What if I told you that you can choose your own birthday?
I mean, Beyonce did it. Don’t worry, I’ll explain.
In April of 2007, my high-school girlfriends and I crowded around my 10” portable DVD player before and after classes to watch Beyonce do the unprecedented: re-release her B’Day album with music videos for damn near every. single. track.
The looks, the choreography, the execution–every video was a moment in time and we sat mesmerized. For a second, the loom of unfinished homework and final exam prep didn’t exist. We sweated this. Breathed it. Ate it up. And wanted more.
To this day, I think about the original album often and why it’s so special. What resonates most is the bravado of it all; she had a clear vision and went for it, critics be damned. And I always respected the hell out of that.
Simply put, Beyonce understood the assignment.
“My 20s were about building a strong foundation for my career and establishing my legacy,” said the singer during her 2021 Harper’s Bazaar interview, just shy of her 40th birthday. “[I was focused on] being a visionary no matter how many barriers I had to break through.”
Fresh off of filming Dreamgirls and her stint with Destiny’s Child, Beyonce was brimming with ideas. She locked in with some heavy-hitting songwriters and producers on a secret project and gave herself a six-week deadline, but finished the project in just two. Then, on Sept. 1, 2006, Bey celebrated her 25th year by gifting us with B’Day.
“My 20s were about building a strong foundation for my career and establishing my legacy…[I was focused on] being a visionary no matter how many barriers I had to break through.”Beyonce, Harper’s Bazaar Interview (2021)
If we were ever unsure of her star power before, Beyonce made us believers with the B’Day era. A highly coveted album *and* film? At the same damn time? Nobody was doing it like that.
Miss Knowles was on a mission. A mission to kick ass, take names, and run the world.
♫ I’m known to walk alone, but I’m alone for a reason / Sending me a drink ain’t appeasing, believe me / Come harder, this won’t be easy / Don’t doubt yourself trust me, you need me / This ain’t no shoulder with a chip, or an ego / But what you think they all mad at me for? ♫
From top to bottom of B’Day, sis oozes confidence. The risks are bigger. The talk is heavier.
She popped her sh*t on each track with an audaciousness that only maturity and experience can bring. She may want your approval, but she doesn’t need it.
In fact, you need hers.
♫ You don’t want my body, body? / Acting like I’m not nobody / You gon’ make me call somebody ♫
This ain’t the girl who was “crazy in love” a few years ago; she grew. She evolved.
We see Bey pivot from being the object of a man’s affection in DIL to a woman seizing control–of her career, her value, and her womanhood.
Most importantly, we see an entertainer begin to deeply consider and shape her legacy beyond the men in her life (starting her all-female band ‘The Suga Mamas’, for example).
♫ Is that a threat? (what’s another threat?) / Yep (that’s another threat) / I’m immune, you can’t get no colder / You got the green light (whoa) / You the king, right? (whoa) / You holdin’ up traffic, green means go ♫
Whether she’s buying her man a house/car or kicking him out of it for being ungrateful and getting sexy for the next one, the message is direct: she knows what she brings to the table and isn’t afraid to eat alone–no man, no group, just her. Standing on her own two stilettos.
She was finally owning who she is and embracing her power. Whew…the FREEDOM in that is unmatched!
B’Day freely, yet finely, walks the line between assertive and aggressive; it delivers an edginess that wasn’t present in Beyonce’s work before. This new “edge” becomes the core of everything she does. It was a personal and cultural reset. A rebirth, even.
With six of her studio albums, three visual albums, dozens of film credits, and a creative conglomerate (plus much more) under her belt, Beyonce blazed quite the trail in entertainment. She always sets herself apart from the rest, but her second album is one of her bravest and most influential displays of artistry.
What the project lacks in perfection, it makes up for in impact. She may have “changed the game with that digital drop,” but when we trace the path of her legacy, all roads lead back to B’Day.
It was the blueprint, written in bold; the blueprint for Bey’s work ethic, innovation, and ability to bet on herself. Not so coincidentally, those are the things we admire most about her.
Beyonce’s career is proof that we can reach our fullest potential when we affirm who we are, what we want, and what we value. Fifteen years later, B’Day remains a glaringly unapologetic reminder that being fearless and boundless pays off when we move with intention.
The day we decide to take control of our lives and bet on ourselves is the day we are reborn. Plant the seed now. Take the risk. Do the thing–it will reward us in spades (just ask Beyonce).
Beyonce chose her b’day, and it changed everything.
Tell me, when’s yours?
Do you agree that B’Day is Beyonce’s most influential album? Share why or why not in the comments!