While the Beehive has been abuzz with the controversies and mysteries surrounding Beyonce’s latest compilation, Lemonade, a number of detractors have been calling attention to its numerous songwriting credits.
Among the writers and producers credited for input on the album include members of Led Zeppelin, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Soulja Boy, and the Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig, among many others. Some of the writing credits seem unimaginable to say the least, leaving many to wonder how they got on the album in the first place.
The furor has left some people questioning the “Crazy in Love” singer’s songwriting abilities, while others have waved those concerns aside, labeling them as hypocrisy. The word ‘racist’ has even come up for mention, suggesting that Bey is being criticized because of her race and not because of her obvious talent.
But, are the points raised legitimate? Does a singer also need to be a songwriter to be worth their salt? Or is songwriting talent the standard by which real musical talent is judged? Well, according to history, Beyonce may well be within her right to make music the way she does; collaborating on many of her tracks. Plus, digging a little deeper reveals that many of the credits were not much more than lawsuit preventers.
From an Art Standpoint
Popular music, as an art, is often a re-interpretation of sounds that were made before. Likewise, popular art pieces that are being made nowadays are inspired by artists that lived many years ago, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Rembrandt etc. This did not happen overnight; it’s a practice that has been passed down over many years. In fact, some of the greatest artists in their respective fields rarely created anything ‘original.’
Perhaps, more than anything else, Beyonce’s new album demonstrates high regard for other people’s work. Take for example, the song “6 Inches” which features the Weeknd and gives credit to the Animal Collective for their song, “My Girls.” Responding to questions about the seemingly odd inclusion of the band, the co-producer of “6 Inches” revealed that a line in the song, which reads “She too smart to crave material things” had some similarity to the line “I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things” in the Animal Collective track. As a result, the band was given credit so as to show respect and prevent any legal action.
Likewise, on Beyonce’s song “Hold Up,” Ezra Koenig of The Vampire Weekend got credited for a part in the song, despite not having collaborated with Beyonce in a studio. The real reason his name was included on the track is actually due to tweets on his Twitter timeline all the way back in 2011 that were sampled. One of the tweets reads “Slow down…they don’t love u like I love u.”
These and other credits on the Lemonade album serve to open the eyes of the public to how the music business is really set up where songwriting is concerned. If a songwriter can prove that his/her lyrics were used on a production without consent, he or she could sue for big bucks. Beyonce is merely avoiding all that drama by ensuring that all songwriters, whose works were mentioned – even in the slightest instance – got their due.