6 Reasons Why Beyonce’s ‘Formation’ Is Important


Beyoncé is back by popular demand!

On Saturday afternoon, she broke the Internet with her new song “Formation” and its accompanying visual. The nearly five-minute visual, directed by Malina Matsoukas, is filled with powerful imagery related to black culture — and we love it!

Bey doesn’t hold back whatsoever on “Formation.” She lets the world know that she owns her blackness, she knows her history and she wants to see other black people succeed like her. “Formation” may be one of Bey’s most politically charged works to date.

Rated R&B has the six reasons why Beyonce’s “Formation” matters.

1. She doesn’t give a f*ck what you think about her or her family.


Beyoncé has been radio silent much of that last year, barely giving interviews or addressing rumors and criticism about her life and family. One major topic of discussion in the world of Beyoncé is how she styles her 4-year-old daughter Blue Ivy’s natural hair and her husband Jay-Z’s appearance. Beyoncé boldly proclaims “I like my baby hair, with baby hair and afros / I like my negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.”

Beyoncé doesn’t stop there with the haters– she let’s them have it even more. She addresses  people who try to attribute her huge success to being a part of the illuminati. “Y’all haters corny with that illuminati mess,” she sings on “Formation.” 

2. She celebrates New Orleans, a decade after Hurricane Katrina.


Beyoncé returns to Louisiana 10 years after her video “Deja Vu” and a decade after Hurricane Katrina. It’s symbolic because it’s been a decade since the horrific tragedy. The singer brings this to the forefront her heritage and shines a light on the culture of the city while never letting us forget how that natural disaster changed that city forever.

3. She continues to be a voice for modern-day feminists.


The power in Beyoncé has always been her strong and independent voice as a woman and now feminist. Beyoncé continues to take ownership of her sexuality and doesn’t conform to the traditional roles expected of women in R&B and Hip-Hop culture. Yoncé teases her man singing she’d “might buy him Red Lobster” if his sex is good, totally flipping the script on traditional gender roles and dating.  Not only is Beyoncé twerking, but she’s very socially aware in “Formation” and owning her beauty, sexiness, and power as the Queen.

4. She pays homage to the black gay community.


Beyoncé has long been an icon in the black gay community. On “Formation” she gives a major platform to popular bounce artists Messy Mya & Big Freedia. The late Messy Mya can be heard on the track, along with Big Freedia who is also very popular among the gay community. The addition of these performers, especially including their voice helps to give the gay/queer culture an even larger platform and shows she respects the community that she is inspired so heavily by in her music and dance.

5. She salutes #BlackGirlMagic. 


There is some major #BlackGirlMagic displayed in the video. Her amazing dancers are all wearing big beautiful natural hair and powerfully dancing. The video displays an array of black beauty in all shades and hair textures showing just how amazing black women are.

Beyoncé is a powerful, inspirational black woman and rightfully so. She dedicated her life to her career and it has paid off — literally. She is worth over $450 million, according to Forbes. While Bey continues to slay the world, she unites black women on “Formation” and encourages them to slay too. This speaks volumes. For some reason, prominent black women (particularly in entertainment) are pit against each other. Beyoncé brushes it off and says there’s enough room for every black woman to succeed.

6. She makes it clear that Black Lives Matter.


In the past, Bey has been criticized for not publicly speaking on social issues such as the Black Lives Matters movement. Although she has attended Trayvon Martin’s vigil and reportedly donated money to bail out protesters arrested in police brutality demonstrations. She makes it more clear that black lives matter on “Formation.” From young black kid in a hoodie dancing in front of a lineup of armed officers to showing “stop shooting us” graffitied on a wall, Bey is fed up with cops killing black people for no reason.

Watch the full “Formation” video here.

— Written by Keithan Samuels & Michael Howard

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Remembering Janet Jackson’s Album ‘janet’ 25 Years Later

Every legendary artist has a career-defining album; for Janet Jackson, janet is that album. Released on May 18, 1993, the album followed Rhythm Nation, a collection of songs that herald the pop icon joining the social and political conversation on the state of the world.

