at the same time.
By Kendal Amos, Senior, Chi-Arts