Earlier this month, Beyoncé dropped her surprise single “Formation” and fans are still reeling from it. The song is unapologetic, personal, and powerful — everything that we need an anthem to be. And while most of the immediate attention after the release went to the powerful social messages and imagery in the “Formation” video, the lyrics in Beyoncé's new song shouldn’t be overlooked. “Formation,” like many of Beyoncé’s recent hits, is a song for playing on a loop before a tough day, a major move, or really anytime you’re in danger of forgetting just how powerful you can be. And if you don’t believe me, try singing any of the below seven inspirational lyrics in Beyoncé’s “Formation” in front of a mirror. I guarantee, by the end of the list, you will be well prepared to slay everything you do.
Now, as any die-hard Beyoncé fan — otherwise known as a card-carrying member of the Beyhive — will attest, there are stages to truly appreciating one of Queen Bey’s singles. For those who haven’t yet moved through the first stage — naked appreciation of the combination of music and message — go ahead and watch the “Formation” video in its entirety. It’s so worth it.
While the video entranced us with its brilliant and bold pro-black statement, the song lyrics offer a different kind of anthem: one of personal empowerment and agency. From the opening where Beyoncé quickly shuts down some of the craziest internet theories about her stardom, the addictive hook/mantra, and her final thoughts on building and sustaining her empire, the lyrics are a laundry list of powerfully positive messages. Here are some of the best:
On Appreciating Her Black Features
I like my baby heir, with baby hair and afros. I like my Negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils.
Beyonce has no doubt heard the criticism about her daughter, Blue Ivy’s, “unruly” hair and the large nose and lips inherited from her husband, Jay-Z. And her response couldn’t be more perfect: This is who she is — and who I am — and I love it. That’s a powerful message for any mother of a child of color and one worth embracing, no matter who you are.
On Remembering Where You Came From
Earned all this money but they never take the country out me / I got a hot sauce in my bag, swag
This is the message of the whole song, really, but this one lyric says it all. Sometimes the best way to appreciate where you are is to remember where you’ve been.
On Staying Focused
I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it / I dream it, I work hard, I grind 'til I own it
I’ll admit that the jury is still out on what it means to “yellow-bone it.” Still, the idea of envisioning a goal and working single-mindedly towards its achievement is worthwhile.
On Repeating Positive Messages To Yourself
I go off, I go off / I go hard, I go hard / Get what's mine, take what's mine / I'm a star, I'm a star / 'Cause I slay
This is the one to repeat in the bathroom mirror at least once a day. Sometimes you just need to hear how badass you are.
On The Consequences Of Failure
Slay trick, or get eliminated
Falling short definitely has a price. This lyric is best on those days when only a firm kick in the butt will do.
On Sexual Empowerment
When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster / When he fuck me good I take his ass to Red Lobster
If he hit it right, I might take him on a flight on my chopper / Drop him off at the mall, let him buy some J's, let him shop up
Rather than telling what she does for her man sexually, Beyonce turned the tables and focused on what she can do for him (if he acts right). That’s empowering.
On Building An Empire
You just might be a black Bill Gates in the making, cause I slay / I just might be a black Bill Gates in the making
But it isn’t all about building up her partner. Here, Bey reminded us that the next Bill Gates might just be female.
That message alone should be anough to inspire women and girls everywhere.