When Beyoncé conquered Coachella last year — in essence, rebranding the Indio, Calif., festival as Beychella — she came to school the predominantly white masses about black culture.
“Instead of me pulling out my flower crown, it was more important that I brought our culture to Coachella,” says Beyoncé in “Homecoming,” the new Netflix movie — and accompanying live album — that documents her two historic performances at the festival, which is currently between weekends. Of being the first African-American woman to headline Coachella, she quips, “Ain’t that ’bout a bitch?”
But Bey being Bey, she used the opportunity to stage a rousing revolution, transforming Coachella into a homecoming celebration in the HBCU (historically black college and university) tradition. You feel the spirit of Morehouse and Spelman and Howard University taking over the desert in waves of black girl — and boy — magic.
“I always dreamed of going to an HBCU,” says Beyoncé, who also dropped another surprise LP, “Homecoming: The Live Album,” to go along with the movie premiere early Wednesday. “My college was Destiny’s Child. My college was traveling around the world, and life was my teacher.”
Now the Twitterverse is buzzing like a Beyhive over the “only woman who could actually upstage the Mueller report drop.”
And “Homecoming” does not disappoint.
When Beyoncé goes from her powerfully, politically charged “Freedom” into “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” known as the “black national anthem,” her voice is not only piercing the California sky, it’s piercing the minds of some who might not have have ever heard the song by brothers James Weldon Johnson and John Rosamond Johnson. And it’s a moment that will fill African Americans who already know “Lift Every Voice and Sing” with so much black pride.
From the moment Queen Bey struts to the main stage with an army of dancers to open with “Crazy in Love,” her 2003 debut solo hit, she is representing the black experience. Beyoncé hones in on the HBCU theme with marching-band arrangements throughout the show, a drum line and some Balmain gear emblazoned with the letters of her own sorority, Beta Delta Kappa.
Some of the most thrilling dancing — on bangers such as “Sorry” and “7/11” — comes straight from the stepping school of black fraternities and sororities. On the dance jam “Get Me Bodied,” you can feel the communal power of over 200 people moving in unison on a stage filled with rafters shaped into a pyramid. Behind-the-scenes footage also shows you all the work that goes into making such “wow” moments.
In the best of the cameos — which include Beyoncé’s husband Jay-Z and a reunited Destiny’s Child — Solange joins B onstage for a sister-to-sister dance-off during “Get Me Bodied.” When they collapse into giggles at the end, you can feel all the love.
The “Love on Top” finale is “dedicated to my incredible Beyhive,” as an a cappella Beyoncé gives way to a joyous singalong. She came, she conquered, she schooled.
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