A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this unofficial release from Beyonce is a fairly radical departure from anything she has recorded before. Combining Southern-style swagger rap with a heavy trap beat, B stays current and makes a statement that she's "the number one chick," and that she's independent and powerful. Be aware that there's more profanity here than in most Beyonce songs ("bitches," "ass," "s--t," "damn"). There's also some consumerism and a mention of alcohol.
What's the story?
Harkening back to her Houston hip-hop roots, this larger-than-life pop icon proves she can still have fun and get the party started. First made available on Soundcloud, this unannounced single combines two snippets: the first half of the song is a boastful melody with the hook "Bow Down Bitches," while the latter part is an extended pitched-down rap verse filled with images of her childhood and shout-outs to her hometown heroes. There's a fair amount of bad language in the lyrics, but the self-promotion is all in good fun, if a bit in your face.
Is it any good?
Fans of Beyonce may be surprised by this new sound, but it's certainly not far off from the prevailing contemporary style of the day. The production by rising star Hit Boy is excellent; this track will fit well into any DJ's set. The "Bow Down" segment is catchy and intriguingly personal, but the "I Been On" screwed and chopped section feels too long and slightly uninspired. While it's good to see such a typically serious artist let loose a little, one can't help but wonder what motivated this peculiar addition to her catalogue, or her choice to repeatedly use the word "bitch" after her husband Jay-Z has already officially come forward to repudiate his own usage of the slur.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can discuss Beyonce's progression from her Destiny's Child days through the development of her solo career. Why do you think she has been able to maintain such popularity through different styles?
Why do you think Beyonce included a large section of pitched-down, "screwed and chopped" vocals? Why do you think that sound is so prevalent in hip-hop right now?
This song was digitally released on tumblr via the artist-friendly distribution website Soundcloud. Why would an established artist on a major label choose to reach out to her fans through these relatively underground platforms?