Here’s what all your favourite musicians did on the new Beyonce album
Beyonce has just dropped another full-length album on the world – and the list of musicians in the credits is almost as surprising as the album’s sudden release. James Blake and Jack White both appear on co-writes, but the liner notes for the album also reveal contributions – and inspiration – from some of your other favourites.
While working on his new album Radio Silence, James Blakes has also found the time to collaborate with Beyonce on two Lemonade tracks – the opening cut ‘Pray You Catch Me’ and ‘Forward’. On ‘Pray You Catch Me’ Blake shares a co-writing credit with Beyonce and singer-songwriter Kevin Garrett who has a publishing deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Blake also plays bass on the track which features a string arrangement by Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, Kanye, Spoon). On the shortest song on the record, the 79 second cut ‘Forward’, Blake has another co-write credit and can be heard singing and playing piano.
The writing credits for ‘Hold Up’ features a festival lineup of indie acts including Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig, Father John Misty, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Diplo. The song’s origins can be traced back to 2011 when Koenig tweeted a version of lyrics from Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ 2003 single ‘Maps’, that line was later used as a hook on a demo he recorded with Diplo in 2014. “I figured it was going to be a vampire weekend song but was easily convinced that it could be better/go to a new place as a Beyonce song,” he says. “Songs become tweets, tweets become songs – it’s the way of the world.”
it’s not that complicated – but some ppl are confused so here’s the short version: pic.twitter.com/Ma7P4HEngP
— Ezra Koenig (@arzE) April 25, 2016
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Karen O, Brian Chase, and Nick Zinner didn’t really have anything much to do with the creation of Beyonce’s album but thanks to a credit for an interpolation of a lyric from ‘Maps’ they’ve make a little money on the side everytime someone streams ‘Hold Up’. The track also features an interpolation from Soulja Boy’s 2008 single ‘Turn My Swag On’ and a sample of ‘Can’t Get Used to Losing You’, which was written by Jerome “Doc” Pomus and Mort Shuman, performed by Andy Williams.
Father John Misty
Although Father John Misty showed up on Kid Cudi’s 2013 album Indicud alongside a strange list of acts including Kendrick Lamar, RZA, ASAP Rocky, Haim and Michael Bolton it’s still a little off to see his name in the credits of a Beyonce album. The former Fleet Foxes drummer turned self-parodying troubadour formerly known to the tax office as Joshua Tillman has joked about making his appearance on Lemonade as an airhorn session player but the truth is more complicated – and less amusing.
Tillman’s entry into Beyonce’s world came via producer Emile Haynie whose 2015 album We Fall featured vocals from Father John Misty as well as Brian Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, Lana Del Rey, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Sampha, Lykke Li, The Xx’s Romy Madley Croft, and Randy Newman. Around about the same time as he was working on that star-studded album Haynie also played Beyonce some of Tillman’s music. “I’m pretty sure they were just looking for lyrics, but I went crazy and recorded a verse melody and refrain too that, unbelievably – when you consider how ridiculous my voice sounds on the demo – ended up making the record [on ‘Hold Up’] – right between picking up the baseball bat and decapitating the fire hydrant,” he told Billboard.
Woke up this morning in an unmarked car with a band aid on my temple, a slight metallic taste in my mouth and a Beyonce writing credit
— FATHER JOHN MISTY (@fatherjohnmisty) April 24, 2016
Several years ago White has also recorded a track with Jay Z called ‘Ray Bans’ but it’s still locked up in a vault somewhere while the pair got to work on far less exciting released like the vinyl edition of Magna Carter Holy Grail that no one really needed to hear. Now he has teamed up with Beyonce, ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ – a track filled with references to Jay Z cheating that has started more wild speculation and rumours than that infamous scene on the elevator with Solange in 2014. White co-wrote and co-produced the song as well as playing bass and singing a thundering chorus on the song.
Ruby Amanfu who sang duet with White on ‘Love Interruption’ and toured as a member of his all-female band, The Peacocks, also adds backing vocals on the track. While another regular White collaborator, Patrick Keeler from The Greenhornes and The Raconteurs, is behind the drum kit.
It might be Jack White’s influence that led to a sample of Led Zeppelin’s stomping ‘When the Levee Breaks’ showing up on ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’. But the classic track has also been sampled a stack of other acts giving James Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, and John Bonham writing credits on songs by Beastie Boys, Ice T, Bjork and Massive Attack.
‘Six Inch’ features vocals by The Weeknd plus a very recognisable sample half-inched from Isaac Hayes’ 1969 cover of Burt Bacharach and Hal David’s classic ‘Walk on By’ – a track that has also been used by NWA, Notorious B.I.G., MF Doom, and The Wu Tang Clan. The credits for the ‘Six Inch’ also feature Animal Collective duo David Portner and Noah Lennox but they’re not sampled on the track – Beyonce is just crediting them for the line “She too smart to crave material things”, which is fairly similar to the lyric “I don’t mean to seem like I care about material things” from their biggest hit ‘My Girls’.
Andre Benjamin and Antwan Patton – aka Andre 3000 and Big Boi – have a credit on ‘All Night’ alongside Organized Noize producer Sleepy Brown thanks to a samples of that infectious brass line from Outkast’s ‘SpottieOttieDopaliscious’ on the chorus. Beyonce worked with Andre back on ‘Party’ from her 2011 album 4 and again on a cover of Amy Winhouse’s ‘Back To Black’ for The Great Gatsby soundtrack in 2013.
Kendrick adds a verse to ‘Freedom’ that references the Black Lives Matter movement and the media reaction to statements made on his To Pimp A Butterfly album – and Beyonce’s own ‘Formation’, the final track on Lemonade. The powerful track also features samples of spirituals and prison songs recorded by Alan Lomax and John Lomax, Sr.