Everything We Know About Beyoncé's Cowboy Carter So Far

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Beyoncé’s Renaissance was always intended as a multi-album project. When she released her seventh studio album in July 2022, the singer revealed in a note to fans that it was only the first of three acts. A year and a half later, we now know what shape that second entry will take: an album entitled Act II that was announced during the Super Bowl. We couldn’t be more ready for the continuation of the Renaissance era. Read on for all we know so far about Beyoncé’s highly anticipated follow-up to her dance music masterpiece.

Why was Beyoncé in a Verizon commercial?

Shortly after the Super Bowl halftime show concluded, Beyoncé appeared on our television screens in a Verizon ad. Considering that the artist rarely ever does sponsored content, it was a bit surprising that she would appear in such a commercial, which is why viewers suspected that there was something more to come from it.

The commercial took the concept of “breaking to the internet” to the next level, showing Beyoncé engaging in increasingly wild stunts (from opening a lemonade stand to becoming the first performer in space) in an attempt to “break” Verizon’s service. Then for a split second at the end, she says, “Okay, they ready, drop the new music!” Of course, this had the exact internet-breaking effect that the advertising team intended.

How did Beyoncé tease her new music?

Shortly after the ad aired, Beyoncé posted a short video to her Instagram account, depicting a taxi (with a Texas license plate reading “HOLD EM”) driving through a desert. In the teaser, we see a group of men staring at something above their heads, before a banjo starts playing and the camera zooms out to reveal a billboard with a pin-up illustration of Beyoncé wearing a cowboy hat, boots, and not much else. The taxi zooms past as Beyoncé sings, “This ain’t Texas / ain’t no hold ’em / so lay your cards, down, down, down, down.”

When will Act II come out?

The album will come out on March 29th, 2024. At the very end of the teaser, the screen cut to black with nothing but “act ii / 3.29” on the screen, in the same font Beyoncé used for the first act of Renaissance.

Did Beyoncé release new songs?

After sharing the teaser, Beyoncé posted again to Instagram, writing “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM and 16 CARRIAGES out now.” That caption accompanied the art for both songs, staying true to the black and silver motif of Renaissance but with a country western twist. For a short time after she posted the single art, the songs were only available on Tidal much to the chagrin of the non-Tidal using Beyhive; but after several minutes, the songs were available for streaming on YouTube, Spotify, and Apple Music. (The artist is the queen of an extremely dramatic digital drop.)

How long has Beyoncé been waiting on these songs?

Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Knowles, posted to Instagram on Sunday night, writing, “I have loved this record for years, now so happy that you guys get to hear. It's amazing,” leaving commenters shook that Beyoncé has just been casually sitting on these country bops for a minute.

As one X user pointed out, in “16 CARRIAGES,” Bey sings, “It’s been 38 summers and I’m not in my bed.” Considering that she’ll be 43 this year, that means she wrote the song almost five years ago, predating even the first act of Renaissance. Beyoncé confirmed this herself in her March 19 Instagram post when she said “This album has been over five years in the making.”

What is the title of Renaissance Act II?

On March 19, Beyoncé posted to Instagram to reveal that the title of her forthcoming album is Cowboy Carter. She also posted the cover art for the album; fittingly for a sequel to Renaissance, it also features Bey sitting on a horse. That’s where the similarities end, though. Unlike the shimmering disco horse on Renaissance, this cover finds Beyoncé sitting side saddle on a white horse that appears to be mid-gallop. While she was just barely draped in silver jewelry on the Renaissance cover, Cowboy Carter has her covered head to toe in a red white, and blue Nudie-inspired suit, a banner with the album’s title across her chest. Last but not least, she’s hoisting a giant American flag in one hand.

What has Beyoncé said about her new album?

Accompanying the cover and title reveal, Beyoncé penned a long caption in honor of the 10-day countdown to the album. “I feel honored to be the first Black woman with the number one single on the Hot Country Songs chart,” she wrote, thanking her fans for their support. “My hope is that years from now, the mention of an artist’s race, as it relates to releasing genres of music, will be irrelevant.”

