In case you didn’t know, I have hood tendencies, so you shouldn’t be surprised by the fact that “Upgrade U” is by far my favorite Beyoncé video. The imagery used creates a picture of the Beyoncé I love. Not the poised, pure and “perfect” Beyoncé, but the urban, over-the-top and sexy Beyoncé. As the hip-hop nameplates, gaudy gold jewelry and flamboyant fashions meet the demure Beyoncé we are accustom to seeing, we see an urban-influenced, confident woman emerge. Someone who is content and fiercely independent, yet ready and willing to partner with the right man.
In addition to the video’s imagery, I also love the lyrics of the song. Initially, I was a bit thrown by Queen Bey claiming she “could do for you what Martin did for the people.” Seriously, comparing yourself to Martin Luther THE King is a huge feat, but after digesting the lyrics, I got it. She was speaking on partnership and the importance of everyone playing their role. While on the surface “Upgrade U” sounds like another braggadocious, designer name dropping, hip hop influenced track, it’s actually a declaration of self-worth to one’s partner.
I know who I am, I know I’m a prize, and if you’re smart, you’d recognize being with me will make you better. That’s really Beyoncé’s message to Jay-Z. And Jay-Z, not lacking in the self-esteem department himself, responds by saying, “You may be good, but being with me has its benefits as well.” And isn’t this what all relationships should be: two people merging their best selves together, and in the process, making each other even better people.
Over the past week, I’ve had at least three conversations with different people who all say Beyoncé and Jay-Z were good before marriage, but since they’ve been married, they have gotten even better. So it was refreshing to hear Beyoncé cosign on these thoughts as she sat down with Oprah Saturday night.
At the end of the day, a few relationship lessons can be learned from Beyoncé and Jay-Z:
1) Keep your relationship private. Don’t involve the public, don’t involve family and don’t involve friends. When you put boundaries around your relationship, people learn to respect your privacy. You don’t need everyone’s opinion, so don’t open the door for folks to share their opinions.
2) Friendship is so necessary. It should be the foundation of your relationship. I love when Beyoncé said, “Just to have someone that you just like is so important.” Sex can’t be the foundation of your relationship. Money can’t be the foundation of your relationship. Social status can’t be the foundation of your relationship. But friendship MUST be the foundation of your relationship.
3) You can be strong and independent yet love and adore your man. Let’s stop making loving your man the antithesis of an independent woman. It’s not. Women shouldn’t feel guilty about being able to hold things down on their own, yet choosing to conquer life with the man they love by their side. You can have both, ladies. Don’t let society tell you differently.
To hear everything Beyoncé had to say about Jay-Z, click here. And enjoy my favorite Beyoncé video below.