Analysis Of Formation

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In Formation, Beyoncé embraces a political self that consumers of her music haven’t often seen prior to the release of the song. Formation is music that is by a Black woman, and that speaks to the Black community—especially Black women. She is using language that is part of Black culture and honors Black features: “I want my baby hair with baby hair and afros, I want my Negro nose with Jackson 5 nostrils.” In just these lyrics, Beyoncé is doing multiple things at the same time. She is pushing against critics of her Black baby, Blue Ivy and against Eurocentric ideals of beauty—her husband, Jay-Z has often been touted as unattractive by mainstream White media because of his classically Black features, including his full lips and broad nose;…show more content…
Though this can be heard through the lyrics, it can also be traced musically. The song begins with words from Messy Mya, a popular figure in New Orleans—which takes center stage in the music video. Messy Mya opens with "What happened at the New Wil 'ins / Bitch I 'm back, by popular demand.” This situates the song as political from the start; the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina and the vicious and racist treatment of Black New Orleans residents both during and after the Hurricane hit can be connected to this opening line. What did happen in New Orleans? Directly after, Beyoncé’s first lines are heard with just a minimalistic, echoing beat under them, which is retained throughout the entire song. Though the beat remains simple, we can hear a marching band come in during the chorus, which connects listeners to New Orleans jazz—the birthplace of jazz in the United States—and the big bands that originated there. In this decision, Beyoncé is honoring the history of New Orleans and all the Black people and music that originated from the city. Beyoncé is choosing to celebrate Blackness and bring Black bodies to the center who are not normally seen or…show more content…
She links her hair—and by extension all Black women’s hair—to her identity and culture: “Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear. Don’t touch my soul, when it’s the rhythm I know. Don’t touch my crown, they say the vision I’ve found…” In these lyrics she is rejecting the fetishization of Black hair and therefore Black bodies, while also celebrating the beauty of Black hair. By likening Black hair to soul, to royalty, and to feelings, Solange is drawing a straight line to the notion of Black is Beautiful, and pushing the celebration of Black hair. Within this, she is situating herself, her music and this song, as a refusal of respectability politics and being kind and respectable to people who disrespect her and her
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