Cowboy Carter is a Cultural Strategy

by J. Rachel Reyes with Porshéa Patterson-Hurst, The Opportunity Agenda

From Houston to Milan, “Cowboy Carter” has set the world abuzz. This latest release is not only another Beyoncé album filled with hit after hit. It’s also a pop culture milestone. Because “Cowboy Carter” is more than a meaningful work by a master at their craft, it is a conduit of Beyoncé’s cultural power.

The heart of this seminal work is deeply rooted in country, befitting the Texas-born artist of Louisiana Creole heritage. Although originally intended to kick off Beyoncé’s three-part project to reclaim musical genres with Black origins, “Cowboy Carter” (Act II) follows “Renaissance” (Act I), her album honoring the Black queer community that birthed dance, house, and disco.

Despite her Southern bona fides and master artistry, she’s faced contempt and criticism in trying to explore country music. Driven by racism, country music gatekeepers have either chosen to dismiss Beyoncé or explicitly bar her from the genre. The most egregious public incident being the hostile reception she received during her performance at the 2016 Country Music Awards.

Beyoncé took inspiration from that moment of rejection. Through “Cowboy Carter,” she challenges the country genre as well as its creators and fans. She forces an education – that country originated with Black artists and innovators. And now that the listener is enlightened, it only makes sense that she has a place in it.

However, the album demands more than return and reclamation. Several tracks pay tribute to Black country artists both past and present, calling listeners to give them their overdue respect and admiration. Others recognize white elders of country music and their successors, which seemingly acknowledges their impact on country but also playfully wonders whether their presence is needed to legitimize Beyoncé herself in this space.

And with powerful lyrics and the interweaving of many other music genres, “Cowboy Carter” ultimately speaks to the Black experience in America. As stated in Parkwood Entertainment’s press release, the album “makes no apologies, and seeks no permission in elevating, amplifying, and redefining the sounds of music, dismantling accepted false norms about Americana culture.”

Every track and interlude is intentional, every collaboration rife with meaning. And every visual – the few Bey bestows upon us – is calculated and measured. The Beyhive, as usual, has taken notice. So we’ve compiled a few of their think pieces that deep dive into various aspects of “Cowboy Carter,” revealing Beyoncé, the cultural strategist, and her effort to shift narratives and reshape society.

After all, “you know you that bitch when you’ cause all this conversation.”

@beysus.christ Allow me to enlighten you! Act ii Cowboy Carter, The Carter Family, Leslie Riddle, and whu Bey may be opening in Mexico #actii #cowboycarter #beyonce ♬ original sound – Liittle Debbie

Act II: Cowboy Carter Explained

Little Debbie (@beysus.christ) discusses the significance of the album title, Cowboy Carter, and the possible connections to country musicians, The Carter Family and Leslie Riddle.

@hennyondatokTalking about COWBOY CARTER, rodeo queens & nationalism/patriotism in Black communities♬ LofiHiphop/comfortable/10 minutes(1463765) – nightbird_bgm

Cowboy Carter Cover Art Explained

dominicanne hathaway (@hennyondatok) considers the symbolism and significance of Cowboy Carter's cover art.

5 Black History References in Cowboy Carter

@kahlilgreene aka Gen Z Historian explains the significance behind some of the references Beyoncé makes in Cowboy Carter.

@dissectpodcast The meaning behind Beyonce’s cover of “Blackbird” by The Beatles. Thank you to @T Sho for guest hosting this video! #beyonce #blackbird #blackbiird #cowboycarter #actii ♬ BLACKBIIRD – Beyoncé & Tanner Adell & Brittney Spencer & Tiera Kennedy & Reyna Roberts

Meaning Behind Beyoncé’s Cover of “Blackbird”

The Dissect Podcast (@dissectpodcast) discusses the importance of Beyoncé's cover of "Blackbird" by The Beatles and collaboration with contemporary Black female artists.

@theafternoonspecial Imagine my surprise when I found out that it wasn’t just a western where they just eat spaghetti 🙄 (Ya Ya is the best song on Cowboy Carter btw). #cowboycarter #beyoncé #westernmovie #spaghettiwestern #filmhistory #videoessay ♬ original sound – Bobbi 📺

A History of the Spaghetti Western

Bobbi of @theafternoonspecial deep dives into this history of the spaghetti Western film subgenre which presumably inspired the song "Spaghetti" on Cowboy Carter.

@hennyondatok Beyoncé and Black cultural preservation Special thanks to @theericklouis ♬ original sound – dominicanne hathaway

Beyoncé, the Black Culture Preservationist

dominicanne hathaway (@hennyondatok) discusses the multiple ways Beyoncé references and preserves Black culture and Black history - from music sampling to experimental vocals to instrumentation and more. The importance of Cowboy Carter and it’s unfolding discussion on Tiktok / lessons in appreciating art. #beyonce #cowboycarter #review #thoughts #opinion #fypシ゚ ♬ original sound – Chris P., MD

The Importance of Cowboy Carter

Chris P. ( explains how Cowboy Carter taught him the importance of knowing context behind art when evaluating it.

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