“Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé (ft. Jay-Z)
The presentation of “Crazy in Love”, audio wise, may have been revolutionary to the point that before being picked up by Beyoncé, other parties that co-producer Rich Harrison played it for weren’t at all impressed.
But as explained by Queen B, the sentiment the lyrics themselves are based on, most simply put, is the female vocalist falling in love for the first time. And readers who have actually been through such an experience would likely attest to the fact that when the arrow of Cupid hits its mark, then reason is more or less thrown out the window. And that’s what Beyoncé means by being “crazy in love”.
As revealed in the second verse, the vocalist’s friends may not be able to likewise perceive the value of her romantic interest. And the singer herself has become such that for instance she’s not even interested in dressing nice unless he’s around. And again, as presented she’s a newbie in the field of true love.
So even though Beyoncé may not be able to understand why the apple of her eye has had such a profound effect on her outlook, she is celebrating the feeling nonetheless. Or as put in the chorus, she is “looking so crazy right now”, even in the eyes of others. But again, such is a price the vocalist is more than willing to pay in the name of genuinely being in love.
Meanwhile, just about everyone knows that Beyoncé and Jay-Z were dating when this track was dropped and did in fact go on to officially start a family together. Beyoncé herself doesn’t take the lyrics there, and neither does Jigga really. However, he does commence his verse by implying that Young B, aka Beyoncé is down with his crew, where he perhaps never actually namedropped a romantic interest in rap before.
The rapper then goes on to reference the likes of fictional character Tony Soprano, NBAer Nick Van Exel and Beatles’ legend Ringo Starr, all pointing to his own success, of course. Indeed unlike the rest of the song, Jay-Z’s rap doesn’t actually have anything to do with romance. Indeed his passage is classic Jigga braggadocio from the era when Shawn Carter was at his peak in that regard.
The Conclusion of “Crazy in Love”
Despite that thematic discrepancy, this song, as far as the message being relayed, was arguably able to become such a major hit for two reasons. One is because by this point, Jay-Z had already established himself as the top rapper in the game, regardless of what he may be talking about.
And second, the world knew that the male and female vocalists of this track were in fact dating and getting increasingly serious in said relationship, as the song implies. In fact it is reasonable to postulate that one of the reasons Crazy in Love has gone on to be considered ‘the greatest song of the 21st century thus far’ is very much due to the fact that it was prophetic, if you will.
But prophetic in what way? We hear you ask! Prophetic in the sense that it helped to introduce the world to Beyoncé and Jay-Z as a pair that would go on to become one of greatest power couples in entertainment.
Facts about “Crazy in Love”
Being released on 18 May 2003, Crazy in Love was actually the second collaboration between Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The first was ’03 Bonnie & Clyde which, despite its namesake, actually came out in 2002. And to note, the vocalists didn’t officially marry until mid-2008.
According to Beyoncé, she was “19 when (she and Jigga) started dating”. So with the songstress being born in 1981, that means she and Jay-Z first hooked up circa the year 2000. So this particular song came out relatively early in their storied relationship.
This track is the lead single, courtesy of Columbia Records, of Dangerously in Love, i.e. Beyoncé’s first solo album. As you may already know, prior to venturing out on her own the songstress was a member of a very-successful girl group known as Destiny’s Child, who technically were extant from 1990 to 2006.
However, both Beyoncé and her most notable bandmate, Kelly Rowland, initiated solo careers in 2002. Moreover the other two original members of Destiny’s Child, LeToya Luckett and LaTavia Roberson, were unceremoniously sacked in 2000. So even though the group remained active for a few more years and even to this day reunite to perform here and there, in reality it had already felt like they disbanded by the time Crazy in Love came out.
Did Beyoncé write “Crazy in Love”?
Yes. The multi-faceted Beyoncé not only had a hand in writing this song but also co-produced it. The other musician who served both roles is Rich Harrison. And additional co-writers are the late Eugene Record and of course Jay-Z himself.
By this point in the game, Jay-Z had been professionally active for about 15 years. That is to say that the first single he ever participated on, as a feature of his hip-hop mentor The Jaz, was 1989’s Hawaiian Sophie. And with the rapper being born in late 1969, he would’ve been 33 years old when this track was dropped, compared to Beyoncé’s 21.
More about the Song’s Credits
The instrumental of this song (i.e. the horns) notably relies on a sample. And that would be of a track a group called The Chi-Lites dropped all the way back in 1970 entitled Are You My Woman? (Tell Me So). And to note that group was led by the aforementioned Eugene Record (1940-2005), who had been in the game long before either Jay-Z or Beyoncé were born. In other words, Record also wrote and produced Are You My Woman, which is why he is credited as an author of Crazy in Love.
