Last year, like her husband this year, Beyoncé went into the Grammys as the most-nominated artist on the strength of Lemonade, widely considered to be a masterpiece. The Recording Academy let her win the “urban” category. Album of the Year, the crown category, went to Adele. Beyoncé has never won album of the year. Adele has won it twice. So has Taylor Swift.
But, as I wrote last year, she knew. She knew what would happen before we knew what would happen. And she planned accordingly. Did she also know what would happen last night? That Jay-Z would be shut out in all 8 of the categories he was nominated in? I think she did.
If there was a chance that her husband was winning any awards for an album that she made possible, for an album that was basically recorded on his knees, prostrating himself in front of her, would she have wanted her eyes to be covered while he was on stage, offering the most public declaration of contrition to her?
PEOPLE spoke to Sir John, Beyoncé’s makeup artist. Here’s what he said about the sunglasses:
“When I found out she wanted to wear [the sunglasses], there was a huge tug of war between us!”
Right. Because he knew that if she wore the sunglasses, they weren’t coming off. You can’t take sunglasses off midway through an event. Not when you’re Beyoncé. Because they leave marks on either side of the nose. Beyoncé always intended to keep those sunglasses on the whole night. Because she knew she wouldn’t have to take them off. That’s also why she showed up late, not bothering with the non-broadcast categories. Because she always knows.
So, instead, she used the entire Grammy weekend to send some messages. First, we saw Beyoncé on Saturday at the Roc Nation brunch. Kathleen just posted about Beyoncé and Jay like the Obamas all weekend and Jay’s interview with Van Jones. During that conversation, Jay and Van talked about the importance of intergenerational wealth, especially as an ambition for black Americans. This is the legacy that the Carters are building. Beyoncé was at the Roc Nation event not just because it was a party. But because it is her BUSINESS.
Here are Beyoncé and Jay-Z showing that the business is on solid ground:
Here she is at the brunch hanging out with Mimi:
Oh my God Beyonce and Mariah Carey are there now!— DeMario (@Markus_Dedon) January 27, 2018
Here she is at the brunch greeting Mimi and showing us where Blue Ivy learned the “hand”:
Lmao Beyoncé wasn’t playing with that photographer. pic.twitter.com/zlz0EokIgM— Honestly...FreeDonna (@HonestLamb) January 27, 2018
As you know, on Saturday night, Beyoncé and Jay Z attended Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy gala. Her dress was Azzi & Osta with a black beret. Very Bonnie & Clyde. But also very Black Panthers. Just like when she performed Formation at the Super Bowl a couple of years ago.
Last night at the Grammys, once again, she custom-themed the look after the Black Panthers, as confirmed by the designer Nicolas Jebran. The Black Panther Party was founded to challenge institutionalised power centres that systemically oppressed minorities. Beyoncé very rarely speaks in public anymore. But she does make herself heard in how she expresses herself – through her art, through her accounts, and, this weekend, through her style. Most importantly though, she might also be doing it through her parenting.
If you believe that Beyoncé knew what would happen last night, and we already know that she knew what would happen last year, consider then what it means that she brought her firstborn along with her to see it, both times. Yes, of course, it’s awesome and hilarious that Blue has such personality, that she takes over wherever she goes. But for two Grammys in a row now, Blue has been present to see her parents lose the biggest awards of the night. Last night she was present to see her father losing over and over and over again. What is the lesson here? The lesson might be that even her parents face limits that have long been established by the status quo. And if HER parents, who are wealthy and successful, are confronted by limits, imagine the limits that hold back those who don’t have the same resources, the same influence?
Van Jones asked Jay during their interview this weekend (watch the full interview here if you haven’t) whether or not he’s worried about his children, specifically both his daughters and Jay’s response to that was to say that, “I’m not worried about my children”. The reason? Because “the amount of information we’ll give them and the amount of love, between those two things, they’ll be fine”. He led with “information”. Which is why I see Beyoncé and Jay-Z bringing Blue to the Grammys and I wonder if it isn’t about more than just showing off their daughter. It’s about what she can take away from these situations, from hearing her father’s name repeatedly listed among nominees but not once going up on stage, from seeing her mother last year, pregnant with her siblings, during a 10 minute performance, crowning herself when the recording academy refused to crown her. Are these the stories that Blue will tell one day?