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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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It came in a dream


Beyoncé Knowles earned her claim to fame with the hip-hop-meets-diva trio Destiny’s Child. Since breaking away from the group in 2003, Beyoncé has drawn comparisons to Diana Ross for her ability to shine in a group and transition successfully to a solo career.

“B’Day,” which was released on Beyoncé’s 25th birthday, is her follow-up to “Dangerously in Love,” her multi-platinum solo debut. “B’Day,” laden with funky Motown soul, opens the door for further comparisons to Diana Ross.

“B’Day” was inspired by Beyoncé’s latest venture into acting, “Dreamgirls.” As Beyoncé explains at the end of the album, she was so inspired by her character in the film that she wrote and recorded “B’Day” in less than two weeks. The album is Beyoncé’s portrayal of what she wished her character would have said in the film.

The film, which premieres in December, is based on the Broadway hit about a trio of songstresses who become a hit in the 1960s and 1970s. Sound familiar?

Reflecting this inspiration, the beats on “B’Day” have a laid-back, funky ’70s vibe. The perfect example is “Suga Mama,” which has a classic ’70s soul beat laced with Beyoncé’s strong vocals and lyrics. This track uses guitar, bass guitar, drums and cymbals to create a stripped-down Motown sound. It does not emphasize booming bass like most of today’s hip-hop but still maintains a danceable rhythm with multiple percussions.

The thing missing from “B’Day” is an infectious shake-your-booty single like “Crazy in Love” to draw attention to the album.

Although “Déjà Vu,” the first single off of “B’Day,” made a brief appearance on the charts, it is the album’s second single, “Ring the Alarm,” that is causing all of the buzz.

“Ring the Alarm” is the most beautiful display of Beyoncé’s vocal capabilities to date. The song seems shockingly un-Beyoncé in some ways: It is angry, confrontational and violent. However, it is also strong, confident and shows real emotion while maintaining its polished sound.

Don’t forget the second half of Beyoncé’s fabulous lifestyle as the queen of hip-hop. Jay-Z, her long-term boyfriend, makes two guest appearances on her album and sounds as fresh as if it were his own.

“Upgrade U,” which features Jay-Z, works well with both of their styles. The beat is heavy and fast-paced, which complements Jay-Z’s rapping style and also meshes with Beyoncé’s diva-like vocals.

Although “B’Day” was created in a short time, it doesn’t sound rushed. This is because Beyoncé slows down the tempo in the second half of the album, focusing on acoustic guitars and whimsical, sad vocals. But, because the second half of the album is a waste in respect to booty-shaking hit singles, “B’Day” may not see much success on the charts beyond “Ring the Alarm.”

Fans of Beyoncé will enjoy the whimsical second half of the album, reminiscent of her Destiny’s Child days. But those who are looking to shake what their mama gave them will be left to catch their breath after “Ring the Alarm.”

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