By Michael Arceneaux
Earlier this month, Page Six reported that Beyoncé and Jay Z’s long-rumored duets album will arrive in earbuds around the world “very soon.” The news was met with mixed emotions: It seems some fans were less than thrilled about the idea of an album-length session of post-Lemonade couples counseling.
But why are we assuming that’s what this album will be? For all we know, it’s a bunch of up-tempo party tracks. Given that it’s been 10 years since Beyoncé’s fantastic B’Day, I’d be all for that. Failing that, I’m happy to entertain an album on which Jay Z explains in detail why Becky with the good hair ain’t worth a court-mandated visitation schedule for him and Blue Ivy. I don’t know what’s on this album, and neither do you. But I’m open to finding out, considering the pair’s well-established musical chemistry. Besides, any member of the Beyhive should know by now that there is no such thing as too much Beyoncé in the world.
The real reason I love the idea of a Jay Z and Beyoncé joint project, though, is that it could help usher in a new era for the duets album — a format that has tragically fallen by the wayside in our culture. Yes, duets still exist. No one dares disrespect the magic Ja Rule and Ashanti once made, or what Ciara and Ludacris did further down the country. However, none of those duos created a stand-alone project. Two of the aforementioned are hosting awards shows instead of performing at them.
More recently, we’ve enjoyed duets from Nick Jonas and Tinashe, Ariana Grande and The Weeknd, and Justin Bieber and Halsey. But none of them have given us anything close to the magic Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell produced in the 1960s. In 2013, Maxwell announced plans to go there with Alicia Keys, telling Billboard, “We’re definitely working on an EP that’s sort of Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell.” Three years later, we haven’t heard a peep from either about the project.
So, yes, I would love to hear a duets album from Beyoncé and her husband. While we’re at it, isn’t it about time that Drake and Rihanna quit playing and offered us their own duets album?
Apologies in advance to all those who bow before Aubrey Graham — I’d rather pretend Views never happened. That is, minus “Too Good,” which is yet another win in the ongoing streak that is Drake and Rihanna’s musical collaborations. The two clearly have the kind of chemistry that could last the length of a well-produced EP or full-fledged album.
Just imagine it: Right after the album drops, they go on tour together. In all likelihood, Drake might piss Rihanna off enough for her to stop dealing with him entirely by the time the tour wraps. That’s great news for Drake fans, who can look forward to yet another whiny “girl, why you move on from me even though I ain’t treat you right” Drake album. Similarly, RiRi fans would get treated to an album themed around the men you are forced to block on iMessage. Win-win.
Not all duet projects work. Even I can’t get behind Faith Evans’s upcoming duets album with her very dead husband, the late Notorious B.I.G. Posthumous albums are dicey on their own, period, but a duets album with the deceased that includes a hologram? Maybe not. Ever.
But all in all, let’s believe, y’all. We as a people need to revitalize the duets album. We’ve let it go to waste for far too long. Please do this, Beyoncé and Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z. For me. For the culture. For music. I’ll even sign up for Tidal if you do it. Promise!