Beyoncé has never been one to stick to tradition or to announce when she's about to drop something, so it's really no surprise that she just released a 40-track live album called Homecoming in conjunction with her new Netflix documentary.

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

The album, which dropped at 10 AM on Wednesday morning, is a collection of the singer's greatest hits, ranging from "Single Ladies" to Destiny's Child's "Say My Name." It also includes rarities such as two covers of the hymn often called the Black national anthem—"Lift Every Voice and Sing"—first sung a cappella by an emotional Beyoncé as a lead-in to "Formation," and later by Bey and Jay-Z's daughter, Blue Ivy.

Blue, who recorded the track in the audience at one of her mom's rehearsals, has obviously inherited some of her parents' love of the spotlight; at the end of the song she exclaims, "I wanna do that again because it feels good!"

Lift Every Voice and Sing (Blue's Version - Homecoming Live) www.youtube.com

B7 also features Jay-Z and J Balvin and concludes with a new studio track—a cover of the song "Before I Let Go" by Frankie Beverly and Maze, originally released in 1981 and first covered by Destiny's Child in 1997.

As if the album alone wasn't enough of a gift, it's available on all streaming platforms. On it, you can hear Beyoncé's vocals—silky and flawless as ever—layered over complicated new brass-heavy arrangements and the distant screams of the infatuated crowd. Supercharged with electric energy, it's a straight shot of the empowerment and magnetism that has gained Beyoncé her well-deserved status as an inimitable icon of our times.

June's Diary performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" live at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore www.youtube.com

The album comes as a surprise companion piece to Beyoncé's Netflix documentary, which debuted last night at Howard University and Houston's Southern Texas University—appropriate venues, as her Coachella performance featured a massive marching band and sets inspired by the aesthetics of historically black colleges. It follows her 2018 performance from conceptualization to fruition and features interviews and intimate behind-the-scenes footage.

Beyonce Coachella hot Image via Society19

The critically lauded set marked the first time in the festival's 11-year history that an African American woman headlined it, and 2018 will forever be marked in history as the year of Beychella. But then again, every year is Bey's year—she's been steadily creating extraordinary multimedia works of art for the past decade, with each event—from the Super Bowl to Lemonade—further fortifying her legacy as music's eternal queen, one surprise release at a time.


Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.


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MUSIC

REVIEW | Michael Nau takes his sweet time on “Some Twist”

MUSIC | Nau's sophomore album is calm artistry amidst a world of stars proving themselves.

In a highly saturated industry where anyone can post their songs online and theoretically become a star overnight, Michal Nau's music feels like the sort of calm, collected approach to music that can only be taken by someone comfortable in who they are and what they're capable of. His follow-up to his 2016 solo debut Mowing sees Nau sure in his style and precise in his musical choices.

"Good Thing" opens the LP, with vocals coming in soon but not too quick. Lighthearted and image-heavy, the song plunks out chords on the piano while Nau's voice warms the ears of his listeners. Lyrics invite the listener in gently to his world, speaking of sweet pictures like "The bird flies light in a heavy frame. Maybe it just learned to be alive and not regret the pain."

After "I Root," a breezy follow-up, "Wonder" dips down, a little slower and a little quieter, a ponderous tune of simpler love. The words are sung softly, as if Nau were singing directly into the ear of his beloved. The pace picks back up with "How You're So For Real," with fuzzy snares and brash guitar once again. It is almost as if Nau had taken a Black Keys song and toned it down. "Scumways" leans a little further into a West-Coast surf groove. Some synth and beachy guitar guitar hooks slide together under lines like "Come on out into the dark. Everything's a shadow" that are nonetheless sung with an optimistic candor.

After a brief piano interlude on "Oh, You Wanna Bet?" the focus turns back to Nau's guitar. "Waiting Too" is a musing acoustic piece before the jazzier "Scatter," which adds some percussive intrigue on the woodblock to balance the muted vocals and synth. Though he guitar levels are low, the swinging call-and-response with his voice make for a pleasant musical exchange. "The Load" features layers of frenetic saxophone solos that lift it from a feel-good tune to a jumping

Some Twist's track progress is its strongest feature. Nau has a knack for keeping his listener's interest, not just throughout a song but over the course of the album. He flexes his skill in both slower waltzes and choppier tunes without blinking. He does not need to shred the guitar to be heard. Its weakest point, though, is Nau's enunciation. His lyrics are well-crafted; candid without sacrificing a sense of evocativeness or sincerity. But occasionally he breathes the words out gently, letting the sonic allure of soft-spoken lines get in the way of being able to understand what he's saying. It's a shame; his guitar echoes and strums do enough of the work of creating a blurred and gentle soundscape that he could be a little more pointed in pronunciation without killing the mood.

Closing track "Light That Ever" pulls a feat unexpected and most likely specific to Midwestern listeners - if one listens to it alone in their bedroom during the muggy evening of a sweltering summer day, a sense of longing and nostalgia for tornado season rises up. Something about driving down two-lane county highways with the windows rolled down and the humidity threatening all sorts of weather is evoked in Nau's steady piano arpeggios and the way he sings the lyrics with not a hint of a rush.

"I know it doesn't make the world go round. They're trying to tell that to my heart, what does and doesn't matter."

It closes the album off perfectly: with hope and optimism that we could all use a cool glass of right about now.

Rising Star

Who needs banks when you have Shoe Box

MUSIC|Ahead of their new album, SWAG MAG MILLI and LUCCHO release "Shoe Box"

"Why keep my money in a bank when I can have it all with me, in a shoebox."

This is what Swag Mag Milli tells me when I ask him about his latest single, "Shoebox". Leading up to the joint album release of Max Babies, the two Maryland rappers, Swag Mag Milli and Luccho have been busy spending late nights in the studio. finalizing an album that is an ode to home and a way of life.

The whole concept of this album is organic. Swag and Luccho grew up together since they were seven on the same street the album is named for, available on Spinrilla today. The boys would keep the money they saved in a shoebox, and the idea for the song and video were born. It reminds me of the videos from the early 2000s done better. Better production, better visuals but an ode to the "just gotta make it, here's my story" videos that put many southern rappers on the map. Take a look at the video below.