When you think Beyoncé couldn’t get any busier with her OTR II Tour with her hubby Jay-Z, she drops a new collaborative album Everything is Love the day right after Nas released his Nasir album and it absolutely broke the internet.
The nine-track album was only available via Tidal but it has since been uploaded to Spotify as well. So c’mon, move it and listen to it right now:
But of course just dropping the whole album wasn’t enough, they also released a new music video for their single “APESHIT” which was directed by Ricky Saiz and it was entirely shot in the Louvre. Yes, the Louvre, the very one in Paris.
“APESHIT” literally has got us all losing our shit.
If you haven’t seen the music video yet, please take a look right this instant.
Controversial or not? Here’s our interpretation of the video.
The visual and lyrical message of “APESHIT” is that Beyoncé and Jay-Z have MADE IT. Being inside and owning the Louvre while seizing the center stage in a high culture palace with a history deeply rooted in colonialism and like most Western art museums, historically made little room for non-white artists.
One of the first shots of the video is in front of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, not only the most recognizable portrait in the museum but also worldwide. People from all over the world flock to the Louvre to take a peek or take a picture of the Mona Lisa. Beyoncé and Jay-Z standing next to it are visually asserting themselves as Mona Lisa.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace or also known as the Nike of Samothrace is an Ancient Greek statue of the goddess of Victory. If you notice, Beyoncé’s costuming mimics the folds of the sculptures drapery and positions her as Victory. She is clothed in white, imitating the statue’s current bleached state.
But can we also talk about her dance moves? Look familiar? No? Well, take a look.
Loie Fuller was an American actress and dancer who was a pioneer of both modern dance and theatrical lighting techniques. Maybe our Queen B took some inspiration from her!
And here again we see Beyoncé comparing herself to a Greek statue, but this time it is the Venus de Milo, who is believed to depict the Greek goddess of love and beauty. And in this scene, Beyoncé is wearing a nude bodysuit, which may be seen that she’s referring herself to both goddesses of beauty and victory as a black woman. This breaks the white-centric beauty standards.
And if you haven’t noticed, most of the art that is featured in “APESHIT” is from the Neoclassical period, meaning during the Napoleonic era. Quick reminder, Napoleon was not only one of the worst but also colonized the Americas, South Africa Egypt, Syria, etc. This painting is The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques Louis David.
And in this painting, Napoleon is crowning his wife Josephine empress. A moment to highlight for his power right to rule. At the same moment, Beyoncé sings:
I got expensive fabrics
I got expensive habits
and can be seen as a direct reference to the expensive clothing worn by Josephine and Napoleon for political reasons.
And just as Josephine’s expensive clothes, Beyoncé is slaying in Burberry, Versace, Balmain, Alexis Mabille, Peter Pilotto, MCM and so many more in the music video. She and Jay-Z are the definition of empress and emperor. However, there is much more depth to that comparison though —as you guessed it—colonialism.
Another powerful shot is where the dancers were centered in front of the Winged Victory of Samothrace statue. This can be portrayed as an allusion to historical violence against blacks, especially sexual violence against black female bodies.
The art in this scene is a portrait of Juliette Récamier by David.
However, the styling of these two women sitting on the ground is much more similar to Marie-Guillemine Benoist’s Portrait of a Black Woman, which was one of the only portraits of black women in the history of Western art until the 20th century or so.
Essentially, “APESHIT” is not only a brilliant celebration of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s success and accomplishments, but it is also an acknowledgment of their success in the face of historical/current oppression – as well as an expression to their predecessors who are too often forgotten. And that is exactly what the lyrics are for:
I can’t believe we made it (this is what we made, made)
This is what we’re thankful for (this is what we thank, thank)
Last but not least, we know you are all fussing over the fact that the Carters rented out the Louvre just like that (although not first time ever seen), but can we just take a moment and appreciate how good is Beyoncé at rapping??? She really knows how to spit some bars – she’s literally killin’ it!
She is the Queen and will forever be it.
and move on.