As the story goes, it was actually Rich Harrison who for the most part put this instrumental together. For the most part he didn’t bother marketing it since, as noted earlier, the people he had played it for (i.e. his homeys) weren’t feeling it.
In other words, he knew it was a special beat that only select individuals, such as Beyoncé, could truly appreciate. And upon the Queen B actually approving of the track, she only gave Harrison a few hours to actually write the lyrics. And he was able to do so under inspiration of writing for one of the biggest names in the game, despite suffering from an associated hangover at the time.
Moreover, Jay-Z is famous for his ability to write lyrics on the fly. And accordingly it is said that he penned his own verse within approximately 10 minutes, with him doing so very early in the morning at that.
The music video to this track was directed by British filmographer Jake Nava. It went on to win a plethora of awards, most notably the following MTV VMAs in 2003:
- R&B Video
Also interesting to note is that one of the dancers in the music video is Carmit Bachar, a name some readers would recognize as a member of The Pussycat Dolls.
Some individuals – conspiracy theorists to be honest – have pointed to the music video of Crazy in Love as marking the first appearance of Beyoncé’s less-inhibited persona, “Sasha Fierce”. But this is something the vocalist has more or less confirmed herself.
Notable Live Performances
The first time the two vocalists performed this song live in unison was at the 2003 edition of the BET Awards, which was held on 24 June of said year. And to note, the aforementioned ’03 Bonnie and Clyde was nominated for an award at that very ceremony.
So it was the following year, in 2004, where Crazy in Love went on to win a BET Award for Best Collaboration. Additionally it won a couple of Grammys that year, specifically in the categories of Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best R&B Song.
Another notable live rendering of Crazy in Love occurred during the 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show, where Beyoncé utilized the tune to open her skit.
Breathtaking Success and Accomplishments
As implied, this song was a major hit. For instance it topped the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Hot 100. It was actually the only song to do so in 2003. This is in addition to replicating the feat on 4 other US Billboard charts, namely:
- Dance Club Songs
- Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs
- Mainstream Top 40
And concerning the United Kingdom, it reached number one while Dangerously in Love was also dominating the UK Albums Chart. This feat made Beyoncé only the third female musician in history (after Mariah Carey and Kylie Minogue) to lead both of these distinguished lists simultaneously.
Outside of Anglo-America, this track also topped the European Hot 100 and music charts in Ireland and Croatia. And overall it charted in nearly 30 countries. In doing so, it achieved multi-platinum status in the UK and Japan (the latter case though being the song’s ringtone).
Famous Coves of “Crazy in Love”
Of course a song of this magnitude has been covered by a bunch of artists from around the world including, perhaps most notably, Robin Thicke in 2012. And to note, Beyoncé herself released a solo, re-recorded version of Crazy in Love in 2015. This new version was featured on a movie that came out that same year entitled Fifty Shades of Grey.
More Interesting Facts
Interesting to note is that to date, Jay-Z has topped the Billboard Hot 100 four times, and in all of those cases it was in collaboration with female vocalists. Crazy in Love alongside Beyoncé was the second of those efforts. The first was Heartbreaker (1999) in conjunction with Mariah Carey. The other two are: Umbrella (2007) as a feature of Rihanna’s and Empire State of Mind (2009) featuring Alicia Keys.
Beyoncé boasts of a terse, albeit notable filmography as far as fictional acting is concerned. And whereas this song was not featured on any of her own movies, it did appear in flicks like the following:
- White Chicks (2004)
- The Great Gatsby (2013)
Furthermore, it notably appeared in a 2006 episode of The Office
Meanwhile as implied earlier, this is one of the earliest songs in Beyoncé’s solo discography, being only her second as lead artist. (The first was the 2002 track Work It Out from the Austin Powers in Goldmember soundtrack, with said film being one in which she co-starred.)
And this marked the first of six times to date that Knowles has managed to reach number 1 on the Hot 100. And for the record, the other five are:
- Baby Boy (2003) featuring Sean Paul
- Check on It (2005) featuring Slim Thug and Bun B
- 2006’s Irreplaceable
- 2008’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)
- a 2017 collaboration with Ed Sheeran entitled Perfect Duet.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé have maintained a work-related romance throughout the years, including dropping a joint album entitled Everything Is Love in 2018.