Harlem Reviews Beyonce's "I AM..."

Beyonce’s “I AM…” Advance Album Review by Jackson Harlem

As my guy iCon says, “Hurricane Bey has begun to blow.” And blowing she is. The chart-topping icon Beyonce Knowles-Carter has done the unthinkable. Within this double-album are timeless classics and club bangers, all with a new sound a new feel. The classic, grayscaled photo-marketing has further enhanced her iconic image


Don’t get me wrong, I loved Dangerously in Love and the forever classic album B’Day, but the R&B/ Pop songbird-vixen is doing way more than crossing over. She’s expanding the minds of her loyal fan base and broadening her sound. I just hope everyone stays along for the ride.

Take the song “Halo”. The soft, heartfelt lyrics are empowered by soaring vocals and trendy instrumentation. The synthesized horns remind me of Rihanna’s “Umbrella”, but don’t worry, this song is in a storm category all its own.

If I Were a Boy” was an unexpected first release from her album, but growth is about delivering the unexpected. The tune has grown on people. I listened to it on the radio after a lunch date and really thought about how her audience is still broadening. The documentary-like video treatment was an unconventional choice that I love. And we’ve all seen her be provocative, so that choice I respect.

Hello” is a surprisingly sultry, piano-ornamented contemporary ballad whereas “Broken Hearted Girl” is reminiscent of Elton John’s “Candle in the Wind”, strewn with deep, intimate phrasing. The up-tempo keeps it fresh. It channels early Mariah Carey.

I thought “Sweet Dreams” would solely fulfill the electro-urban, early 90’s-need for the album. But no. Switch the track to “Radio” and you get electronica. Synthesized sound effects and high hats go haywire while her funky, distorted speech will have you reeling to put the song on repeat. She even resurrected the melismatic disco moaning Donna Summers was infamous for. [I should just hand her my music degree.]

The acoustic guitar-driven “Satellites” and “Smash Into You” are two of her folk and alternative-inspired ballads. In this genre, she definitely challenges the likes of Tracy Chapman and Avril Levine. “That’s Why You’re Beautiful" has so many layers from the strummed guitar and snare to the electric guitar flaring in the background.

Video Phone”is an amazingly haunting, snap music club banger. The whole song through, all I can see are girls prowling through dimly-lit clubs with cell phones in hand. And the moaning? I’m not going to say anything. Nor will I speak on how much I love "Diva" and it's cartoonish, high-hat littered beat.

Check the Deluxe Edition of Beyonce’s album for “Ego”. It’s a soulful R&B track filled with a brassy staccato melody with piano twinkling at each cadence. And check out the trills she hits during the break.

Beyonce’s tonality appropriates to suit each varying genre. So listen with mind open. All the way open. At this point in her career, I’m elated with the fact that she’s so dedicated to more than maintaining her $80 million net worth; she’s truly aimed at becoming even more legendary and expanding the musical realm of genres and the people who love them.

Beyonce’ will be playing on every radio station. Quote me on it.

Get the Album "I AM...SASHA FIERCE" November XVIII.

When you get yours, turn it up as loud as you can and call me.

J. Harlem

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