Beyoncé’s 40th birthday is on September 4 and as I wrote the other day, it means we’re approaching the Queen of Culture’s Ruby Jubilee. To kick off the Ruby Jubilee, Beyoncé is releasing Ivy Park Rodeo, a western-themed collection, on August 19th. A promotional video or the Ivy Park Rodeo dropped last Friday:
So now we know why she was quiet for the orange Flex drop – B was saving it for this, for cowboy styles, for reasserting Black and Indigenous space in cowboy culture. This is a celebration of the western influence of her childhood Houston days. “BK is from Texas”, and she has always repped her hometown but what she’s doing here is bigger than a city, bigger than a state. It is the correction of a false narrative – as she says in the new issue of Harper’s Bazaar:
“This collection is a mixture of my childhood growing up in Texas and a bit of American history. I grew up going to the Houston rodeo every year. It was this amazing diverse and multicultural experience where there was something for every member of the family, including great performances, Houston-style fried Snickers, and fried turkey legs. One of my inspirations came from the overlooked history of the American Black cowboy. Many of them were originally called cowhands, who experienced great discrimination and were often forced to work with the worst, most temperamental horses. They took their talents and formed the Soul Circuit. Through time, these Black rodeos showcased incredible performers and helped us reclaim our place in western history and culture. We were inspired by the culture and swag of the Houston rodeo.”
This is the new profile that’s going viral today. Social media is all Beyoncé right now, as it should be. Naturally she looks incredible. But it’s more than just the photos. Because, of course, we don’t hear from Beyoncé very often. And Beyoncé, as we know, does not get interviewed. This piece is laid out like an interview but, really, it’s an essay. One of the formal indications of that is how the article is bylined. “Introduction by Kaitlyn Greenidge”. There are a few questions that are included to frame and structure Beyoncé’s answers, but she’s written out her thoughts. She is saying only what she wants to say and no more but, at the same time, she’s saying a lot more than we’ve had from her in a long, long, long time.
Beyoncé at 40 is chronicling four decades of Beyoncé – in her own words. She talks about her childhood and adolescent silence. She talks about her ambition. And she talks about the WORK. This is what never changes about Beyoncé: a dream is useless without effort, without trying, without showing up and just doing it. If you don’t have the work, an idea can only go so far.
And what’s amazing about Beyoncé, why Beyoncé is considered the superstar of all superstars, is that she has all of it in equal measure. She has the imagination and the talent. She backs up her raw abilities though with work ethic. To the point where she is now peerless. There’s really no one else – and it’s why Beyoncé can dictate the terms of her fame like few celebrities can. It’s why Beyoncé, as she says, can break rules and make new ones.
“I have paid my dues and followed every rule for decades, so now I can break the rules that need to be broken. My wish for the future is to continue to do everything everyone thinks I can’t do.”
What I like about this quote is that this is about experience. She put in the work to understand the game, she gamed the game, inside and out, and only then did she decide to break out of it. Although, you know, I have to laugh at her “continue to do everything everyone thinks I can’t do”.
Sorry, I don’t mean to challenge the Queen, but who is out here thinking there are things BEYONCÉ can’t do?!
It’s more like….what else is Beyoncé going to do? Well, she has confirmed, she’s been in the studio for a year and a half and “the music is coming!” That’s partly why social media is exploding. Because with that one little tease, the anticipation is already swelling.
But we should know better by now, shouldn’t we? She is deliberate about what she says. She knows the reaction that those four words, “the music is coming!”, will elicit but that’s all she’s willing to reveal right now. And nobody’s telling Beyoncé about timelines. It’ll come when she’s good and ready – and it’s pointless to start guessing when that might be.
Besides, there are other projects to look forward to. Beyoncé you’ll note is wearing a lot of Tiffany & Co in this shoot, which sponsored the Icon issue of Harper’s Bazaar. It’s also mentioned in the piece that she and Jay-Z are the new faces of Tiffany & Co and WWD is reporting that the Carters will appear in upcoming Tiffany & Co ads. This deal isn’t just about the money though. The Carters certainly don’t need to take any partnership that’s presented to them simply for the money. And with Beyoncé, who has been intentional about all of her projects, there’s always more than just money.
Tiffany & Co is itself an iconic brand – but one that, until recently, has been associated with a certain kind of tradition, a tradition of whiteness. For Beyoncé and Jay-Z then, the First Couple of Culture, global cultural royalty, this is about culturally reimagining who gets to be seen dripping in ice and turquoise on a billboard in Manhattan.
And from there?
Beyoncé writes a lot about lifestyle here. About learning how to take care of her body, her mind. She uses CBD. She’s building her own hemp and honey farm. She talks about “blends” and finding Blue Ivy soaking in the tub using one of her “blends” one day. Then she follows by saying that “I have so much to share…and there’s more to come soon!”
This is not a woman who makes empty promises. She’s expanding her empire for sure. Is she taking Beyoncé brand honey to market? Is she stocking an entire market with only Beyoncé products? Everything from honey to hemp to CBD oil to skincare to haircare to clothing to what else? It’s coming. If she’s teasing it, it means it’s coming eventually.
Until then though, this is the Ruby Jubilee. Just the start of the party.