It started with a secret fling. Then they got serious despite demanding careers, eagerly started a family and survived a spat of infidelity. And now, apparently, they’re sound again. Or so we’re led to believe by their music.
Perhaps no celebrity couple have been more tight-mouthed to the press about their relationship and yet loose-lipped in their songs than Beyoncé and Jay-Z.
Why talk to the media about your personal life when you can sell a few million records singing about it instead? It’s a creative and commercial formula the superstar couple have followed over and over, and now they’re bringing it to the stage, too.
Bey and Jay’s marriage comes to the fore in Minneapolis this week as they make their first Minnesota appearance together Wednesday night at U.S. Bank Stadium, part of their much publicized On the Run II Tour.
It’s been only two years since 35,000 fans were mesmerized by her hi-fi concert at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, but to her die-hard legion that’s too long a wait. It’s been five years since he played to 9,000 hip-hop lovers at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, and to some of her die-hard fans another five or 10 years would be fine by them.
Described by USA Today as a “summer tour [that] makes couples therapy feel like karaoke night,” the 36-city trek has been positioned as proof the golden pop star and the mogul rapper are indeed happy together again after he did her wrong. Rumors of him cheating on her not only became hot gossip, but also became top lyrical fodder for their respective 2016-17 solo albums, “Lemonade” and “4:44” — the former a masterpiece, and the latter a better record than it was made out to be.
Of course, we had two other good (and friggin’ adorable!) clues the couple had patched things up: Their twin daughter and son, Rumi and Sir, joined big-sister Blue Ivy in the Carter household a little over a year ago.
Beyond the sacrament of the twins’ widely reported birth, though, we can only speculate on the state of their marriage based on their music. That’s as true as ever as Jay and Bey flaunt and taunt all the speculation around them on their new collaborative record, “Everything Is Love,” which they released in June under the moniker the Carters (his real name is Shawn Carter, while she changed hers to Beyoncé Knowles-Carter).
Largely a hip-hop album — Queen Bey is great at rapping, just like everything else — the new record and accompanying tour have been excitedly greeted as the latest chapter in the couple’s romantic saga. Here’s a recap of the prior chapters, which have been written into their songs for the past 15 years.
Crazy in Love
(Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, 2003)
Relationship status: The first throes of love.
Lyrics: “It’s the way that you know what I thought I knew/It’s the beat my heart skips when I’m with you/But I still don’t understand/Just how your love can do what no one else can.”
The megahit that launched her solo career off the “Dangerously in Love” album, it was recorded before their relationship was publicly confirmed and reflected some of the zaniness of keeping it under wraps. Rolling Stone recently ranked the tune at No. 1 on its “Best Songs of the 21st Century So Far” list.
Public Service Announcement
Relationship status: I don’t wanna brag, but ...
Lyrics: “Flier than a piece of paper bearing my name/Got the hottest chick in the game wearing my chain.”
His first semi-veiled reference to her was but a small interlude on his most widely lauded record, “The Black Album,” but it was a big enough moment for him to include the song as a surprise deep cut on the current tour.
(Pharrell featuring Jay-Z, 2006)
Relationship status: Convincing her parents.
Lyrics: “I introduce myself, hi miss thing/You’re 19? No, you’re lightning in a bottle/I give you a ring tomorrow.” Also: “Mama don’t think you should take someone so advanced in romance/You should just wait/Pappa don’t preach/HOV don’t bite/I’ma show you right.”
Though just a featured spot on Pharrell’s album “In My Mind,” it’s Jay-Z’s most overt early reference to their romance, which began when she was 19 and he was 30. So you can understand why Mr. and Mrs. Knowles maybe didn’t approve at first.
Relationship status: Then comes marriage.
Lyrics: “I found a way to let you win/But I never really had a doubt/Standing in the light of your halo/I got my angel now/It’s like I’ve been awakened/Every rule I had you break it/It’s the risk that I’m taking/I ain’t never gonna shut you out.”
One of her biggest (and best!) singles, it was recorded just a few months before the couple got married. It almost sounds like her wedding vows to him, a man whose angelic side she apparently found underneath the rough exterior.
Love on Top
Relationship status: Then comes baby in the baby carriage.
Lyrics: “Everybody ask me why I’m smiling out from ear to ear (they say love hurts)/But I know (it’s gonna take the real work)/Nothing’s perfect but it’s worth it/After fighting through my tears and finally you put me first.”
This song will be forever treasured by fans who saw Beyoncé perform it at the MTV Video Music Awards, where she announced to the world she was pregnant with Blue Ivy (now age 6). At the start, she said, “Tonight I want you to stand up on your feet. I want you to feel the love that’s growing inside of me.” At the end, she dropped her mic, opened up her jacket and began rubbing her belly. And then the internet imploded.
Drunk in Love
(Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, 2013)
Relationship status: Still sizzling.
Lyrics: “We woke up in the kitchen saying, ‘How the hell did this happen?’/Oh baby, drunk in love we be all night/Last thing I remember is our beautiful bodies grinding off in that club.”
The big hit from her eponymous 2013 album seemed to confirm they were not only still crazy in love, they were still having wild fun going out together even after becoming parents. (Shout out to the nannies of the world!)
Relationship status: Living the dream.
Lyrics: “House like the Louvre or the Tate Modern/Because I be going ape at the auction/Oh what a feeling/Aw [bleep] it I want a trillion/Sleeping every night next to Mona Lisa/The modern day version.”
This highlight from his “Magna Carta Holy Grail” album finds Mr. Carter bragging about all the prized art he’s apparently storing up back at the crib. Including his wife.
Relationship status: Oh, no, he didn’t.
Lyrics: “Looking at my watch, he shoulda been home/Today I regret the night I put that ring on/He always got them [bleeping] excuses/I pray to the Lord you reveal what his truth is.”
Widely scrutinized for its line about “Becky with the good hair” — thought to be a reference to Jay-Z’s mistress — it was one of many on her landmark “Lemonade” album to seemingly (and seethingly and unapologetically) address his infidelity. That it was such a brilliant album just reiterated how stupid he was.
Relationship status: Crawling back.
Lyrics: “If my children knew/I don’t even know what I would do/If they ain’t look at me the same/I would probably die with all the shame/‘You did what with who?’/What good is a ménage à trois when you have a soulmate?/‘You risked that for Blue?’ ”
Even in a career marked by blunt, biting lyrics, the rapper maybe never wrote more shocking lyrics than those for the title track of last year’s solo album, simply because they were so personal and confessional. He’s even been brave enough to include this one in the set lists for this tour.
(The Carters, 2018)
Relationship status: Still working things out but not giving up.
Lyrics: His: “Y’all know how I met her, we broke up and got back together/To get her back, I had to sweat her.” Hers: “You did some things to me/Boy, you do some things to me/But love is deeper than your pain and I believe you can change/Baby, the ups and downs are worth it/Long way to go, but we’ll work it/We’re flawed but we’re still perfect for each other.”
The closing track on the couple’s new album opened up on what’s what and left it at that. They’ve left it off the set list for this tour despite it being one of the most talked-about songs of the year.
Beyoncé & Jay-Z
With: DJ Khaled, Chloe x Halle.
When: 7:30 p.m. Wed.
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Mpls.
Tickets: $39-$1,993, ticketmaster.com.