This was a year of change and tumult, but if anything has remained consistent through it all, it's been Beyoncé's greatness.

This year, she consistently outdid herself and gave us incredible work, releasing one project after another and reminding us all to reconnect with our power and rise up again and again.

It's her 38th birthday, so here are some highlights from her 37th year on Earth.

1. The Homecoming Documentary

On April 29, Homecoming dropped on Netflix. The chill-inducing documentary details Beyoncé's incredible 2018 Coachella performance, showing the nuances of her choreography, costume design, and flawless dancing in high-definition. Though it sometimes highlights the unattainability of Beyoncé's lifestyle, that's kind of always been Beyoncé's brand; she's more of a deity than a human being at this point, and we love her for it.

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé | Official Trailer | Netflix www.youtube.com


2. When She Gave Us Homecoming and Lemonade on Streaming Services

If the documentary wasn't enough, Beyoncé dropped two albums on all streaming services—including Lemonade, which had formerly been inaccessible for those without access to Tidal or other roundabout ways of listening to music. Now, we can all listen to the elegant, gloomy harmonies of "Pray You Catch Me" or the radiant rhythms of her iconic hits like "Who Run the World (Girls)" on repeat to our hearts' content.

Beyoncé - Sorry (Video) www.youtube.com


3. When Blue Made Her Singing Debut

Beyoncé's oldest daughter made hearts melt when she lent her voice to a rehearsal of "Lift Every Voice and Sing." As a mother of three, Beyoncé must have her hands full, but she's obviously incorporating her children into her work. Blue has appeared in a lot of Beyoncé's videos and albums by now, and most likely, we'll be getting a surprise release from Blue Ivy one of these days.

Lift Every Voice and Sing Blue s Version Homecoming - Beyonce www.youtube.com

`4. The Lion King

Beyoncé announced that she would be voicing Nala, the leading lioness in Disney's The Lion King, back in 2018, and when the film dropped on July 19, her vocals didn't disappoint. She adds her smooth riffs to "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," her voice fusing seamlessly with Donald Glover's and sometimes eviscerating it (but who can hold up to Beyoncé in a duet, really? Definitely not Ed Sheeran). Thanks to her presence, despite somewhat mixed reviews, the whole film feels like it's wrapped in the glow of her star power.

5. When She Met Meghan Markle

Beyoncé and Meghan Markle's meeting at the UK premier of The Lion King was documented carefully by the press. The two real-life superheroines exchanged some words of support and thoughts about motherhood (and/or world domination), and the Internet celebrated.

hellomagazine.com


6. The Lion King: The Gift

Of course, since it's Beyoncé, she couldn't just star in a movie and call it a day. Instead, she had to also produce and curate a companion album featuring incredible artists from around the world. Called The Gift, the album features 20 artists in total, many hailing from Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa, and Ghana, and it fuses Afrobeats with American hip hop and blends many languages together, bringing much-needed diversity to the Disney brand.

"Spirit" + "Bigger" Extended cut from Disney's The Lion King in theaters now (Official ... www.youtube.com

6. When She Danced to Lizzo at her 38th Birthday Celebration

Two days before her 38th birthday, Beyoncé posted videos of herself celebrating backstage at the Made in America festival in Philadelphia. She was spotted alongside Jay-Z, dancing along to Lizzo, and fans (and Lizzo herself) couldn't have been more thrilled.

Has anybody had a year that compared to Beyoncé's? The only person who could hold a candle to 37-year-old Bey is probably...36-year-old Beyoncé. That year, she gave birth to twins, performed at Coachella, dropped her album Everything Is Love with Jay-Z, and carved a space for herself in the classical art world with the music video she filmed at the Louvre.

Then again, at 34, she released Lemonade, a video that was revolutionary in the way it combines music with poetry and visuals...and the year before, she was named the world's most charitable celebrity.

What will 38-year-old Beyoncé give us? Maybe she'll finally give herself a break—but honestly, we need her strength more than ever nowadays, and after 37 years of excellence, it's probable that she'll deliver. She's a master of multimedia, so the idea that she might forge her way into the virtual reality sphere isn't so hard to imagine, or maybe she'll invent an entirely new form of media in order to highlight her talent. As always, the sky is the limit.

MUSIC

Beyoncé Brings Afrobeats to Mainstream Audiences with "Lion King: The Gift"

"Lion King: The Gift" may be a Beyoncé album, but she's not the standout in her own collaborative production.

Beyoncé in all her glory.

Columbia Records

Beyoncé's Lion King: The Gift is in direct competition with the live-action remake's 2019 soundtrack.

It's difficult to imagine Disney allowing any other artist to challenge the success of their latest production, but Beyoncé has surpassed celebrity—she is a movement, an icon, and a spokesperson for a generation, and her name being associated with the movie can only mean good things for the company, even if her Lion King-inspired album is separate from the movie in which she stars. After all, Disney's remakes have received criticism from the get-go. What was the need for a live-action remake of a movie conceived by a bunch of white executives who referred to the project as "Bambi in Africa?"

