*What a great way to finish off the celebration of June Black Music month tribute with an article on one of the hardest working women in the business, uberstar Beyoncé. Now the triple threat (singer actor, dancer) has teamed with Target Corporation (NYSE: TGT) for the exclusive deluxe edition of her fourth solo album, 4. The deluxe edition of 4 is executive produced by Beyoncé Knowles.
4 is now available for pre-order at Target.com/Beyonce and will be offered at Target stores nationwide and online beginning June 28, 2011. A digital version of the deluxe edition is available at Target.com.
The multi-Grammy Award-winning artist is as ecstatic about her new adventure as her fans that have grown to love her and hold her in high regard because of the respect she continues to show for them by never associating her name or anything about herself in a negative way. “My fans will be so excited about my new album because I put my heart and soul into creating something that’s personal and honest.”
Inspired by a variety of music genres she loves, Beyoncé refers to the songs on 4 as her “musical gumbo.” The new collection of ballads, mid and up-tempos incorporates live instrumentation, classic songwriting and Beyoncé’s undeniable vocal ability.
The Target deluxe album includes three additional new songs from Beyoncé as well as three remixes and bonus video footage. The new tracks exclusive to Target are: “Lay Up Under Me,” “Schoolin’ Life” and “Dance For You.”
The anticipation for what’s next from Beyoncé reached a fever pitch at the end of her last sold-out tour in 2010. With three successful solo albums behind her how does she write her next musical chapter? First she stood still, reflected on the wildly successful international tour, and then took almost a year off to enjoy life’s simple pleasures taking time to enjoy all of the inspiration that was around her.
4, her fourth studio album following, Dangerously In Love, B’Day, and I Am…Sasha Fierce, is a risk-taker and a bold statement. “If people can predict your next move,” she states, “it’s not that interesting.” This is Beyoncé at her unpredictable best. A twelve-song collection that the artist describes as her musical “gumbo.” It quite literally mixes all of the genres she loves into one intriguing musical melting pot that employs the full gamut of her vocal ability.
The new collection emphasizes mid-tempos and ballads over dance tracks and displays a treasure of songs that are filled with huge choruses, twelve-part harmonies, bridges and exhilarating guitar solos. This is a nod to some of the great eras of music from an international artist who intends to shake things up.
Beyoncé approached the recording of this album from a place of relaxation with no pressure from anyone. She co-wrote all the songs, with the exception of “I Was Here,” penned by Diane Warren; and co-produced on every track. She recorded over seventy songs at her own pace.
From her travels around the world where she says for the first time she was able to see with eyes wide open and soak it all in, to listening to her favorite old jams, to taking ten hours a day discovering new music and artists, to harkening back to her skills as an actress, the inspiration for 4 is vast.
“For the first time in my life I was able to travel the world, hear different influences, see different types of dance and choreography and taste different types of food,” she begins. “It was important that I was able to digest everything. It inspired purity, more heart and more love.”
Recalling favorites like Earth, Wind and Fire, Fela Kuti, The Chi-Lites, Babyface (who is a co-writer on “Best Thing I Never Had,” the album’s second single) and Boyz ll Men, Beyoncé looked at the 70s and 90s for her biggest inspirations.
“I wanted to go back to the source,” she explains. “I really liked mixing the 90s with the 70s. I put those two together and it was so much fun putting bridges back into songs, all the things in music that I love that I feel I just want to hear again.”
For the pureness of her vocal delivery on 4, she turned to her other career as an actress where she learned to lose herself in order to deliver something that comes from deep within her soul. She credits playing Etta James in the film “Cadillac Records” for this inspiration, to completely deny her insecurities and become naked and vulnerable.
To keep the sincerity and emotional honesty of the songs, she sang everything just once. The Songs: “1+1,” written by Terius Nash, Christopher Stewart and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Terius “The-Dream” Nash and C. “Tricky” Stewart; “I Care,” written by Jeff Bhasker, Chad Hugo and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Jeff Bhasker. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles; “I Miss You,” written by Frank Ocean, Shea Taylor and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor;
“Best Thing I Never Had,” written by Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio Dixon, Beyoncé Knowles, Patrick “j.Que” Smith, Shea Taylor, Larry Griffin, Jr. and Caleb McCampbell. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio Dixon, Shea Taylor and S1 & Caleb; “Party” (featuring André 3000), written by K. West, Jeff Bhasker, Beyoncé Knowles, Dexter R. mills, Douglas Davis and Ricky Walters. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Kanye West. Co-produced by Jeff Bhasker.
