To celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Beyoncé's sophomore studio album (released on Sept. 4, 2006), Fuse brings you Remember the Record: B'Day at 10 where we honor her chart-topping LP. Start it off with an essay reminding you why the LP was a career-changing moment for Queen Bey.
How you rank Beyoncé’s albums depends on what type of Beyoncé fan you are.
If you cannot let go of Destiny’s Child, your favorite is probably Dangerously In Love, which offers slight teases of The Writing’s On The Wall via songs like “Yes.” If you enjoy Beyoncé best in what is considered more mature presentation, you typically fancy the underappreciated 4 and the masterpiece that is her eponymous fifth album. As pretty as she sounds on the half-adult-contemporary, half-not-that album, I Am…Sasha Fierce, that’s no Beyoncé fan’s favorite, and if they say otherwise, I discourage you from believing them.
I appreciate them all, though as much as I adore what she has does recently, especially with BEYONCÉ, nothing makes my mind, body, and twerk respond the way her sophomore album, B’Day, does. Recorded in just a few short weeks after filming Dreamgirls, B’Day was a collision of high energy, hard-hitting beats, and an intensity that was previously teased in a handful of solo and group tracks here but not completely formulated until this moment.
That said, the album did have a bit of a rocky star. Its lead single, “Déjà Vu” featuring Jay Z, was Off The Wall-esque in its sound but did not match the massive success of their previous collaboration, “Crazy In Love.” Fans also launched an online petition asking her to reshoot the video. Its follow-up single, “Ring The Alarm” fared worse, but to Beyoncé’s credit, the shout-filled single showed that she was willing to take a risk.
Ultimately, it was “Irreplaceable,” which reigned atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks, that returned Beyoncé to radio dominance. It may have taken that song for some to give B’Day a chance, but for the over 500,000 of us who got it the week of its release (which, coincidentally, was the same week of her actual birthday), the majority of us knew a great thing when we heard it.
At the time, Beyoncé said of the album, “It’s kind of a celebration of a woman that finds her voice and knows who she is and what she wants.” She also added, “The men will love it, too, because the beats are so hard.”
As a fellow Houstonian, what I love most about B’Day is how unapologetically Black and southern it is. For those of us who grew up listening to bounce tracks like “Get Ready, Ready,” it was fascinating to hear a New York producer like Swizz Beatz create an R&B equivalent of that sound for the masses. Likewise, on the Neptunes-produced “Kitty Kat,” you hear Beyoncé break into what fellow Houston natives would refer to as the Southside flow.
Then there is how Beyoncé incorporated gay Black references into her work, by way of working with choreographer Jonte for the videos for tracks like “Freakum Dress” and “Sugar Mama.” At the time, Beyoncé noted that she used some of her own money to film videos for this album. With B’Day, both the recording process and the accompanying video anthology that would later be released were the templates for what she would later use to create her 2013 visual album.
B’Day was fun; it was Black as hell; it was performed well; and it was captured gorgeously in its visuals. It was the start of a major turnaround for Beyoncé, capital-A Artiste. I look back on the time of B’Day’s release with nothing but fond memories. One only hopes that Beyoncé gives those who salivate most over her up-tempo tracks a worthy sequel soon.