Beyoncé’s ‘Break My Soul’ pays tribute to house music’s black queer roots

The song’s release earlier this week coincided with the crossroads of Juneteenth, Pride Month and Black Music Month. A house track at its core, the song samples Robin S.’s 1993 hit “Show Me Love” and vocals from black queer bounce icon Big Freedia.

House music is a form of electronic dance music developed in Chicago in the early 1980s that quickly spread to the underground music scene in cities such as New York, Detroit, and London.

The genre has also increasingly influenced mainstream music. In 1989, Queen Latifah released “Come in My House”, a rap-house song. During the ’90s, Crystal Water’s “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless)” saw pop success as well as C+C Music Factory’s mix of hip-hop and house, which produced “Gonna Make You Sweat” and “Just Created such classics as A”. A touch of love.” Since the mid-00s, Grammy-winning producer Kaytranada has partnered with hip-hop and R&B artists.

What little is known about house music is that it has its roots in black queer culture. It has been the soundtrack to black queer nightlife as a liberating sanctuary.

“Release your anger / Release your mind / Release your job / Release the tide / Release your business / Release your stress / Leave your love / Forget the rest” by Big Freedia, sung by Beyoncé The song was also featured in 2016. Formation,” encouraging listeners to free themselves from the stresses of everyday life and instead embrace love and joy.

University of Miami musicology professor Tammy Carnodle said house clubs provided young black and Latinx gay communities a place to shrug off negativity. She compared nights in these clubs to a spiritual, judgment-free experience in which the harsh bass, layered polyrhythms and beat drops of house music evoked a sense of ecstasy among listeners.

“In terms of black queer enjoyment, these particular venues and house music served as a counterpart to church and gospel music,” Karnodle said. “These places were places that helped individuals reclaim their humanity from not only the white majority places that viewed them in certain ways, but the black community that had distanced them as well.”

home history

Known for its upbeat tempo, repetitive four-by-four rhythms and sampled vocals, house music is said to have got its name from an underground gay club in Chicago known as The Warehouse, which only Members club that opened in the late 1970s.

Clubs such as Warehouse provided a safe space for queer communities of color who were excluded from white gay clubs while facing homosexuality within their own racial and ethnic communities. DJs like Frankie Knuckles, known as “godfather of house music” created an electrifying experience for the mostly black and Latinx queer audience, who were able to let loose on the dancefloor and embrace the community.

Knuckles, who came from New York to Chicago, presented house music as a cultural dialogue between the two cities. In New York City, dance clubs such as Paradise Garage and Loft were preceded by warehouses, providing a safe nightlife haven for queer youth of color to dance to sounds curated by DJs such as Larry Levan.

Frankie Knuckles (aka Francis Warren Nichols, Jr.), Boogie Down Productions rapper Harmony and C+C Music Factory producer David Cole (David Byron Cole) attend a party on November 10, 1991 in New York City.

Kernodal said that what differentiated clubs like Warehouse from traditional nightclubs is that they were alcohol-free zones, rather than serving juices and fruit. The listeners were not under the influence of drugs and alcohol, rather they were intoxicated by the music.

House pioneer Jesse Saunders said that house music really emerged as a genre in the early 1980s as more clubs such as Warehouse opened up and more straight Chicago youth from the South and other regions flocked to these venues. shared with outside. World. Saunders noted that even in an isolated city like Chicago, house music clubs were places of unity that brought people of different racial backgrounds and sexual orientations together as the genre became more popular.

“House music is universal, there is a shared love of freedom, wanting to dance and not being crucified for that,” Saunders said. “House music as a culture is one of acceptance, it creates harmony.”

deleted history

Relating to genres such as rap and hip hop, Karnodal said that home music is often removed from conversations about black DJ culture due to homophobia. Although house, rap and hip hop all came to America from Jamaican dancehall and sound system culture, rap and hip hop became more palatable and respected based on how they presented images of black masculinity that were considered acceptable. would go, he said.

London-based house DJ and record producer Kwame Sappho, better known by his stage name Funk Butcher, said that house music has also been largely whitewashed and is often not associated with Black culture.

“Homophobia, in a mainstream sense, as a hindrance to the commercial viability of a sound has affected house perhaps more than any other music genre because so many mainstream music genres are selling something,” says Saffo. he said. “They’re selling an image to a mainstream audience.”

“Break My Soul,” with Drake’s new album, “honestly, never mindHouse is also said to have influences. With more mainstream artists creating house tracks and breaking into the genre, Saunders said that house is being pushed further and has been able to gain more reach. .
Song lyric video Over seven million views in just a few days and was number one on the iTunes Top 100 Songs chart. soon after its release.

Sappho said that the success of “Break My Soul” comes as no surprise to those in the home community who have always known the potential of the genre. He links house music’s black queer roots to the genre’s importance as a form of social commentary, highlighting the importance of Beyoncé singing about burnout and the toxic hustle culture during a global pandemic that plagued everyone. Is.

welcomed as great resignation anthem“Break My Soul” has a certain universality that speaks to the broad universality of home music in creating an inclusive environment free from oppression.

In metropolitan underground gay clubs, queer communities of color laid the foundation for a style synonymous with emancipation, which contemporary artists would later use to spread messages of hope and perseverance.

“Break My Soul” is the first single from Beyoncé’s Upcoming Album “Renaissance” To be released on 29th July. Karnodal noted that the title of the album, which means Rebirth, is important. He said that we are not only in a renaissance when it comes to the revival and mainstreaming of domestic music, but also a social rebirth in light of the loss so much during the pandemic in search of a more inclusive world.

,[‘Break My Soul’] There’s a big message to us about freedom and reform and upliftment, who we are as black people and our music,” Kernodal said. “I believe that too. [Beyoncé] Saying that this includes our queer brothers and sisters. We cannot be free if we are not all free.”