When Lemonade came out in 2016, Beyoncé got out there on “Sorry” and told everyone: “Suck on my balls.” It was so rude. And delightful. When anybody who is expected to be well-behaved and polite — like Beyoncé, like women, like black women — decides to tell everyone to suck on her balls, it automatically becomes the best line of the year.
On her new joint album with Jay-Z, Everything Is Love, Beyoncé has one-upped herself: On “Apeshit” she tells everyone to “get off my dick.” The difference between “suck on my balls” and “get off my dick” is subtle: One is certainly rude, but the other is transcendentally rude. Lucky us, because Rude Beyoncé is the Best Beyoncé mood, and on this album, she’s ruder than she’s ever been.
I should explain rude for people who tend to only read headlines and react (oh, look at me, being rude like Bey). I’m sure during her daughters’ H-Town upbringing, Ms. Tina Lawson made sure Beyoncé’s manners were impeccable. But being rude isn’t about manners, nor is it about being remorseful for a momentary oversight. During Lemonade, a lot of people (including myself) called this sort of genital-related assertion “unapologetic.” This isn’t that either. Unapologetic — when Bey and Jay are unapologetically black or unapologetically confident or unapologetically sexual — indicates that somewhere, someone expects an apology. You’re aware of that, but you’re choosing to do what you’re doing anyway. Unapologetic is Bey singing “Sorry/I’m not sorry.”
But when you’re being rude, there is no inherent need to apologize or defy. Being rude is a joyfully impish, deviant mind-set. When Beyoncé is rude, she’s refusing to even pay attention to what other people want from her.
The are so many excellent rude moments on Everything Is Love. She’s by far the rudest on “Nice,” one of my favorites from the album. Bey raps — better than most people who call themselves rappers — and slings at Spotify (“If I gave two fucks — two fucks about streaming numbers, would have put Lemonade up on Spotify”). On “LoveHappy” she’s gleefully rudest to Jay-Z, singing, “You fucked up the first stone, we had to get remarried,” and “You’re lucky I didn’t kill you,” which gets a gasp and a slow-clap with every play. On “Friends,” she’s basically rude to everyone who isn’t her friend but not to her friends (“My friends, real friends, better than your friends”). On “Heard About Us,” she advises “keep us out your mouth.” On “Apeshit,” she delivers the aforementioned “get off my dick,” and is generally arrogant, driving home how great her family’s life is (invested in this narrative, not mad at it). A non-album single, “Salud!,” is just one big belly laugh in the face of anyone who might have a negative thing to say. On “Boss,” she again utilizes the most effective way to be rude — reminding everyone how rich you are (“My great-great-grandchildren already rich / That’s a lot of brown children on your Forbes list”).
On all these songs, it’s her delivery that really makes the difference: She raps with formidable dexterity. She yelps, she sing-skr skrs, she duets and spars and jokes with Jay-Z, she coos and growls. When she talks about her brown children on the Forbes list, she uses the southern grandmomma pronunciation, chirreen, in rude defiance of consonants, and the expectation that you should mask a country accent when you’re rich. Every line Beyoncé delivers on Everything Is Love is like a bullet to other people’s egos, but “Nice” is the most effectively rude. “Fuck you, fuck you, you’re cool, fuck you,” she sings, in a flitting, carefree falsetto.