Beyoncé has released her highly anticipated seventh studio album, Renaissance.
The 40-year-old is the pop superstar’s first offering in six years, following the critically acclaimed Lemonade in 2016.
The massive 16-track album spans genres including driving disco, Afrobeats and house effect.
Renaissance is prefixed as Act 1, and Beyoncé later confirmed that it was part of a trilogy that was recorded during the pandemic.
The singer posted a lengthy statement on her website after the release, echoing an earlier statement on her Instagram page and thanking her family for their support and inspiration.
“This three act project was recorded over three years during the pandemic. Time to be calm, but also what took me the most creative time,” the statement read.
“Making this album gave me a place to dream and escape to the world during a scary time. It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when something else was going on.
“My intention was to create a safe space, a place without judgment. A place to be free from perfectionism and overthinking.
“A place to shout, drop, feel free. It was a beautiful journey of exploration.”
She continued: “I want to give a special thanks to Rumi, Sir and Blue for giving me this space, creativity and inspiration.
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And a special thanks to my beautiful husband and muse who put me down during those late nights in the studio
“Thank you to all the pioneers who created the culture, to all the fallen angels whose contributions have not been recognized for too long.
“It’s a celebration for you.
“Mama, I luhhh u. To my father… my first teacher you inspire me in every step that I do. I love you.”
She continued: “To all my fans: I hope this inspires you to release Wiggle. Ha! And to feel unique, strong and sexy just like you.”
The official release came less than 36 hours after the album was reportedly leaked online, prompting fans’ outrage.
Members of the singer’s fan club – colloquially known as the Beehive – urged people not to share the link or listen to the record before Friday.
Beyoncé, who has scored three number one albums and five number one singles in the UK, had released only one single prior to release day – the house-music-influenced single Break My Soul.
Other tracks from the album include I’m That Girl, Cozy, Alien Superstar, Cuff It, Energy, Church Girl, Plastic Off the Sofa, Virgo’s Groove, Move, Heated, Thick, All Up in Your Mind, America Has a Problem, Pure/ Honey, and the summer renaissance.
The new music comes after the artist wiped out all of his social media accounts in June, fueling speculation that new music is on the way.
After confirming that the renaissance would arrive on July 29, Beyoncé was revealed to be the cover star of the July issue of British Vogue.
She later shared a fascinating artwork which showed her riding a shiny horse with only silver jewelery wrapped around it.
Organized by record label, Sony Music Entertainment, the so-called Club Renaissance listening parties will take place around the world on Thursday.
Since the release of Lemonade in 2016, Beyoncé has remained busy, with her husband Jay-Z releasing a joint studio album, Everything Is Love, credited with The Carters, as well as The visual album Black Is King too.
She also made history last year when she became the most decorated female artist at the Grammy Awards.
It won four awards out of nine nominations, making it 28 in her career, surpassing the 27 issued by bluegrass-country singer Alison Krauss.
In January 2012, Beyoncé and Jay-Z had a daughter, Blue Ivy, and in June 2017 they gave birth to twins Rumi and Sir.