The Carters, “Everything Is Love”

The Carters
Everything Is Love
ROC NATION/PARKWOOD
7/10

I hate that this first-ever full-blown duet disc between the married, moneyed Carters is being billed as an unplanned grand finale to the freak outs, follies, and forgiveness found within Beyoncé’s Lemonade and JAY-Z’s 4:44. Everything Is Love, the celebration of marriage and all of its foibles, is but the last chapter in a premeditated, pre-planned victory.

From Bey grousing about Becky with the good hair to JAY-Z’s newfound humility in the face of being caught: I don’t believe a word of it. The supposed sordid affairs, betrayals, and penances recorded separately by the pair were a drama-building canard with Everything Is Love as its co-joined, charming denouement dedicated to entrepreneurial spirit and nuptial love. Everything between them that is supposedly intimate and personal was but a run-up to the light-and-airy pair-off that will be this summer’s On the Run II Tour.

Then again, why wouldn’t the thought of teasing audiences with strife between its royal couple—he, the hustler/CEO with a Peter Pan complex; she, Destiny’s (soul) child-turned-innovative pop queen—be an irresistible opportunity, especially when you consider the potency of what their union would sound like truly unified? No one could elevate black money and black status and black attainment to the heights that The Carters do, because no other couple in America has been able to create such dynamic and inventive work and earnings. Sometimes, they boast more than enough about their wealth—and that’s tiresome—but more often than not they use their cash (or at least its talk) to display human potential in all its garrulous glory.

“I got real problems just like you,” grouses Beyoncé on “Boss,” a riveting rhythmic cut meant to remind you of the humanity beyond the headlines. More of an experimental hip-hop album than most of her pop efforts, Bey takes to rapping through effects pedals and AutoTune wriggles with giddy aplomb. Make no mistake, though, she’s the majordomo missus with the cutting, bittersweet attitude; an axe to grind, a humanity to portray, and a series of scores to settle against everyone from Spotify (“My success can’t be quantified”) to her own husband’s braggadocio. “You fucked up the first stone,” she cackles in response to Hova’s toast to extravagance and Chaumet diamonds.

For his part (or at least those of his lyrical éclat), JAY-Z plays second fiddle/dutiful husband to Bey’s lead, and does so with his usual rubbery flow and haughtiness. When he chirps, “It’s Beyoncé, oh my god,” on “Heard About Us,” or spits “She went crazy!” on “Apeshit,” Jay does so in reverence of the woman he loves and the artist he respects. Jay saves harsh words and aggressive tones for the union of Kim and Kanye, the Grammys, and all those who refuse to give him props for his role in the #FreeMeekMill movement.

But the album’s finest, most finessed, and buggiest tracks—the future/forward “LoveHappy,” the caustic “Apeshit” (listen to Bey growling “Put some respeck on my check,” priceless), and “Black Effect”—are the ones where both voices get their say.

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