On Juneteenth, the superstar musician and activist surprise-released a new single called “Black Parade,” which she said on Instagram “celebrates you, your voice and your joy.”
“I hope we continue to share joy and celebrate each other, even in the midst of struggle,” she wrote. “Please continue to remember our beauty, strength and power.” The artist added that the song “will benefit Black-owned small businesses,” an extensive list of which she provided on her website.
A sweeping yet fine-grained salute to Blackness in its many forms, “Black Parade” layers Beyoncé’s throaty singing and casually audacious rapping over a low-slung, brass-equipped groove coproduced by the artist and her music director, Derek Dixie, who also played a prominent role on 2016’s “Lemonade.” (Among the eight credited songwriters are Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay-Z.)
“I’m going back to the South, where my roots ain’t watered down,” the Houston native proclaims to open the song, which goes on to mention an “ankh charm on gold chains” and “waist beads from Yoruba.”
Later, Beyoncé situates the track firmly in the present with apparent references to both the COVID-19 pandemic (“Fly on the runway in my hazmat”) and the nationwide protests against racism and police violence (“Rubber bullets bouncing off me”).
“We got rhythm / We got pride,” she chants, “We birth kings / We birth tribes.”
“Black Parade” is Beyoncé’s first solo release since last year’s “Homecoming,” a live album documenting her blockbuster performance at Coachella in 2018, and “The Lion King: The Gift,” which accompanied Disney’s reboot of the family movie (in which she voiced the character of Nala).