“Rather Die Young,” written by Jeff Bhasker, Luke Steele and Beyoncé Knowles. Produced by Jeff Bhasker. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Luke Steele; “Start Over,” written by Shea Taylor, Beyoncé Knowles and E. Dean. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor; “Love on Top,” written by Beyoncé Knowles, Terius Nash and Shea Taylor. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor.
“Countdown” written by Terius Nash, Shea Taylor, Beyoncé Knowles, E. Dean, Cainon Lamb, Julie Frost, Michael Bivins, Nathan Morris and Wanya Morris. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor; “End of Time” written by Beyoncé Knowles , Terius Nash, Shea Taylor and David Taylor. Produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Terius “The-Dream” Nash. Additional production by Switch.
“I Was Here” written by Diane Warren. Produced by Ryan Tedder and Brent Kutzle. Vocal produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Kuk Harrell; “Run the World (Girls)” written by Terius Nash, Beyoncé Knowles, Wesley Pentz, David Taylor, Adidja Palmer and Nick van de Wall. Produced by Switch and Terius “The-Dream” Nash. Co-produced by Beyoncé Knowles and Shea Taylor.
4, named for Beyoncé’s favorite and luckiest number as well as marking her fourth solo studio album, is a well-stated musical progression for the artist. The themes of female empowerment, independence and self-worth are still here, especially on the lead single, “Run the World (Girls), but as Beyoncé explains, when you grow as a person it’s only natural to extend that growth to one’s music. Love in all its opposing sides of ecstasy and heartbreak are here, too, from the deliberate yearning of “1+1” to the urgent, dismissive aforementioned, “Best Thing I Never Had.”
Beyoncé calls the collection her most personal yet and acknowledges that it reflects a more mature Beyoncé in every way. “The album definitely is an evolution. It’s bolder than the previous music on my other albums because I feel like I’m bolder. ”
“Beyoncé’s fans are clamoring for her new album and Target is the only retailer giving them extra songs and video from their favorite artist,” said John Butcher, vice president of Entertainment, Target. “Beyoncé played an active role in the production of the Target deluxe edition, making sure the content would give fans an even greater glimpse into the personal journey that inspired her latest music.”
In addition to the new tracks, the Target deluxe album edition has more than 17 minutes of extra club remixes of “Run the World (Girls),” the album’s lead single released in April of this year. DJ and producer Kaskade and legendary remix producers Redtop and Jochen Simms all contributed to the bonus music. Also found only on the Target deluxe album is an exclusive version of the “Run the World (Girls)” music video.
Target also produced a TV spot for the deluxe edition of Beyoncé’s new album. The spot begins airing June 24 and features one of Beyoncé’s new songs, “Countdown.” It reveals the artistic process behind the album, as well as some of the important moments in Beyoncé’s life that inspired the songs on 4.
Beyoncé has sold more than 75 million records and is one of the most notable artists in the world, having earned a total of 16 Grammy Awards – 13 as a solo artist and three as a member of Destiny’s Child. Beyoncé’s fame blossomed in the ‘90s as lead singer of the group, which became one of the best-selling music ensembles of all time.
Later Beyoncé released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love, which produced the No. 1 hits: “Crazy in Love” and “Baby Boy,” making it one of the most successful albums of 2003. Beyoncé’s sophomore album and subsequent third studio release produced the household hits “Irreplaceable,” “Beautiful Liar” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
It also earned her a top spot on the Billboard 200 chart. In 2008, I am… Sasha Fierce earned six Grammy Awards – the most Grammys ever won by a female artist in one night. Beyoncé was honored this May at the 2011 Billboard Music Awards with the Millennium Award.
“What is the definition of perfection…or the closest thing to it? Beyoncé. Icons are made. Stars are born. From the moment Beyoncé took her first breath, her star was shining. What an honor it is for me to say that I danced with a true star. Or wrote. Same thing. :),” stated co-writer Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds whom Beyoncé describes as one of the greatest songwriters of all time, calling him “the source.”
Minneapolis-based Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) serves guests at 1,755 stores in 49 states nationwide and at Target.com. In addition, the company operates a credit card segment that offers branded proprietary credit card products.
Since 1946, Target has given 5 percent of its income through community grants and programs; today, that giving equals more than $3 million a week. For more information about Target’s commitment to corporate responsibility, visit Target.com/hereforgood.
Audrey J. Bernard is an established chronicler of Black society and Urban happenings based in the New York City area.