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New Music Saturday: Beyoncé and Jay-Z Surprise-Drop the Most Fun Event Album of 2018

‘Everything Is Love’ is a swaggering victory lap for music’s first couple

The 59th GRAMMY Awards - Roaming Show Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS

The Carters — Everything Is Love

What to Know: Everything Is Love, the joint album from music’s most powerful power couple, was released midday Saturday without warning in the midst of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s On the Run II tour. Rumors of a Jay-Bey project have swirled for as long as they’ve been an item: The pair first linked up on Jay’s “’03 Bonnie & Clyde,” but “Crazy in Love” was the moment their full potential as collaborators came into focus. “Crazy in Love” turned 15 years old last month, and they’ve taken us on a roller coaster ride in the interim. Most recently and notably, Jay’s infidelity nearly tore them apart but ended up blessing us with two incredible albums in Lemonade and 4:44 in 2016 and 2017, respectively. They’ve been been biding their time since, and now Everything Is Love is here to remind us what an album release can feel like when the artists behind it haven’t dragged out an overwhelming and exhausting rollout.

Why Stream It: Everything Is Love is the sonic sibling of Lemonade, but it’s not a narrative cap on the Becky With the Good Hair Trilogy. It is, in large part, a victory lap, mostly concerned with Bey and Jay showing appreciation for the ways in which they boost one another. Beyoncé does the heavy lifting here, and proves once again that when she chooses to rap, she’s just about unmatched in her ability to ride a beat. She does Migos better than Migos on “Apeshit,” an immediate standout that recruits Quavo for some choice ad-libs and features a Jay verse that’s disdainfully boastful in the way only a Jay verse can be: “I said no to the Super Bowl / You need me, I don’t need you.” On the Pharrell-assisted “Nice,” Bey slides into her verse so nimbly you may need to run her entrance back a few times. When she goes the stunting route, she’s exceptionally convincing; after spitting “If I gave two fucks about streaming numbers, woulda put Lemonade up on Spotify,” she drops a cloying “Fuck you” to her doubters. For everyone but the targets of their jabs, Everything Is Love will easily rank as the most purely fun event album of a jam-packed 2018 so far.

Why Skip It: Listen, Jay-Z is my favorite rapper of all time, and I happen to think he’s the greatest to ever do it. There is, however, no debating the fact he’s a replacement-level player on Everything Is Love. Though he does occasionally dip into “How do you do, fellow kids?” territory, Jay is generally capable at keeping up with the times. Keeping up with his wife is another story altogether. There’s an almost binary rule for enjoyment on Everything Is Love: If the voice you’re hearing is Beyoncé’s, it’s energetic, forceful, and current; if it’s Jay’s, it sounds … fine. There’s no excuse (lack of Tidal access aside) not to give Everything Is Love a spin or 20 this weekend. But you might find yourself fantasizing about how much better it would sound as a Queen Bey solo project.