Why Beyoncé's "New" Song 'Before I Let Go' Sounds So Familiar

It's actually a spin on an old classic.

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Earlier today, Beyoncé stealthily released her seventh album and wreaked havoc on the internet. Almost all 40 tracks on Homecoming: The Live Album are classic favorites, from the underrated bop "Check On It" (one of Beyoncé's BEST songs, and I said what I said), to the scream-at-the-top-of-your-lungs power ballad "I Care." However, I had to pause when I got towards the end of the album. Is that...what I think it is? Yes—it absolutely is. The penultimate track on Homecoming, titled "Before I Let Go," is actually a remake of the iconic Frankie Beverly and Maze song.

Released in 1995, the original song has gone on to be one of the staple songs of every Black barbecue, wedding, and family reunion; it's one of the electric slide big three, right up there with Cameo's "Candy" and Gap Band's "Outstanding." (honorable mention: Luther Vandross's "Never Too Much"). The cult favorite is an essential and recognizable part of the Black American zeitgeist, and it's kind of a big deal.

Why does it matter? Well, Beyoncé is making a huge statement by including a cover of "Before I Let Go" in her seventh album. Despite knowing that many of her listeners would hear the song and not think twice about its origins, Beyoncé added "Before I Let Go" because she knew that a significant number of us would immediately recognize it. Beychella and Homecoming are a heartfelt salute to the Black experience, as evidenced by the performance's utilization of the classic sounds of HBCU marching bands and the smooth moves of majorettes. Horns, step routines, the swag surf—in case you forgot, Beyoncé is Black with a capital B. "Before I Let Go" is another reminder of that fact.

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The remake of "Before I Let Go" emphasizes the for us, by us, we are family, we're all in this together vibe of Beychella. As if the original song wasn't Black enough already, Beyoncé's cover features the jig-inducing elements of New Orleans bounce music, a nod to her Louisiana roots. On top of that, the horns are literally blaring the melody of "Candy." This is prime electric slide music, y'all.

As the song closes, Beyoncé sets listeners up for what is sure to be the next line dance at your next family function, day party, or boozy brunch:

"Ooh (to the left), I just wanna have a good time (turn around)
Turn around, kick then slide
And twirl that ass to the right, now
Ooh, bunny hop, bunny hop, drop, pop
Cross your legs, turn around and clap
Shuffle to the left, let’s glide now
Ooh, drop it down, drop it down low, low
Low, low, low to the floor, floor
Bring it up, clap, then roll, roll
Step on em, step on em, step on em, step
Step on em, kick on em, stomp then you step
Swag the right, surf the left
Work the middle till it hurt a little"

Those are directions, people. Beyoncé is practically commanding us to get up and move. And when Beyoncé says "dance," you dance.

Homecoming: The Live Album is now available for streaming on every major platform.


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