Although the socially conscious theme shined on Rhythm Nation, it wasn’t nearly as potent on janet. As her first album to be released on Virgin Records, the youngest Jackson sibling made some daring yet liberating choices for her new era. For starters, she dropped her surname for the album’s title to show her independence from the weight behind her family’s name. She updated her sound from industrial, and incorporated diverse genres including jazz, opera and hip-hop on many songs. She became more comfortable with her body, showing it off in the September 1993 issue of Rolling Stone. Lastly, janet highlighted her newfound confidence as a musician, taking charge of her lyrics and its accompanying production with the guidance of producing duo Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis.

Less about world news, and more messages about eroticism (but safe practices: “Be a Good Boy”) and femininity, janet. brewed a larger, yet taboo conversation that Jackson didn’t explore fully discuss until this album.

“Sex has been an important part of me for several years. But it just hasn’t blossomed publicly until now,” Jackson told Rolling Stone in 1993. “I’ve had to go through some changes and shed some old attitudes before feeling completely comfortable with my body. Listening to my new record, people intuitively understand the change in me.”

The changed resulted in her first album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 350,000 copies sold in its first week. At the time, it was the highest debut sales for a woman since Nielsen Music began tracking sales in 1991.

The album spawned six top 10 singles on Billboard’s Hot 100, including two No.1 singles: “Again” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.” The latter track, the album’s lead single, earned Jackson a Grammy win for Best R&B Song.

On the 25th anniversary of janet, producer Jimmy Jam shares how he views this groundbreaking album today and how it compares to a milestone project by Marvin Gaye.

“I view [janet] as a really good album,” he exclusively tells Rated R&B. “I think the album is very reflective of where we all were in our lives at that time. We always said Rhythm Nation was our What’s Going On and janet was our Let’s Get It On album. [janet] was definitely the love album.”

Jam also shares his thoughts on Jackson being honored with her “long overdue” Icon Award at the Billboard Music Awards this Sunday.

“It’s obviously well-deserved and it’s probably a little overdue. But that’s okay,” he says. “She’s still alive to see it. And not only alive but she’s thriving. She’s about to go back on tour and show everybody’s how it’s been done. She’s had an amazing career thus far but I think she’s one of those people who’s done a lot but still has a lot more to say and do.”

Rated R&B revisited janet on its 25th anniversary and crafted a list of our top 5 songs.

1. “Any time, Any place”

Driven by a burning saxophone and deliberate finger snaps, the sensual song is fueled by lyrics of voyeurism, making it arguably the best record on this album.

2. “That’s the Way Love Goes”

Blended with hip-hop’s edge and Jackson’s flourishing sureness on intimacy and the powers of her own body, she takes us (and her love interest) to a places we’ve never been; and the trip isn’t bad either.

3. “Throb”

Bring your stamina. Over an oversexed-house beat, Jackson commands her mate to “boom, boom, boom until noon, noon, noon.”

4. “Funky Big Band”

Sampling “I’m in the Mood for Swing” by jazz giant Lionel Hampton, Jackson’s vocal improvisations are welcomed on this lively track.

5. “This Time”

“You’re dismissed,” says Janet after finally breaking it off with her ex. Now although she’s done with her lover’s drama, the song’s featured opera vocals from Kathleen Battle and accompanying production is packed with it.

Stream janet. below.

What’s your favorite track from janet? Tell us below.

15 Times Missy Elliott Brought ‘FIYAH’ To R&B Music

Let’s be clear, Missy Elliott is and will always be universally relevant in the world of music.

Misdemeanor Elliott has been an unstoppable force since establishing herself as a trailblazer for R&B and hip-hop music and its culture in the early 90s. Some people, such as myself, may say they first heard Elliott and her iconic “hee-hee-hee-hee-how” line on Gina Thompson’s hit “The Things I Do.” Others may remember Elliott’s artistic expression in a large black trash bag from her 1997 video “The Rain.”