Still, Beyoncé's involvement loaned the project credibility, and clearly the artist saw the potential to reclaim the Africa-set narrative to create what she calls "sonic cinema." She worked with "some of her favorite artists [and] the most talented and important African artists of the day to both pay tribute to the iconic film and bring the authentic sounds of African music to the world." Although how authentically and accurately the star's achieved this goal is up for debate, there's no question that Beyoncé was able to use her influence to shine a spotlight on the diverse range of artists, some who even outshine her.

The album begins with James Earl Jones, backed by a soft violin, repeating Mufasa's iconic lines to Simba: "Everything you see exists together in a delicate balance. You need to understand that balance and respect all the creatures. From the crawling ant to the leaping antelope. We're all connected in the great circle of life." This sentiment, that all African people are connected, is emphasized throughout the rest of the album. The interlude is followed by "BIGGER," Beyoncé's lyrical build up to the message,"If you feel insignificant, you better think again / Better wake up because you're apart of something way bigger." It's another reminder that every person is connected to each other and to the earth.

Another poignant interlude spoken by James Earl Jones introduces "FIND YOUR WAY BACK," an R&B, Afrobeat version of Lemonade's "Daddy Issues." Unlike the original, "FIND YOUR WAY BACK" is a filler song with an infectious beat—it seems to exist just to add to the story of The Lion King. It has nothing on the songs that follow: Tekno, Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, and Lord Afrixana's "DON'T JEALOUS ME" and Burna Boy's "JA ARA E." Both tracks are danceable but in distinctly different ways. The gritty and visceral "DON'T JEALOUS ME" produces a teeth-clenching, head-bouncing effect—it's captivating and mystifying, while "JA ARA E" is a hip-swinging, sexy summer anthem.

The Nigerian Afro-fusion artists highlight exactly what the Western world is missing out on, musically. The variety and simple good vibes could create a cultural moment for Afro-fusion in Western mainstream music, similar to what "Despacito" did or Latin Pop (minus Justin Bieber, thankfully).

Next, "NILE" and "MOOD 4EVA" keep the album's soulful momentum going, despite the many interludes beginning to bog down the bops. Kendrick Lamar's classic rap delivery on "NILE" sets up another one of his iconic beat-drops. But, in the last thirty seconds of the track, Beyoncé's textured vocals end too quickly, making "NILE" feel incomplete. "MOOD 4EVA" captures all that was successful about The Carter's EVERYTHING IS LOVE album. Beyoncé's voracious performance and enchanting, oozing confidence outperform Jay-Z's. Beyoncé outdoes him with lyrics like, "Piña colada-in' / you stay Ramada Inn," and concluding with, "I be like soul food / I am a whole mood." Unfortunately, the song's low-point is Childish Gambino's feature, which only makes a minor contribution to the already electrifying mood.

At the album's halfway mark, the majority of the noteworthy tracks have already passed. "BROWN SKIN GIRL" and "MY POWER" are the only tracks left that stick in the mind of listeners. The sweet-natured, empowering "BROWN SKIN GIRL" begins with Blue Ivy Carter's first singing performance. Then Nigerian artist WizKid aids the celebratory track, which speaks directly to the brown skin girls of the world. The song separates itself from the rest of the album as an easier, mellower, lullaby-inspired song, while still positioning black people at the center of the celebration.

Conversely, up-and-coming rapper, Tierra Whack, leads "MY POWER" with the declaration, "They'll never take my power / They feel a way, oh wow"—celebrating all black women and what they're capable of. On the track, South African artists—Moonchild Sanelly and Busiswe—gloriously sing African praises, injecting the song with an emboldened, unwavering verse.

The rest of the album has its individual, exceptional moments, like Beyoncé's almost holy vocals on "OTHERSIDE" and Jessie Reyez's ingenious verse on "SCAR." But, still, only six out of the fourteen main tracks succeed in creating something new, inspiring, and other-worldly. The other interludes strip

Lion King: The Gift of cohesion and flow. But still, with The Lion King: The Gift, Beyoncé has cemented her legacy of celebrating black experiences and art by bringing African musical influences to Western, mainstream audiences. If there was any doubt left that Beyoncé is more than just an indomitable vocalist, surely it's been dispelled once and for all by this album. Lion King: The Gift demonstrates what is possible when collaboration occurs across borders to create cross-cultural, truly globalized music.


The Lion King: The Gift

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Rumors of Beyonce Jay Z marriage problems have been swirling pretty much since they tied the knot.

However, if Beyonce's holiday snaps are to be believed, Jay Z's got 99 problems but his marriage ain't one.

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