When Beyonce‘s latest single “Girls (Who Run The World)” leaked last month, fans were surprised to hear a new edgier sound from the songstress. Although the reviews were somewhat hit or miss on the reportedly unmixed track, Bey candidly admitted toBillboard mag that her fourth solo LP 4 is a brand new direction, largely inspired by her newfound musical freedom.
After taking over a year off and splitting with her manager dad Matthew Knowles in March, Beyonce credited her exposure to the arts during her prolonged vacation as a catalyst for her riskier repertoire.
“I’m approaching 30, and finally took a break in my life, which I’ve never had. I took more than a year off: I traveled around, spent time with my husband, woke up in my own bed, ate whatever I wanted, went to museums and Broadway plays, watched documentaries, and just had life experiences. I never get to go to concerts because I’m usually performing, so I saw so many shows – great bands, like Muse and Rage Against the Machine, that also inspired the album. At this point, I really know who I am, and don’t feel like I have to put myself in a box. I’m not afraid of taking risks – no one can define me.”
One Broadway show in particular, coincidentally produced by the singer’s husbandJay-Z, had a profound effect on 4.
“I recorded more than 60 songs: everything I ever wanted to try, I just did it. I started off being inspired by [Afrobeat music pioneer] Fela Kuti. I actually worked with the band from “Fela!” [the hit Broadway musical based on his life] for a couple of days, just to get the feel for the soul and heart of his music; it’s so sexy, and has a great groove you get lost in. I loved his drums, all the horns, how everything was on the one. What I learned most from Fela was artistic freedom: he just felt the spirit.”
While a release date hasn’t been set for 4 as of yet, Bey did drop by the Sony Music offices this week to preview 5 songs off the forthcoming album, so a 2011 release seems likely.
By Simone Hilliard