Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Since 1907
Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Calvin University's official student newspaper since 1907

Calvin University Chimes

Beyoncé’s “16 CARRIAGES” is an ode to Black women

Beyoncé Knowles-Carter announced her new album “act ii” during a Verizon Super Bowl commercial on Feb. 11. At the end of the commercial, she announced, “Okay, they ready, drop the new music,” and Twitter went into hysterics. On Instagram, the singer announced that her new album, “act ii,” is a country album and that her new songs “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM” and “16 CARRIAGES” would be available to stream after the Super Bowl. The full album will be released on March 29.

Knowles-Carter’s “16 CARRIAGES” is an overview of her entire career. The ballad sounds like a funeral procession with Knowles-Carter mourning the dreams and fears that she had as a child. In the song, she talks about the beginning of her career as a young teenager away from home, sacrificing her youth under the immense pressure to become a superstar. The song “16 CARRIAGES” feels like a nod to the struggle ambitious women have when choosing their career path. 

As I was listening to “16 CARRIAGES,” I couldn’t help but think about the struggle of being a young Black woman with ambition. It seems like we have to work harder, be more innovative and give up so much more than the average person just to be taken seriously. With the line, “Goin’ so hard, gotta choose myself, underpaid and overwhelmed,” Knowles-Carter notes that even as a teenager, she was working hard on tour every summer without being paid fairly.

Being a young Black woman with ambition also feels like you are up against a clock. It feels like there is so much to do before getting married and having children— you have to be successful so that you can justify settling down. When she sings, “Ain’t got time to waste, I got art to make,” Knowles-Carter is referencing the music she has to make so that she can be successful enough to eventually take time away from her career. She sings, “Going so hard now, I miss my kids, overworked and overwhelmed,” noting the struggle of being a working mother.

A common theme throughout the song is exhaustion. Knowles-Carter sings, she works, she performs but she is tired. “Only God knows” is repeated throughout the song as a reference to the work she has put into her career, her family and herself. She also sings, “They won’t dim my light all these years I fight, it’s been 38 summers and I’m not in my bed, on the back of the bus in a bunk with the band.” In this line, Knowles-Carter alludes to the fact that she has had doubters attempt to “dim her light” for years, yet she continues to work and push the boundaries in her music. “You’ll remember me because we got something to prove.” Being a Black woman is being the most awarded artist in music history, with 32 Grammys, and still feeling like you have to prove yourself to people who believe that you don’t deserve your success. 

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    Rhonda MullinsMar 11, 2024 at 10:53 am

    She deserves everthing she has and ever Grammy she won and we all know she did not get at least five that should have been hers. This woman worked beyond her self exhausting is not the right word…she sacrificed her self. God Bless her.