Breaking the internet: Beyoncé is releasing Renaissance Act II, March 29

Beyoncé has announced that she's releasing a country-inspired album, the second instalment of Renaissance, next month - all during Verizon's Super Bowl commercial.

We're only a month into 2024, and one thing is certain: Beyoncé sure knows how to break the internet. The queen of surprise drops (remember when she released a full visual album back in 2013 without a hint of notice) sent fans into a tailspin today during a commercial she shot with US phone provider Verizon that aired during the Super Bowl's 3rd quarter.

Based around the idea that Verizon's internet service can't be broken, Beyonce put it through a series of tests, sending herself into space and creating an AI bot in her likeness. But the real jewel of the ad came in the last 10 seconds with Beyonce saying, "OK, they ready... drop the new music."

Within minutes of Verizon's commercial airing, Beyoncé posted a teaser clip to Instagram, simply labeled act ii and announced a March 29 release date. The new music forms the second instalment of her 2022 Renaissance album. Now that silver cowboy hat at the Grammys last week makes a lot more sense.

Now while any Beyonce album announcement is a huge deal, Renaissance: Act II serves as the titan's first fully fledged foray into country as a genre instead of the usual pop or hip-hop fare. This isn't the first time we've seen Beyonce embrace her Texan roots, with one of the standout tracks (in my opinion) from her 2016 album, Lemonade being the fiddle-heavy Daddy Lessons.

She later made headlines for her performance of this at the Country Music Awards alongside the long-exiled trio The Chicks, who were severely punished for their political openness and criticism of Republican President George Bush back in 2004. The visual of an Black woman alongside them on stage was striking then and remains resonant in my mind now. For anyone who's worried Beyonce might not be able to pull this off, go watch that performance. I promise you, she's got this.

Country music has been historically hostile towards Black artists, often erasing them and their contributions to the genre. Like most things, white men have often incorrectly been given all the credit, with a certain type of 'all-American' narrative taking hold; one that is extremely, white. This has only changed in recent years with the rise of artists like Mickey Guyton, Kane Brown, Lil Nas X and Brittney Spencer to name a few.

For someone like Beyonce whose entire career has been a love letter to the history, achievement, excellence and liberation of people of colour, making a country album is a huge statement.

I hope its ripples will resonate and create change for all kinds of people within the music industry. Not only that, but considering Beyonce's body of work over the decades has been incredibly referential in its homages, I expect this album will be no exception. Forgotten voices may finally get their due.

It wasn't just the announcement that Beyonce dropped today, preparing us all for March 29 but she gave us a pretty delicious taste of what to expect with two new songs: 'Texas Hold 'Em' which I was already singing along to on the first listen. The fiddles. The vocals. The real hoedown vibe.

And then there's Sixteen Carriages the tender ballad that is unexpectedly personal. It details everything from the impact of her father's infidelity to the gruelling demands of Destiny's Child and the emotional tension she feels as a working mother, often on the road away from her kids.

Both of these songs are strong indicators of a powerful project that I am calling now, will be featuring heavily in my Spotify Wrapped 2024. I think we're in for a wild, exciting and important ride as always with Beyonce's art and I can't wait to see what her country offering unlocks and unleashes.