Three hours before the announced release time of her new single, Beyonce surprise-dropped “Break My Soul,” the first single from her forthcoming seventh solo studio album “Renaissance,” and it’s the Bey jam fans have been waiting for: A driving dance track co-produced by the “Single Ladies” team of Tricky Stewart and The-Dream, with a plinking, insistent hook, a hot beat and periodic exhortations from Big Freedia.
“Release your anger, release your mind/ Release your job, release the time/ Release your trade, release the stress/ Release the love, forget the rest.”
Also in the writing credits are Jay-Z, Adam Pigott (a.k.a BlaqNmilD, who’s worked with Drake, Quavo, Megan Thee Stallion and many others), Freddie Ross, a.k.a Big Freedia, and the writers of Robin S’s 1993 hit “Show Me Love,” which is prominently sampled in the song.
For her part, Bey is on message with both her return and the disco theme of the song: The title is flipped by saying “You won’t break my soul,” and a statement of intent follows:
“I’mma let down my hair ’cause I lost my mind
Bey is back and I’m sleeping real good at night
The queen’s in the front and the Dom’s in the back
Ain’t taking no flicks but the whole clique snapped.”
It’s filled with dancefloor-friendly lines like: “Motivation/ I’m looking for a new foundation/ I’m on that new vibration/ I’m building my own foundation” and a repeated exhortation of “Everybody.”
In an apparent slight to major streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, the song initially appeared only on Tidal — the streaming service co-owned by Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z — three hours before its announced release time of midnight ET, and on Vevo/YouTube an hour or so later. Beyonce has a history of this: Her 2016 “Lemonade” album was available only on Tidal for three years, a move that likely cost her millions in streaming royalties.
Beyonce announced early Thursday that the long-expected album will be arriving on July 29. Sources tell Variety that the album will feature both dance and country-leaning tracks, the source says, with contributions from hit songwriter Ryan Tedder, who co-wrote her 2008 hit “Halo” as well as hits for Adele, Taylor Swift, the Jonas Bros. and his own group, OneRepublic. Also said to be involved is Raphael Saadiq, who has crafted hits for Mary J. Blige, D’Angelo, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and Andra Day as well as his own excellent solo albums, and executive-produced “A Seat at the Table,” Beyoncé’s sister Solange’s widely praised 2016 album.
It was unclear whether the country songs will appear as a separate album, or as part of the first edition of “Renaissance.” Country is not new terrain for the singer: “Daddy Lessons,” from 2016’s “Lemonade,” is heavy on twang and was even covered by the Chicks (then known as the Dixie Chicks).
Fans have already sleuthed information suggesting that the album will contain 16 tracks, and the fact that it is a multi-part release is clear from the face that it is billed as “Act 1.” Beyoncé’s website also featured pre-orders on four different boxed sets for the album, billed “Pose” 1-4 and including a CD, T-shirt and a box. However, since they all ship on the day of the album’s release, it seems likely that they’re just different packages for “Act 1.”
The singer sounded the alarm that something was coming earlier this month, when she wiped her social media accounts, which, as evidence by the lack of profile pictures, still have not been fully repopulated.
Beyoncé actually has released four albums since her blockbuster 2016 outing “Lemonade,” although none of them are full Beyoncé solo albums: In 2018, she dropped “Everything Is Love,” a tag-team with husband Jay-Z under the name The Carters; in April of 2019, she released “Homecoming,” an album of her galvanizing 2018 headlining performance at Coachella, for which she was accompanied by a full marching band (which was also released as a Netflix special as part of a $60 million deal ; and that summer she followed with “The Lion King: The Gift,” a companion album to the Disney film that featured several new songs from her — featuring contributions from Kendrick Lamar, Donald Glover and others — as well as songs featuring 070 Shake, Tierra Whack and African artists like Burna Boy, Mr. Eazi, Tiwa Savage and others; a deluxe edition of that album featuring three additional tracks was released a year later.