top of page

Cowboy Carter via SMS

You’ve probably heard it by now, if you’re a person of the times: Beyoncé’s “Cowboy Carter” album. Some folks have been calling it her country debut, but according to website, it’s not a country album, it’s a Beyoncé album. Touché, ma’am, touché.

The weekend the “Cowboy Carter” debuted, a friend and I had a bit of a chat about it. Peek in on that text exchange. It has, of course, been edited for brevity, clarity, and to remove most of the shenanigans.




Me: Did you listen to the album?


Friend: I did. You?


Me: Did. It was nice.


I decided people need firmer spiritual foundations. People are acting a butt, as they’re wont to do, about Beyoncé. And as I said listened, it was nice but it struck me:  You stan—not fan—because you don’t have a foundation.


Friend: I mean … I’m giving the album more spins before making my decisions But … I’mma say this: It’s a good album. The songs and songwriting are strong. How she has used legendary features and samples continues to perplex me. I love her take on “Jolene”. And I also feel like she underwhelms and misses opportunities for classics in the way she uses legendary features and samples in such lackluster ways. On “Renaissance,” it was Grace Jones. On “Cowboy Carter,” it’s basically everyone minus Willie Nelson and Miley Cyrus and Shaboozy.

And to keep it a buck, her best collab in acts 1 and 2 is the Miley track. Hands down. She underutilized Dolly. And Willie Nelson. They were props, not collaborators.


Me: She doesn’t really know how to collaborate, I don’t think.


Friend: And don’t get me started on “Blackbird” as a missed opportunity. Because ALL THOSE COUNTRY GIRLS CAN SANG, SANG.


Me: It was done before it started.


Friend: All three have vocals for real, for real.


And why “Oh Louisiana” is even on the album, I’ll never know, because it came. And it went. I just do not fully understand Beyoncé’s choices. But hey—doesn’t matter. Still a nice album.


And here’s the thing: Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton are both musicians and songwriters, so the possibilities would have been endless. And it’s weird to not have a zydeco record or nod on the album. 

The two acts are so interesting to me because though I see and understand the themes for both and I enjoy both, they still feel oddly disjointed and incomplete to me. [Also], this album ain’t as country (culture not the genre) as people are trying to make it out to be. And that’s OK, I suppose. I think it reflects someone who has lived distant from where she started and is looking back to that starting place from her new  distance. She loves it, but isn’t in it or of it.


Me: I agree with pretty much everything you’ve said. Like I said, it was “nice.”


Friend: It’s nice, indeed. And to your stan vs. fan thoughts … I want people to acknowledge more that Beyoncé takes up more space than she creates. And that’s not a dig. That’s just the truth. She isn’t a way maker. She is a space taker.


Name one artist that Beyoncé has put on. There isn’t one.


Me: Chloe ‘nem?


Friend: I’ll take them. Kinda. And I still stand on Beyoncé—to date—takes up space more than she makes space. And again, that’s not a dig. But sending folks flowers and giving them two seconds on a track where they are, basically, your background singers ain’t it.


Me: A culture vulture, if you will.


Friend: She is. And when she enters a space, she sucks out all the oxygen. And she becomes that thing. So now all the discourse about Black people in Country will be centered around her.


That is really annoying to me. Meanwhile, Black country artists been out here. And they been making great (not just good but great) music.

And now they gotta cry alligator tears just because Beyoncé sent them flowers


Even with K. Michelle. Say what ya want … but ol’ girl puts out good R&B albums and has been honing her country sound and trying to get it right before dropping a full album. And that album is gonna slap. I know it.


Me: That’s why I said that about K. Michelle a long time ago [when we were talking]. Because if we’re honest, she knows Beyoncé doing that was going to suck up all the air. 

Friend: OH! AND “COWBOY CARTER” HAS NO DARIUS RUCKER?!?! Such an easy win missed.


bottom of page