Beyoncé makes the second stop of her Formation World Tour in Tampa at Raymond James Stadium on Friday, April 29. Her World Tour comes at a delightful surprise to many, but it wouldn’t be a Beyoncé show without a lot of conversation.
On the night before the Super Bowl, I was sitting in the passenger seat of my friend’s car casually swiping down my Twitter newsfeed when I saw it. Multiple news sources and friends were frantically tweeting and retweeting the link to Beyoncé’s new single “Formation.” Within seconds of opening the link, I was obsessed. Queen Bey had done it again, and her Beyhive was swarming.
Not only did she catch the world by surprise when she dropped a sudden and surprise single, but she had an accompanying music video, one as, if not more, racially charged than the lyrics of the song. Within a few hours, millions of people could not stop talking about ‘Yonce. Her performance of the song at the Super Bowl the next day and her announcement of her Formation World Tour only magnified the hype and in turn, the scrutiny. By Monday morning, I couldn’t escape the links to various articles critiquing and analyzing the song, the music video, the halftime performance, and Beyoncé, herself.
Her last surprise drop was an entire album overnight. It too had everyone talking, but not like this time. The album was met with praise and fanfare while this single has been met with controversy and offense. So what’s the problem? One word: race.
The song is an anthem. It is Beyoncé’s mic drop, her last and only words to her haters, words which leave them speechless. She defends her daughter’s hair and her husband’s nose, not by merely suggesting that she can do her daughter’s hair however she wants to or that her husband has a “big” nose, but by calling out the racial undertones of the criticism.
“I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros / I like my negro with Jackson 5 nostrils,” the lyrics read. The afro is more than a black American hairstyle. Beginning in the 1960s, the afro became a part of a counter framework to white oppression of black culture and beauty. It, along with other hairstyles, was a push against conventional white beauty standards in an embrace of African and Caribbean heritage. Beyoncé does not hide her race in the song; she highlights it. She declares it. She is a proud black woman who will unabashedly sing about it.
The music video also makes references to police violence, Hurricane Katrina, and her Creole heritage. The references to police violence in the video and in her halftime show have caused the most controversy. Many people, including policemen and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, were offended by what they perceived to be Beyoncé inappropriately politicizing the halftime show and spreading an anti-police message. The state of Florida made headlines in the middle of February when a Miami police union urged Miami police to boycott her concert. The Tampa Police Benevolent Association followed suit, and urged Tampa PD to boycott the concert at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa on Friday, April 29. The Tampa PBA released a statement in February saying they were “disgusted” with Beyoncé’s performance and her “Formation” music video. However, Tampa police tweeted in support of Beyoncé a few days after the PBA’s statement.
Whatever feelings you may have, there is no denying Queen Bey’s reign. Tens of thousands of fans will flock to Raymond James Stadium at the end of April to hear her message, and millions of people will be talking about her until then and thereafter. As Beyoncé says at the end of her latest single, “You know you that b**** when you cause all this conversation.”
You can purchase tickets online for Beyoncé’s show at Raymond James on April 29 through Ticketmaster’s and Beyoncé’s websites.