You already know that Beyonce can do no wrong and this point in her career. She’s ascended to certifiable icon status. Queen Bey is in the rare bracket that artists such as Michael Jackson and Prince successfully reached. Beyonce transcends race, culture, gender, genre and even generations. Seriously, you can stack up the artistry of Beyonce against the artists of any generation of music (black or white) and she stands boldly.
My appreciation for Beyonce goes deep. She shifts culture. The most impactful things she’s done in her career has been her nonconformity in her rise to idolatry. She’s kept it super black. The epitome of black. Bliggity black! Even her crossover Pop and Country songs are black. At the root of it all, she’s still the Southern Texas girl and it’s beautiful to see that she hasn’t changed. If anything she’s made it a point to embrace her regalness as a black woman icon.
Being from the south, Beyonce knows of the cultural impact of HBCUs. So, it was only right that she gave a nod to the pageantry and talent that black colleges display every football and basketball game, tailgate and, of course, homecoming festivity. THe Beychella performance is one that will go down in the history of black entertainment, if not entertainment history in general. The Homecoming documentary, which was released with a surprise album of the same name, only solidifies this point.
The documentary itself is a reairing of the legendary Coachella performance with an inside look into the making of it and the HBCU inspiration behind the performance itself. Every mini-section that has a quote by a famous historical figure who also is an HBCU alumni such as Toni Morrison and W.E.B. Du Bois. With every snippet of the documentary, you learned more and more about the set-up of the performance and even the individuals that were blessed to grace the stage with Beyonce. She showed love to the institutions that inspired the performance and took the audience through the rigorous practice sessions that went into the crafting of this historic set. Through the film, I learned a lot about Beyonce and I grew a deeper understanding of her music. We also was blessed with the opportunity to see her dance rendition of Juvenile “Back That Ass Up” and the crowd’s glee to her performing “Swag Surfin’”. They didn’t know if they wanted to continue to watch the performance or start swag surfin’ in the crowd. If she went and did that at an HBCU, we would’ve been read to rock it!
I feel as if southern music is in some way influenced by HBCU band culture. Even trap music, from the hitting base to the snare drum sounds you often hear. Going to an HBCU has open my mind and ear in a way that it never has been before. Even watching Homecoming put me on game about the marching band influence on Beyonce’s musical catalogue. Just listen to “Diva” and “Crazy In Love” and you’ll hear the same thing that I now hear!
For Beyonce to use her expansive platform to shine a light on HBCUs is admirable. It’s what separates her from other artists in her field. To even hear that she’s called upon the influence of HBCU music on her artistry is powerful in itself. Beychella could be seen as the A Different World moment of our generation. I believe that Beychella, and this film, will drive HBCU enrollment up. I believe funding for HBCU music programming will increase. This is the power of media. We needed an iconic celebrity to wrap her arms around the HBCU community like Beyonce has. The byproducts of her doing this will be immense.