This is a duo for the ages. While many fans awaited the release of Nas’ Kanye-produced album, The Carters had other plans. Beyoncé is getting pretty good at this surprise release thing. Out of nowhere, international power couple JAY-Z and Queen Bey dropped a monstrous joint album. Rumors circulated the Internet for months, yet no album appeared. However, on a beautiful Saturday morning, we received something special. Well, Tidal subscribers did, at least. Fans will cherish EVERYTHING IS LOVE for months to come. Backed by a succulent instrumental palette, the duo take a well-deserved victory lap. Although much of Hov’s career follows this approach, bravado fits this project well. Both artists are coming off huge releases. Beyoncé’s Lemonade is so far the only album to garner a MASTERPIECE score from yours truly. Additionally, JAY-Z’s 4:44 reached ACCLAIM status in its review. Endless possibilities circled my mind upon pressing play.
This opener is stunning. There was no better choice here. “Let’s make love in the summertime,” Knowles sings. A perfect genesis for the trials their love endured over the last two-plus years. While heavily publicized, the Carters’ marriage stands strong against accusations and confirmations. Bey’s latest solo effort portrayed the inner workings of a disgruntled spouse’s mind. She laid it all on the line rather than laying low and taking one on the chin. I’m not sure how close she came to leaving Hov. However, their love survives via honest artistry. Last summer, JAY-Z apologized for his actions in a ten-track offering. He reciprocated his wife’s energy in hopes of forgiveness. This is soap opera-level drama, folks. It’s always a little odd to me when I see private matters unfold like this. Makes me glad I’m not famous. Let’s get back to the music, though.
To go along with the album, The Carters released visuals for “APESH*T,” the lead single. In the music video Beyoncé and JAY-Z flaunt their bossy prestige by recording in the world-famous Louvre art museum in Paris, France. Wow. Do you know how much it costs to rent out The Louvre? I don’t. But I assume it’s a shit ton of money. Themes of power, influence and net worth permeate this collaborative feat. Although many artists butcher these topics, The Carters finesse their way through nine tracks with grace. Jay’s pen hasn’t lost a step. The album’s best overall track, “BLACK EFFECT,” supports my claim:
“I made my own waves so now they’re anti-Tidal / I’m livin’ the no sock life despite you / Since the Kalief doc, they’ve been at my neck / Y’all can tell ’em Trayvon is comin’ next / The SEC, the FBI or the IRS / I pass the alphabet boys like an eye test”
Somebody grab a needle ’cause those rhymes were lethal. (See what I did there?) Despite a couple dull moments like “BOSS” and “HEARD ABOUT US,” the album mostly slaps. Those songs are still solid, by the way. They just lose steam with extended listens. While Pharrell’s appearance on “NICE” went over well, I could’ve used one more feature. “APESH*T” includes ad-libs from Quavo and Offset. They basically wrote the song, outside of Jay’s verse of course. Yet I can’t help but wish it was a Migos song rather than a Carters track. Even though Beyoncé goes hard, and raps wonderfully across these 38 minutes, spitting about watches, Forbes lists, and Lambos reduces her artistic allure for me personally. This is a fun project nonetheless. I’m happy it finally came out. And although I wished for more overall substance, this duo’s chemistry more than makes up for it.
Following extended listens this album is quite forgettable. All of these tracks, even the ones I enjoy, lost practically all their steam. I haven’t found a specific mood in which I want to return to EVERYTHING IS LOVE. Despite boasting smooth, cohesive production, the songs here leave much to be desired. None of these tracks are horrible, though none of them are truly that special either. “BLACK EFFECT” and “SUMMER” still slap. However, there are other tracks that give off a similar vibe that I would rather hear. All the material is above-average. Nothing here breaks the mold nonetheless. Perhaps their next joint effort will cover new ground for these two iconic artists.