What remains consistent with those possible introductions to Ms. Elliott is R&B has been the meeting place. For instance, the chorus on “The Rain” samples “I Can’t Stand the Rain” by ‘70s soul diva Ann Peebles. Missy Elliott not only lent her rap talents to the remix of Thompson’s lead single – she co-penned the track too, which is one of the reasons why we’re here.

For the past few months, Elliott has been on Twitter sharing memories of writing and producing R&B songs for past and present artists. Rated R&B has compiled a list of Elliott’s top 15 R&B hits that she either produced, wrote or was featured on, along with a reason why they are absolute FIYAH (as Elliott would say).

Aaliyah – “One in a Million”

Written by: Melissa “Missy” Elliott & Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley
Produced by: Timbaland

“One in a Million” is FIYAH because it helped shift the direction of R&B and way we heard it with its advanced melting pot of melody and rhythmic. From Kanye West and BJ the Chicago Kid to Jay Z and Tink, the cultural impact of this record is undeniable. The song spent six weeks at No.1 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart.

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A Decade Later: 5 Love Lessons From Usher’s ‘Here I Stand’ Album

“A lot of what I plan to offer with this album is kinda standing in this spot. … The king’s back. I ain’t gonna say ‘back,’ I never left,” proclaimed Usher in an MTV interview in 2007. Six months after making this bold statement, the R&B crooner released Here I Stand, his first album since 2004’s multi-platinum Confessions.

A lot happened in Usher’s personal life since his Confessions era. From ending his relationship with singer Chili and parting ways with his mother as manager to losing his father and becoming a father and husband, Usher wanted his life experiences to reflect in the records on Here I Stand.

Although he recorded some of Here I Stand before the birth of his first son and his marriage to then-wife Tameka Foster, his new music direction was already in the works. “It was a deliberate choice to make music with substance, not just about the things that we’re accustomed to—music about being the celebrity, the player, or having the car, the girl and the bling,” he told ESSENCE in 2008.

Led by Polow da Don-produced single “Love in the Club” featuring Jeezy, Usher’s fifth LP was released on May 13, 2008. It spawned four other moderately successful singles (“Love in the Club Part. II,” “Moving Mountains,” “Trading Places” and title track) and eventually became certified platinum by the RIAA.

To celebrate its 10th anniversary, here are five love lessons from Here I Stand.

“Trading Places”

Lesson 1: Roleplay is healthy.

Sometimes we get comfortable sticking to societal norms (i.e. a man pays for movie and dinner, women cooks and clean). But who said we have to follow those exhausting rules? Whatever keeps your relationship thriving, do it.

“His Mistakes”

Lesson 2: The past is the past for a reason.

Give your ex’s successor a chance to make their spot in your heart their own. While your former love may have treated you wrong, that baggage shouldn’t be carried into your next relationship. Share those hurtful moments to your next mate the beginning, and just give them an opportunity to prove himself until they show you otherwise.

“Love You Gently”

Lesson 3: Slow down baby, the loving ain’t going nowhere.

There’s nothing wrong with a quicky every now and then but it can’t be the norm in the bedroom. You can’t just get yours and forget about them. Your significant other deserves a pleasurable loving making experience, too.

“Moving Mountains”

Lesson 4: If you’re not happy, just leave.

Unless your lover practices sorcery, they probably can’t read your mind. Walking around with an attitude and being distance won’t rebuild a broken relationship. If they can’t get through to you, how can a bond be mended? Here’s some advice: talk up. You can either love them or leave them alone. It’s that simple.

“Something Special”

Lesson 5: Show love any time, any place.

If you love your mate, then let them (and the world) know it’s real. Not to say you put your relationship on display all the time. But there’s nothing wrong with cute little reminders, especially if it’s a solid connection.

Revisit Here I Stand in its entirety below.

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