“Now it all makes sense,” Beyonce sings in her new song “Ring Off.” “Always know that you”ve got a daughter / That”s so, so proud you took the high road.”
“Ring Off” is one of two totally new songs that are included on Bey's self-titled album reissue, out on Nov. 24. It's easy to see why this song — were it cut last year — maybe wouldn't have made the initial cut of “Beyonce,” released last December. “Ring Off” was off-brand for the landmark year adjacent to that ground-rattling release.
From spring of 2013 to the spring of this year, the singer and entertainer hoofed through her Mrs. Carter World Tour; the very title of the tour itself, as cheeky as it was, brought about the association that Beyonce is not Ms. Knowles, but instead used her year to celebrate being a wife, a new mother, a headliner with strings attached.
“Ring Off” is about divorce, of her mom Tina from her dad Matthew, and becomes an ode to the strength of her mother. Tina and Matthew had an allegedly nasty divorce in 2011 after he had an affair and a child with his mistress. Professionally, Beyonce had her own divorce from her dad-manager shortly thereafter.
That's two years to deal with parents' divorce, one that came after 31 years of marriage. Beyonce's daughter Blue Ivy was born about a year later.
Then Beyonce goes on a Mrs. Carter World Tour a year after that.
The topic of divorce as explored in hip-hop, pop and R&B could fill litters of books, but a pop star of Beyonce's caliber laying out her POV in her parents' divorce is pretty eye-opening, for several reasons. Beyonce famously keeps The Personal close to vest in her songs, and her “Beyonce” album explored more sensuality and togetherness, not separation. She's spent all of last year and 2014 battling or ignoring rumors that her own marriage to Jay-Z is on the rocks. And yet here is a clear-eyed, heart-felt ode, taking a side in her own family concluding: “We can still love again,” that her mom is precious and deserves to one day get her swerve back.
This showing-your-hand isn't about Perfect Brand Beyonce, it's about The Actual Life Of Beyonce, which is why it may have not fit on “Beyonce.” It would have arrived at a time to make gossip-mongers titter and, likely, Dec. 2013 was too early to pour all that out. My guess is that she sat with “Ring Off” for a good hearty minute. It's the antithesis to “Single Ladies,” for those who got the ring on it, and for their own good, had to take it off.
Pile that sentiment on top of a sunny guitar riff that sits somewhere between 1975 and Mary J.'s “Real Love” and a deep, dark synth underbelly that lurks in the minor key, and you've got some stirring material from Queen B.
Which brings us to the other song to leak today, “7/11.” Comparatively, this club throwaway isn't likely to move you, even physically. This literally could be any artist, it's like mad-libs for people who get bottle service.
“Beyonce,” the platinum edition, is out on Nov. 24 and includes remixes of “Flawless” featuring Nicki Minaj, “Blow” with Pharrell and “Drunk In Love” with Jay-Z and Kanye, and more.