Beyonce, backstage at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles earlier this year,… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)
With the media currently fixated on Beyoncé’s womb, there’s been little room to speculate on the whereabouts of the new music she’s keeping close to her chest.
As the “is she or isn’t she” murmurings of another Baby Carter (Jay-Z reportedly emailed a denial to a New York radio station over the weekend) continued, the full version of Bey’s “Grown Woman” mysteriously hit the Internet on Monday night.
The first whiff of “Grown Woman” came courtesy of her latest Pepsi ad, but aside from Beyoncé previewing the track on her current world tour, fans haven’t been able to hear it in full until the leak, which may or may not have been official.
“Grown Woman” is an empowering female anthem tailor-made for dance floors and repeat blasting in car stereos.
As with “Run the World (Girls),” “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Diva,” the Timbaland-produced single has the pop diva barking out an aggressive affirmation of her prowess over five minutes of frenetic African-influenced rhythms, tribal chants and multiple vocal breakdowns.
Here’s five things we loved about the single.
1. Her cockiness. It came across a bit too brash for some on her previously leaked “Bow Down/I Been On,” but her play for supremacy is a little nicer here: “Look at me, I'm a big girl now / Said I'm gonna do something / Told the world imma paint this town / Now … , I run this.”
2. Timbaland. The hitmaker usually makes his stamp a known one early on. Recent work with Justin Timberlake got him to stretch his trademark electronic sound and experiment more behind the boards, and he continues that here. Timbaland knows his way around a percolating drum machine, and that came in handy for tackling the tribal beats. Listen closely, though, for some classic Timbo: a bit of beatboxing here, a marching band stomp there.
3. The (many) influences. This isn’t the first time Beyoncé has flirted with Afrobeat. She was inspired by Nigerian icon Fela Kuti for “4’s” best single, "End of Time," and the funky vibe is revisited on “Grown Woman.” Bey advances it by integrating African chants into the beat, making it one of her more interesting sonic offerings. She also found a way to flip a line from Snoop Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun,” which on its own deserves some credit.
4. Her “Bootylicious” lyrics. When she’s not asserting that she can “do whatever I want,” Bey is shouting out her curves with multiple references to her jelly. A favorite quip: “You really wanna know how I got it like that / Cause I got a cute face and my booty’s so fat.”
5. Breaking a sweat dancing to those drums and being thankful that a new Beyoncé song actually surfaced. Sorry, we were starting to think we'd have to go through summer without new music.
Listen to “Grown Woman” below, before it disappears: