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The Carters - Everything is Love (Album Review)

Monday, 02 July 2018 Written by Jonathan Rimmer

It might be inappropriate, or even deluded, to speculate on the extent to which Beyoncé has positively influenced her rap mogul husband, Jay-Z, artistically and personally. But the couple have repeatedly set out the terms of their relationship on public platforms – even to the point where, as a listener, it's hard to tell whether you're connecting with their issues directly or have just been sucked into an astute marketing strategy.

Regardless, when Jay-Z dropped '4:44', his most direct and intimate project yet, last summer, it was patently obvious to followers of both artists that he'd taken a leaf out his wife's book. Beyoncé's 'Lemonade' opened the floodgates with tales of infidelity. Jay-Z, not usually known for his humility, responded by pretty much apologising and admitting to everything. It follows that 'Everything is Love', a joint album by the duo, would provide the narrative with a sense of closure.

In truth, it does and it doesn't. From the opening track, SUMMER, it's clear that Jay and Bey have patched things up, as classy string-laden production plays backdrop to cliched lyrics about making love on beaches and “drowning in the depths” of each other.

They're more playful in their affections on the emphatic sample-based closer LOVEHAPPY, which sees them trading raps about the ups and downs of their long history together.

However, between these bookends there's not much to sink your teeth into on an emotional level. Airtight flows and braggadocious rhymes about well-earned success and opulence dominate, and the only major surprise is that the bulk of them come from Beyoncé. While Jay chimes in infrequently with mixtape-style verses for padding, this is mostly Queen B's show. In fact, for extensive periods, Jay isn't present at all.

Production-wise, it's an ambitious effort. Beyoncé grapples with a range of bassy instrumentals, generally vocalising with a confident but intermittent rap flow instead of singing. On first listen, it's disconcerting to hear her jump on a trap beat with Quavo of Migos and spit about “living lavish”. But she finds her feet quickly, reinterpreting Still D.R.E's immortal hook on 713 and leading the way over a triumphant soul instrumental on BOSS.

Jay's not completely absent – his relentless flow fits seamlessly alongside NICE's syncopated piano chords and bouncy rhythm, for example – but the content of his verses feels disappointingly vapid after he'd hinted at returning to form on '4:44'. BLACK EFFECT is the exception due its civil rights messaging and 'Reasonable Doubt'-esque rhyme stacking, but it further illustrates how much more interesting Jay is when he references something other than himself.

Perhaps, though, we shouldn't be surprised that hip-hop's premier couple are celebrating their reunification by consolidating their brand and reminding listeners how disturbing it is how much they gross. It's not an endearing homecoming, but it is an honest reflection of their lifestyle. To flip the old adage about great art emanating from struggle, Beyoncé and Jay-Z's message of contentedness was never likely to be particularly satisfying.

The Carters Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Tue July 03 2018 - COLOGNE RheinEnergieStadion (Germany)
Fri July 06 2018 - MILAN San Siro (Italy)
Sun July 08 2018 - ROME Stadio Olimpico (Italy)
Wed July 11 2018 - BARCELONA Olympic Stadium (Spain)
Sat July 14 2018 - PARIS Stade de France (France)
Sun July 15 2018 - PARIS Stade de France (France)
Tue July 17 2018 - NICE Allianz Riviera (France)
Wed July 25 2018 - CLEVELAND Ohio - FirstEnergy Stadium (USA)
Fri July 27 2018 - LANDOVER District of Columbia - FedEx Field (USA)
Sat July 28 2018 - WASHINGTON District of Columbia - FedEx Field (USA)
Mon July 30 2018 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Lincoln Financial Field (USA)
Thu August 02 2018 - EAST RUTHERFORD New Jersey - MetLife Stadium (USA)
Fri August 03 2018 - EAST RUTHERFORD New Jersey - MetLife Stadium (USA)
Sun August 05 2018 - FOXBOROUGH Massachusetts - Gillette Stadium (USA)
Wed August 08 2018 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - US Bank Stadium (USA)
Fri August 10 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Soldier Field (USA)
Sat August 11 2018 - CHICAGO Illinois - Soldier Field (USA)
Mon August 13 2018 - DETROIT Michigan - Ford Field (USA)
Thu August 16 2018 - COLUMBUS Ohio - Ohio Stadium (USA)
Sat August 18 2018 - BUFFALO New York - New Era Field (USA)
Tue August 21 2018 - COLUMBIA South Carolina - Williams Brice Stadium (USA)
Thu August 23 2018 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Vanderbilt Stadium (USA)
Sat August 25 2018 - ATLANTA Georgia - Mercedes Benz Stadium (USA)
Sun August 26 2018 - ATLANTA Georgia - Mercedes Benz Stadium (USA)
Wed August 29 2018 - ORLANDO Florida - Camping World Stadium (USA)
Fri August 31 2018 - MIAMI Florida - Hard Rock Stadium (USA)
Tue September 11 2018 - ARLINGTON Texas - AT&T Stadium (USA)
Thu September 13 2018 - NEW ORLEANS Louisiana - Mercedes-Benz Superdome (USA)
Sat September 15 2018 - HOUSTON Texas - NRG Stadium (USA)
Wed September 19 2018 - PHOENIX Arizona - University of Phoenix Stadium (USA)
Sat September 22 2018 - PASADENA California - Rose Bowl (USA)
Sun September 23 2018 - PASADENA California - Rose Bowl (USA)
Thu September 27 2018 - SAN DIEGO California - SDCCU Stadium (USA)
Sat September 29 2018 - SANTA CLARA California - Levis Stadium (USA)
Tue October 02 2018 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - BC Place (Canada)
Thu October 04 2018 - SEATTLE Washington - Century Link Field (USA)

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