“Freedom” by Beyoncé (ft. Kendrick Lamar)
This is a song based on the peculiar struggles and unique strengths of African-American women. In other words, it has a female-empowerment theme that is particularly catered to African-Americans.
Conversely, Kendrick Lamar’s verse is initially centered on challenges Black men in America face, such as racial profiling and the prospect of being murdered. However, he later gives a shoutout to his “mama”, which could be his mother or also his girlfriend. And he is basically telling her that whatever may happen to him, she should remain strong and optimistic.
As the title implies, the main purpose of this track is to serve as Beyoncé’s call for “freedom”. Apparently her desire is for the intended audience to actively seek out the titular state while, as Kendrick Lamar alludes to, simultaneously believing in themselves.
Facts about “Freedom”
“Freedom” was formally released on 23 April 2016.
Prior to the release of this track, its instrumental was featured on a commercial for Beyoncé’s The Formation World Tour which aired after the halftime show for Super Bowl 50 on 7 February 2016.
This track marked the first collaboration between Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar.
“Freedom” is the tenth song of the playlist of Beyoncé’s 2016 album, Lemonade.
It was produced by Just Blaze in addition to Beyoncé and Jonny Coffer.
Johnny Coffer and Beyoncé also contributed to the writing of “Freedom” alongside Kendrick Lamar and five other songwriters. They are: John Lomax Sr., Alan Lomax, Frank Tirado, Dean McIntosh and Carla Marie.
It is theorized that Beyoncé’s use of Just Blaze, a longtime collaborator of her husband Jay-Z, to produce this track is symbolic of her forgiving Jigga of the infidelity the first half of Lemonade is supposedly based on.
“Freedom” concludes with a couple of sentences spoken by Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother, which were actually recorded during her 90th birthday celebration. In fact it is from these words that Beyoncé derived the title of the album (“Lemonade”) from.
Professional musicians who have covered this track include Noah Guthrie, Boyce George Smith and Rag ‘N’ Bone Man.
Among the audios sampled in this song is an old African-American spiritual song entitled “Stewball”, which was recorded at the Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1947.
It also features a sample of the song “Let Me Try” by the relatively-obscure Kaleidoscope, a Puerto Rican psychedelic-rock band from the 1960s.
Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar staged a live performance of “Freedom” to open the 2016 BET Awards.
How did “Freedom” perform on the charts?
“Freedom” peaked at number-35 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-40 on the UK Singles chart. The song also charted in numerous countries. They include: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Norway, Scotland, Spain and Sweden.
Music Video of “Freedom”
The music video of “Freedom” features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner. The aforementioned names were all African-American males that were killed by law enforcement.