Can we start the day with some work porn? I sent these two articles to Duana first thing this morning as possible back pocket content for upcoming episodes of Show Your Work and she wrote back, talking to me about her work uniform – it’s now the yellow Beycella hoodie, keeping the spirit of Beyoncé close for inspiration. What’s it like to work with B?
Cool & Dre produced several of the tracks on Everything is Love and were interviewed by both Rolling Stone and Billboard about the experience. They were right there with the Carters in the hours leading up to the surprise release of the album. In fact, they were still finishing the album three hours before it dropped. And yet… somehow it wasn’t a rush, at least not to Beyoncé and Jay-Z. That’s just how the process unfolds for them, that’s how they work – on the fly but not scrambling, doing several things at once, but always on top of every aspect of what they have to oversee.
As Cool & Dre explain, much of the work was done over the last couple of months in Paris and then Cardiff, where the Carters were rehearsing for OTR2. They rented out an entire stadium and the owners’ boxes and had those turned into recording studios for Cool & Dre. In between choreography and tweaking the lighting and meeting with the costume designers and running through the numbers, Beyoncé would pop upstairs, lay down some vocals, or listen to samples, or tell them to change this or that or the other and then go on to the next thing that needed to be done. It was up to Cool & Dre to keep up with her.
Reading these accounts is, obviously, mandatory for members of the BeyHive but if you get off on work and the logistics that go into the work of someone as productive and as prolific as Beyoncé, this is also essential homework since she’s so mysterious, it’s hard to get an understanding of how her computer is wired. And of course we all want to know how that computer is wired partly because we’re nosy but mostly because … not that this would be possible since she’s unicorn…we want to see if we can adapt some of those best practices for ourselves.
Here’s what few people will be able to adapt though – this is Dre talking about Beyoncé’s involvement, in direct contradiction to the people who keep trying to promote the fallacy that she does no writing herself:
“She was 100 percent involved. She put her mind to the music and did her thing. If she had a melody idea, she came up with the words. If we had the words, she came up with the melody. She’s a beast.
I’ll tell you one story: When I went out to their compound, I played them a sample that had a lady singing in French on a loop throughout the whole record. Bey said to play it again, and I did. And then she said to play it again, and I did. On the third time, she sang the whole sample from beginning to end -- in a different language! When you make a beat, that could take hours, days. I didn’t know what the hell that sample was saying. But in three listens, she picked up on a sample in a different language and sang the whole thing. When I saw that, I was like, “This is a totally different level.”
When you work with someone on that totally different level then, it brings you up to your top level. Which is what happed to Cool & Dre. Which is what I was referring to yesterday in my post about her genius - and this is, amazingly, the most relatable part of the story for all of us as we work on our own work. Some people are threatened at work by people they perceive to be better, or at least equally talented. What happens though, if you can put aside the insecurity and the intimidation, is that you soon realise that it shouldn’t cost you to be around people who are great. Excellence doesn’t have to happen in isolation.
Yours in gossip,