Beyoncé also said that Cowboy Carter has been “over five years in the making,” and that it was “born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed…and it was very clear that I wasn’t.”

“But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive,” she said. “It feels good to see how music can unite so many people around the world, while also amplifying the voices of some of the people who have dedicated so much of their lives educating on our musical history.”

Lastly, the singer wrote, “This ain’t a Country album. This is a ‘Beyoncé’ album. This is act ii COWBOY CARTER, and I am proud to share it with y’all!”

What else do we know about the album?

In her Instagram caption, Beyoncé promised “a few surprises on the album” and said that she had “collaborated with some brilliant artists who I deeply respect.”

TIME reported that she recruited Black country artists such as the banjo player Rhiannon Giddens on “Texas Hold ‘Em” and steel guitarist Robert Randolph on “16 Carriages.” That is likely only a fraction of the Black Americana artists that the album will highlight, if Renaissance was any indication of Bey’s passion for championing Black artists.

Additionally, in a recent interview, Dolly Parton let slip that Beyoncé had recorded a cover of “Jolene” that she thought was “probably gonna be on her country album.” “I love her! She’s a beautiful girl and a great singer,” Parton added, in perhaps the understatement of the century.

Are there any special editions of the album?

Yes. On March 20, Beyoncé posted the art for the limited edition exclusive cover vinyl on Instagram, featuring herself holding a smoking cigar, standing on a small platform, her hair in nearly knee-length braids with red and white beads. The artist is posing nude except for a red, white, and blue sash draped across her chest, which reads, “act ii BEYINCÉ.” And no, that’s not a typo — it’s an intentional nod to her mother’s maiden name, after which Beyoncé is named. Tina Knowles-Lawson appeared on the In My Heart podcast in 2020 to discuss the history of the family name, saying that she was born “Celestine Beyoncé, which at that time was not a cool thing to have that weird name,” per USA Today.

Knowles-Lawson is actually one of only a few people in her family to have the last name Beyoncé recorded on their birth certificate. “I think me and my brother Skip were the only two that had B-E-Y-O-N-C-E,” she said on the podcast. “Because we asked my mother when I was grown, I was like, ‘Why is my brother’s name spelled B-E-Y-I-N-C-E? You know, it’s all these different spellings.’” Knowles’ mother replied that that was what was on her birth certificate, and she asked why she didn’t ask for a correction. According to Tina, her mother responded, “I did one time. The first time, I was told ‘be happy that you're getting a birth certificate. Because, at one time, Black people didn't get birth certificates.’”

Both the album’s title, Cowboy Carter, and the sash seem to continue Beyoncé’s artistic goal of ensuring that her family history, and the history of Black people and culture in America, are highlighted.

The limited edition variant cover is also featured on merchandise that’s now available for pre-order on Beyoncé’s webstore. Among the pieces of special merch are four different versions of the vinyl record, each in a different color (red, white, blue, and black). There are also two CD box sets that come with unique t-shirts. Last but not least, you can also buy the CD alone, which comes in two variants with different photographs of Bey’s face on the back of the case.

Could we finally get that long-awaited sequel to “Telephone”?

Maybe — or at least many fans seem to think so. It’s been almost 14 years since Lady Gaga and Beyoncé dropped the truly culture-shifting video for “Telephone,” yet because the video ended with “To be continued…” people are still holding out for that sequel. In their defense, there are a number of extremely plausible clues that it might actually happen.

First of all, Beyoncé dropped her new singles on February 11, which is the day that, in the original music video, Lady Gaga is booked into jail. There’s also the fact that the beginning of the teaser that Bey posted is extremely similar to the ending of the “Telephone” music video: both depict Bey speeding through the desert. (Also, Beyoncé announced this new era with a Verizon commercial, and Verizon, famously, is a telephone carrier.)

Regardless of whether or not it’s a sequel to the much-beloved music video, another Gaga and Beyoncé collab would be truly iconic, especially since the “Poker Face” singer (which contains the lyric “I wanna hold ’em like they do in Texas,” ahem) already had her own yee-haw era with 2016’s Joanne.

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