Yesterday was not Christmas, but Beyoncé Knowles-Carter did gift us with Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé on Netflix and its accompanying live album of the same name. Keeping the Beyhive fed until the release of the live-action Lion King movie, in which she will play Nala, the documentary showcases both weekends of Beychella and the eight-month preparation for the festival.
As the first African American woman to headline Coachella in its nineteen-year history, the singer used her stage and pyramid to create BΔK, her own version of a fraternity from an HBCU (Historically Black College and University), which she used to shed light on the rich history that has come with them. In this age of the instant—instant success, instant “canceling,” instant “glow up”—Knowles has become a spokesperson for the importance of a strong work ethic, dedication and rehearsal, fresh off of giving birth to twins Sir and Rumi. The singer had to cancel her performance the year before due to her difficult pregnancy and doctor’s orders.
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“No matter who you are, you get in here, and it’s real,” Beyoncé explains at an early dance rehearsal. “That’s why people don’t like rehearsal. You gotta be humble.”
Homecoming was directed, written and produced by Beyoncé, with her work ethic on center stage. It made you want to attend this university. After her classic “Crazy In Love,” Knowles goes into her rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” the national African American hymn. When fictional Greek pledges “The Bugaboos” failed to make Beyoncé laugh, I wanted to scream Have you found Farrah’s luggage yet?
Beyoncé displays Big Virgo Energy here with her meticulous eye: directing every light, choosing each dancer, and running the show back and forth. The performance celebrated the unique character and ability of each band member “There’s just so much damn swag” she proudly exclaims. You get to see her sit with Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, strategizing to make sure every detail of each costume is seen onstage.
The idea of a concert film is not ordinary, but neither is Beyoncé’s drive. In a production meeting, Beyoncé tells her staff “Until I see some of my notes applied, it doesn’t make sense for me to make more,” as the work she is doing onstage is not appearing on film. She then directly after goes to her anniversary dinner with her husband.
The theme of representation came full circle as dancer Dnay Baptise spoke about how proud she was that this experience was something she could share with her son to help him feel proud of his blackness. Seeing Blue Ivy have her own “Can I hold the mic?” moment shows the Beyhive might have some competition with the #IvyLeague.
The documentary features a few special guests: husband Jay Z, the Destiny’s Child reunion of our dreams, and Solange. Beyoncé herself wanted to go to an HBCU—her father attended Frisk—but for her, Destiny’s Child became her “School of Life.” Growing up, Knowles went to the battle of the bands of HBCUs, where the marching bands are celebrated on campus. From their inception, HBCUs have created the upper echelon for black students. Though they represent 3% of higher education, they make up 24% of black STEM graduates. Bey’s establishment of her fictional HBCU in Homecoming represents the different beautiful hues of blackness and black culture. And most importantly, the incredible two-hour stamina of Beyoncé.
Homecoming: A Film by Beyoncé is available to stream now on Netflix, you will be swag surfing from your couch. Her live album, Homecoming, also features bonus track “Before I Go,” a rendition of Maze’s classic that is a staple at the end of black family functions.