Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

‘If that ain’t country, tell me what is’

‘COWBOY CARTER’ is a stunning display of Beyoncé’s country roots
Jada Thomas



Native Texan and global music sensation, Beyoncé, released her ninth studio album and act two of a musical trilogy, “COWBOY CARTER,” on March 29. With heavy influences spanning several eras of country music, spectacular vocal showcases and surprise features from music legends, Beyoncé has put out one of her best works more than two decades into her career. With 27 songs and a run time of one hour and 18 minutes, Beyoncé brings those who doubted her proof that she is more than country enough. 

“COWBOY CARTER” comes on the heels of Beyoncé’s 2022 release, “RENAISSANCE,” and has been deemed act two of a trilogy that fans believe will be comprised of genre-bending and career-defining music from the singer. When it was revealed that this album would be rooted in country music, fans were excited to see how Beyoncé would warp the genre to make it entirely her own. However, a loud minority emphasized that they would not accept Beyoncé as a country artist and that she could never create what they perceived as “real” country music. This is not the first instance of such an outcry against Beyoncé delving into the genre.

 In 2016, Beyoncé performed her song “Daddy Lessons” with The Chicks at the Country Music Awards, and many members of the audience were unhappy to see her on stage performing. Some even went as far as booing loudly in response to seeing a Black woman perform in a genre they felt like they had some sort of claim over. This performance sparked a slew of anger and racism aimed at Beyoncé. In a move that seemingly caved to the fury, the Country Music Awards failed to post the performance on any of their platforms and removed posts it had shared promoting Beyoncé’s performance.

Many speculate that this album came from that experience due to a recent Instagram post where Beyoncé states that “COWBOY CARTER” 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.” While Beyoncé has yet to speak to the truth of this theory, the album partially responds to critics who discredit her merit as a country singer. This is further proven by lyrics in the opening track, “Ameriican Requiem” when she sings, “Used to say I spoke, ‘Too Country’ / And the rejection came, said ‘I wasn’t country ‘nough’.” Backed by twangy guitar strums and a driving beat, this song is a spectacular opening track. It has exquisite vocal harmonies and a message of defiance — one that speaks to Beyoncé’s roots in southern Black Americana and dares adversaries to defy her, letting an integral part of her shine through this music. 

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The rest of the album is full of moments and surprises that shock the listener just as much as the opening track. When Beyoncé released the singles “16 Carriages” and “TEXAS HOLD ‘EM,” many believed they knew what they were in for when it came time to listen to the entire album. However, several of the other songs completely subvert all expectations fans may have had going into their listening experience. Like her two singles, there are stripped-back acoustic tracks that are deeply influenced by traditional country such as “PROTECTOR,” “ALLIIGATOR TEARS” and her cover of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene.” There are songs inspired by modern country, such as “JUST FOR FUN” and “LEVII’S JEANS.” The album also features tracks like, “BODYGUARD,” “SPAGHETTII,” “II HANDS II HEAVEN” and “AMEN” that blur the line between country and other genres such as pop, rock, rap, R&B and gospel. So, to say this album is strictly country would be inaccurate, but to say it is not at all would be false advertising. “COWBOY CARTER” exists in a gray area between the two ideologies, and the fact that Beyoncé manages to dance on that tightrope so expertly and create a stellar body of work is what makes her such a fantastic artist. 

More surprises on the album include interludes from country legends Willie Nelson and Dolly Parton, a cover of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” and the song “II MOST WANTED,” which features beloved Grammy Award-winning artist Miley Cyrus. Another fun and surprising feature is the track “YA YA,” which blends country, zydeco and rock to make arguably the most fun song on the album. The energy Beyoncé brings in this track has caused many to draw comparisons to the late Tina Turner, while also leaving fans desperate to see what she could do if she played more into those rock & roll influences. However, the most shocking song showcases Beyoncé’s talent as a vocalist in ways that audiences have never heard. Lyrically, “DAUGHTER” sounds like a female revenge song, reminiscent of tracks from Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert. Sonically, though, the song is slow and haunting, leading up to a climax that is nothing short of breathtaking. Mid-song, Beyoncé’s singing shifts to opera as she performs the famous “Caro mio ben” in its original Italian. How extraordinary Beyoncé’s display of vocal talent is in this song is difficult to put into words, but it serves as a reminder that she is far from done with pushing the boundaries of what she can accomplish as a musician. 

In the face of racism and disdain, Beyoncé proved that not only can she make country music, but that country is not a genre confined to one group of people. To support this point, she created space for Black country artists like Tanner Adell, Brittney Spencer, Shaboozey, Tiera Kennedy, Willie Jones and Reyna Roberts to display their talents and join her in displaying how blackness and country are intertwined. By bringing in influences from country and all of its subgenres, blending them with completely opposite music genres, speaking to her experiences as a Black woman from the South and witty musical choices like a washboard, horses galloping, boots stomping and the usage of her acrylic nails as percussion — inspired by Dolly Parton herself — she delivers on her promise that, “this ain’t a country album, this is a Beyoncé album.” With “COWBOY CARTER,” Beyoncé makes the meanings of country and Americana entirely her own while simultaneously redefining what it means to be country and who gets to be included in the genre, leaving an impact that will be felt for years to come. 

As of March 29, “COWBOY CARTER” is available wherever music can be bought or streamed.

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About the Contributor
Jada Thomas
Jada Thomas, Marketing Manager
Jada (she/they) is a communications major with a concentration in public relations, currently in her senior year. This is her seventh semester with The Paisano, and her time here has influenced her desire to pursue a career in media, public relations, or journalism after graduation. She is well known for being passionate about an array of topics — the most notable of which being superheroes, reading, writing, movies, and music.

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    billy bobApr 3, 2024 at 10:14 pm

    More of a Black Baptist church choir type of beat rather than a country music song. Many other artist are similar in the prospect. Sooooo to a purist this is a Failed experiment.