Breaking Down Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter: Grammys, Critics and a Nod to Becky

Beyoncé's album Cowboy Carter is finally here and the singer doesn't hold back when it comes to stepping into her next act. See what she said to say about the Grammys, her family and more.

By Kisha Forde Mar 29, 2024 2:12 PMTags
Watch: Beyoncé Reveals ‘Cowboy Carter’ Tracklist

"This ain't a Country album. This is a 'Beyoncé' album."

Less than two weeks before the release of Cowboy Carter, which serves as the second act following its predecessor Renaissance, Beyoncé made it known that not only was the genre-bending project made over the course of more than five years, but it came after a moment in time where she explained she felt excluded.

(Fans have speculated that this refers to the backlash she faced after performing at the 2016 CMA Awards).

"It was born out of an experience that I had years ago where I did not feel welcomed," she wrote in a March 19 Instagram post revealing the cover art, "and it was very clear that I wasn't. But, because of that experience, I did a deeper dive into the history of Country music and studied our rich musical archive."

In fact, she teases diving into that rich archive in songs like "Ameriican Requiem." (Plant my bare feet on solid ground for years / They don't, don't know how hard I had to fight for this).

Beyoncé's Renaissance Tour Looks

But nonetheless as she previously explained, that experience proved to quite the stepping stone for something bigger—a body of work that even includes her and Jay-Z's daughter, Rumi, 6.

"The criticisms I faced when I first entered this genre," she wrote, "forced me to propel past the limitations that were put on me. act ii is a result of challenging myself, and taking my time to bend and blend genres together to create this body of work."

And from collaborations with fellow artists including Miley Cyrus and Willie Nelson—and a memorable appearance from Dolly Parton drawing parallels between Jolene and Becky with the good hairCowboy Carter has fans saddling up for a musical adventure.

Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy

"I hope that you can hear my heart and soul, and all the love and passion that I poured into every detail and every sound," the 32-time Grammy winner explained in her post. "I focused on this album as a continuation of RENAISSANCE…I hope this music is an experience, creating another journey where you can close your eyes, start from the beginning and never stop."

Read on to find out more about every standout mention from the album, including not winning Album of the Year at the Grammys to her take on entering the country world.

“Ameriican Requiem”

Within the first single on Cowboy Carter, Beyoncé lays it all out for her critics, seemingly referencing the backlash she faced after she performed at the CMA Awards in 2016. 

“They used to say I spoke, ‘Too country’ / And the rejection came, said I wasn't, 'Country 'nough,'” she sings, “Said I wouldn't saddle up, but / If that ain't country, tell me, what is? / Plant my bare feet on solid ground for years / They don't, don't know how hard I had to fight for this.” 

At the time, fans noted that the CMA Awards appeared to take down footage of her surprise performance alongside The Chicks. However, in a statement to E! News, the organization shared they took down a promotional clip instead.

“Dolly P” & “Jolene”

Not only did the Grammy winner take Dolly Parton’s hit “Jolene” and make it her own: “Jolene, I'm a woman too / Thе games you play are nothing new / So you don't want no hеat with me, Jolene,” but she also recruited the country star for an interlude that tipped its hat at another well-known character: Becky with the good hair. 

“Hey miss Honey B, it's Dolly P,” Dolly says, “You know that hussy with the good hair you sing about? / Reminded me of someone I knew back when / Except she has flamin' locks of auburn hair / Bless her heart / Just a hair of a different color but it hurts just the same.” 

Though Beyoncé made it clear that her take is more of a stern warning: “But you don't want this smoke, so shoot your shot with someone else (You heard me).”

“Sweet Honey Buckin”

On this track, the 32-time Grammy winner made note of one snub that stood out noticeably during the 2024 Grammys: Her not winning Album of the Year for Renaissance.

In fact, when her husband Jay-Z took the stage that night, he couldn’t help but call it out then and there—a moment that she doesn’t hesitate to highlight. 

“A-O-T-Y, I ain't win (Let's go) / I ain't stuntin' 'bout them,” she sings, “Take that s--t on the chin/ Come back and fuck up the pen (Yeah).” 


One of her more melodic singles, “Protector” opens up with none other her daughter Rumi asking about a lullaby.

The singer—who is also mom to Rumi’s twin brother Sir and their oldest sibling Blue Ivy—reflects on her role as a mom. “Born to be a protector, mm-hmm / Even though I know someday you're gonna shine on your own.”

“I will be your projector, mm, mm-hmm / An apricot picked right off a given tree,” she notes. “I gave watеr to the soil / And now it feeds me, yeah, yеah (Yeah) / And there you are, shaded underneath it all / I feel proud of who I am /Because you need me.”


Rounding out her 27-song album is “Amen,” which leads fans right back to the opening declaration of starting anew and making an experience all her own. 

“Say a prayer for what has been /We'll be the ones to purify our Fathers' sins,” she sings, “American Requiem / Them old ideas (Yeah) are buried here (Yeah).”

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