Always Bey Referencing: Here are Swarm 's many, many Beyoncé parallels
While Beyoncé may or may not know about Swarm, the Prime Video series about a murderously obsessed fan sure knows a lot about Beyoncé.
Whether you're a casual Bey fan or a die-hard Hive stan, it's hard to catch all the parallels between the real deal and Swarm's Grammy-winning, surprise visual-album dropping, twin-birthing superstar Ni'Jah Hutton (Nirine S. Brown).
Here, a Beyhive of examples of how Swarm directly referenced and/or openly ripped off Beyoncé.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images; Chris Reel/Prime Video Beyoncé and Nirine S. Brown as Ni'Jah in 'Swarm'
Out that H-Town, comin', comin' down
Like Bey, Ni'Jah hails from Houston. She has a sister fans and critics consider more "bohemian" and "artistic," much like Solange has carved out her own lane, which now includes ballet composer. Ni'Jah is also known for dancing and singing and being able to "breathe while doing it at the same time," as Dre's sister and fellow superfan Marissa (Chlöe Bailey) declares. Ni'Jah is also a propulsive, divisive, yet undeniable cultural force, so we're already in full Yonce mode.
'23 Bonnies & Clydes
Bey has Jay-Z, Ni'Jah has Caché (played by Stephen Glover), and in Swarm, the latter couple even recreates The Carters' hand-holding pose from the "Apes---" video. But just because this is Amazon doesn't mean there was money to burn, so instead of the Louvre as the backdrop, Ni'Jah and Caché chose what looks like the Brooklyn Bridge — perhaps a nod to BK native Shawn Carter?
The Swarm stans
Just as the Hive rides for Bey, The Swarm stings for Ni'Jah. Stans of various pop stars love to group themselves into ride-or-die cliques — be they Mariah Carey's Lambs, Nicki Minaj's Barbs, Rihanna's Navy, Taylor Swift's Swifties — and they've been known to go to war for their respective idol. Men don't seem to inspire the same kind of rabid loyalty, however. I mean, I guess Harry Styles has the Stylers?
Ni'Jah drapes herself in similar queenly African imagery throughout Swarm and even has her own landmark festival performance, headlining Bonnaroo in Tennessee — which doesn't have the same clout as Coachella, at least not among the Instagram crowd, but lovers of music will joyously roll through the mud of Manchester, Tenn.
"The chick from Love and Basketball"
When Dre is so close to Ni'Jah she can almost taste it... she does. In 2018, Tiffany Haddish planted the soon-to-be-viral seed when she revealed an unnamed actress bit Beyoncé in the face. The Hive immediately went into Columbo mode, and concluded that the teeth marks belonged to Sanaa Lathan, known for roles in The Best Man, Love & Basketball, The Affair, and Succession. After Dre unwittingly sinks her chompers into her queen in a club, she makes a run for it. On her way out, two event staffers see her and one of them remarks, "You know who that was? The chick from Love & Basketball."
It's a billion dollars in the elevator, what do you expect?
In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment, camera footage leaks of Ni'Jah's sister striking her husband, Caché, in an elevator, an obvious callback to the 2014 incident that was later referenced by Bey herself in the remix to "Flawless": "Of course, sometimes s--- go down when it's a billion dollars on an elevator." Which still to this day begs the question: Does it, though?
Parkwood Entertainment Beyoncé, 'Renaissance'
Ni'Jah drops a surprise visual album, Festival, that sends the Swarm into a buzzy frenzy — no one more than Dre, who high off this unexpected hit of Ni'Jah, seduces and sleeps with Rory Culkin and his bowl of strawberries. The stunt itself, dropping a visual album with no notice whatsoever, is taken straight out of 2013's Beyoncé release playbook, while the name of the album, Festival, is already reminiscent of Renaissance, while Ni'Jah is also pictured riding a horse in a form of chain mail. However, hers is far more modest than Bey's Lady Godiva-inspired album artwork. And the visuals for Festival are very Lemonade-inspired, since, as we are all well-aware, there are no Renaissance visuals to mimic.
26 and counting...
Kevin Winter/Getty Images Beyoncé accepting her record-breaking 32nd Grammy Award.
Dre's go-to argument whenever anyone has the gaul to disparage Ni'Jah in favor of another artist is to rattle off how many Grammys Ni'Jah has (26) and to ask how many the other artist has (not 26) as proof of her diva's superiority. Bey came into 2023 with 28 or so Grammys, but she'll leave it with a record 32. So Ni'Jah needs to step up her game. Though, one has to wonder that in the Swarm universe, does Ni'Jah have an Album of the Year Grammy?
Jay-Z had his answer to Lemonade in 4:44 — the time he woke up to write the album's title song, which is also 4 min and 44 seconds long — while Caché has his F:LT ("First Last Tour"), on which he embarked after Festival. Meanwhile, Festival tread familiar ground dealing with Caché's infidelity and led to speculation among the Swarm that everyone's favorite power couple could be breaking up.
Say my name, say my name...
There are so many small Beyoncé verbal, musical, and visual cues sprinkled throughout Swarm, even the episode titles. Episode 2's title, "Honey," readily conjures this flash of brilliance which Bey samples on the Renaissance track, "Pure/Honey." Episode 4 is "Running Scared," both a reference to Dre's predicament after biting Ni'Jah and Ni'Jah and Caché's joint Running Scared II Tour — itself mimicking The Carter's 2014 On the Run Tour.
In that same episode, Kami's "Home Movies" is playing in the background, and the lyrics "Say my name, say my name" are especially prominent. An ode to Destiny's Child's immortal 1999 single? Or just a coincidence?
Considering how densely layered Swarm is, it's highly unlikely that anything is a coincidence. At least when it comes to Queen Bey.