The Carters – Everything is Love (8/10)
“Nobody wins when the family feuds,” Jay-Z rapped on, well, “Family Feud” from 2017’s 4:44.
That statement makes plenty of sense for the traditional nuclear family. For The Carters, everyone else won when the family feuded.
First, Beyonce released Lemonade, a genius-level-work following a decades-long career of pop and R&B smashes. The audio-visual masterpiece aired her husband’s dirty laundry, while also addressing the plight of black women in America.
Then, a year later Jay-Z releases 4:44, his best record since 2007’s American Gangster. Jay accepted his role as an elder statesman. He faced himself as a man, husband and father by admitting his mistakes.
Now, America’s true first couple have renewed their marriage. On Saturday afternoon, they surprised us with their first collaborative album, Everything is Love. It’s a victory lap about rediscovering love and releasing two platinum albums while doing it. While Lemonade was anguish and 4:44 was an apology, Everything is Love is resolution and strength.
“What’s better than one billionaire? Two,” Jay raps later on “Family Feud.”
The Carters are rich beyond imagination. They don’t flex. They’re that rich. Everything almost feels like a throwaway. Bey and Jay could just spend a few nights in the studio while Blue, Rumi and Sir slept and churn this out for the hell of it.
This isn’t Beyonce featuring Jay-Z or Jay-Z featuring Beyonce. This is what marriage should be, an equal partnership. While Jay-Z will never, and should never, be a singer, Beyonce proves to be a real force rapping. It’s a beautiful thing to conquer the charts, and the world, with your spouse.
Everything manipulates a few storylines in the Jay-Z/Beyonce universe. Obviously, the Carters have concluded three years of public marital strife. With Everything, we get a joyous resolution.
The timing of this record heats up two of Jay’s cold wars. Kanye West was the last person to collaborate on an album with him. In 2016, Kanye took shots at Jay-Z at a Saint Pablo show. Everything was released in the middle of Kanye’s five-week five-album rollout.
The latest album in this marathon is Nas’ NASIR, which came out less than 24 hours before the collaboration. Nas and Jay had one of the most aggressive beefs in rap history in 2001. There was a legitimate concern it could come to a Biggie-Tupac-style conclusion. While the two have resolved their differences, Everything mutes NASIR‘s hype.
Lastly, the couple attacks the music and entertainment industry as a whole. On “Apeshit,” Jay takes shots at the Super Bowl and the Grammys claiming he doesn’t need commercial approval. On “Nice,” Bey does the same to Spotify as Lemonade can do real numbers on Tidal. (The album was released on Spotify and Apple Music on Monday. Spotify has not put the album on the new releases page.)
Everything is Love is momentous. It takes us into the Carters’ world where hard work pays off and the riches are bountiful. Not only is this album a testament to their work ethic, but the hardships of marriage. They let us witness them work through something which tears families apart. Many couples wouldn’t forgive each other. The American royals have taken stock of their marriage and it’s worth the challenge.
While they’re world famous, Jay-Z and Beyonce have had a private marriage. This album is prideful of how strong their bond has become. Ultimately, if love cannot make it through the ringer, it may not be love at all.
Best Track: “LOVEHAPPY”