An R&B classic turns 10 this week.
There was no question that Beyoncé’s solo career was going to be a success when it was announced she was embarking on her own endeavor. In fact, it was long awaited, since Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams had released their respective solo projects in 2002. What was unimaginable was how Beyoncé would become the worldwide musical superstar with a career that would span over a decade. On her debut single “Crazy In Love,” during the first few seconds the horns blare through with Jay-Z’s ad libs, and the first vocals you hear from Beyoncé are, “You ready?” No, we weren’t.
When “Crazy In Love” arrived in May 2003, Pop music was beginning to ween itself off the bubble-gum sonics the late ’90s brought its way, evidenced by the successes of acts like Justin Timberlake. Plus, was ready for the record that would define the beach, hot, light-clothing season.
Relying heavily on the Chi-Lite’s Are You My Woman (Tell Me So) sample “Crazy In Love” was, in essence, an R&B record. It was and always will be an R&B song that was a Pop chart shoe-in. It was never a crossover hit, further proving R&B’s worldwide appeal. The record stayed at #1 for eight weeks and later that year would be nominated for a Grammy in the Record of the Year category.
Aside from the record itself, the video, directed by Jake Nava, angled Beyoncé as a visual powerhouse; a performer like no other. Sporting a tank top, pumps, and short shorts (up until that point it had been years since a female pop artist could don such an outfit and maintain a mystical sexual prowess) Queen Bey shimmied and gyrated through that video in a respectably naughty manner. As much as it was out there for the world to see, it wasn’t for us. The “Uh-Oh” dance was the ultimate “look, but you can’t touch.
This debut single became an unofficial declaration of the low profile relationship between her and Jay-Z. In 2003, sure, the internet was around but it was a pre-TMZ world. At that time it was alluded that the would-be power couple was together, much less confirmed, and much less for the world to see. Even then Beyoncé was riding the juxtaposition of singing about being “crazy” in love, not caring about how you perceived it, yet doing so in powerful fashion. As phenomenal as the record is, it’s taken a decade to understand that it doesn’t stand on its own; it belonged to Beyoncé. There was no one on the planet that could have carried the record like she did. Just like the perfect marriage, there is no one without the other.
Whether it was calculated or not, “Grown Woman” leaked on the internet this week – the 10th anniversary “Crazy In Love” was released. The new record kicks off with crowd screams and a first verse that recalls a youth spent “talking back” and knowing what she needed, and once the pre-chorus ends she tells us, “When I do it, I don’t look back.” How appropriate.
Happy 10th Birthday, “Crazy In Love.”