Hot Poppin' Culture News From New York City

Beyonce Turns to Radical Activism in Her Music; Will It Wreck Her Career?

Beyonce poses with Jay Z, Sybrina Fulton and controversial activist Al Sharpton at a Trayvon Martin rally. (Photo: Al Sharpton/Instagram)

Beyonce poses with Jay Z, Sybrina Fulton and controversial activist Al Sharpton at a Trayvon Martin rally. (Photo: Al Sharpton/Instagram)

Beyonce is plunging into radical activism in her music on behalf of recent African-American victims of police shootings, finally answering critics who long complained that she wasn’t “black enough.” But will her newfound political crusade wreck her career?

Beyonce is reportedly filming a new music video that will draw attention to the Black Lives Matter campaign, according to several news reports.

Related: Is Beyoncé Dressed in Hindu Garb the Same as Wearing Blackface? (see!)

The parents of slain black teens Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Tamir Rice have also reportedly been lined up to make cameo appearances in the clip.

Beyonce and husband Jay Z have also been spotted at several “Black Lives Matter” rallies and vigils to protest police violence against African-Americans.

The singer caused an uproar when she performed during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show earlier this year.

Her act seemed innocuous at first, but many quickly got it. Her performance was a salute to black activism that included a tribute to the radical ’60s group The Black Panthers.

Related: Beyoncé vs. Rihanna Battle of Brands: One’s a Porsche, Other a Jeep–Study

The Panthers were a black nationalist group founded in 1966 in the wake of several incidents of police brutality in Oakland, Calif. It’s members believed in arming themselves to challenge police activities.

For a time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called the party “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.”

Related: Mike Huckabee Bizarre Rant: Jay Z Called a Pimp for ‘Exploiting’ Beyonce

But the Panthers were also known for social programs like health clinics and providing breakfasts for poor children.

During the halftime show, Beyonce’s dancers wore Black-Panther-inspired costumes. One dancer held up protest sign “Justice 4 Mario Woods” A backlash followed fomented by right-wing media, led by Fox News.

The singer released her similarly themed “Formation” video, the day before her halftime show. It was her first new single since her Beyoncé: Platinum Edition album was released in 2014. It signaled the shift in her music to more socio-political themes.

Related: Beyonce Makes MTV VMAs a Family Affair to Quell Split Rumors (watch!)

The video clip included scenes of police in riot gear and hurricane-ravaged New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

“Black Lives Matter” co-founder Alicia Garza called the video “black as hell.” But it could also be viewed as polarizing.

It’s been viewed more than 35 million times on YouTube, racking up impressive numbers. But its views are nowhere near Beyonce’s most popular videos, such as “Beyonce – Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” and “Crazy in Love.”

Related: Beyonce Family Feud: Sis Slaps, Kicks Jay-Z in Violent Attack (video!)

Her new album is expected to be released next month and she’ll hit the road on her Formation tour in Miami on April 27, according to her Web site.

Given recent events, it’s a question mark whether her activism will hurt sales and put a dent in her career.

At 34, the pop singer is starting to enter the twilight of her career as a performer. At this point, she may feel she has enough fame–and money– to focus on broader issues.

In any event, it will be interesting to see how far she goes in her new-found activism, or whether it’s just another passing celebrity fad.

Check out Beyonce’s “Formation” video below, let us know your thoughts and be sure to follow IM on Twitter for the latest music news.


Subscribe To TheImproper's Email Newsletters, Free!