By Devon Mac
As I type these words I’m already tired of talking about Jay Z and Beyoncé so please forgive this post. But I was sitting here in the cloud of their media hype and most recently an article about how their joint album, Everything is Love, did not debut at number 1, and a few quandaries began to surface for me.
It baffles me a bit that The Carters are being this public about their love at this point in their careers/lives together. After all, prior to, they were notoriously private about their relationship to the point that they successfully pulled off their secret wedding ceremony back in 2008. At the time, they must have had a very good reason to be discreet about their relationship. Yet, a viral elevator fight, a cheating scandal, and consecutive diss and remorse tracks later, they are in our faces with the whole nine, a joint album, another tour, pics of them naked in bed, vowal renewals, Blue Ivy at concerts, and the holy grail of twins-sightings. …which is all “love” but am I the only one here who feels like they are doing the most? It’s similar to what I felt when Queen B first married the Hip Hop King. Between the Mrs. Carter Tour and the royalty-infused publicity shots for the album and tour, I felt like I was being hit over the head with their marriage. I guess this is what results when two of the biggest entertainers come together. This is not only personal but business for them. The Carters have flipped the script in a major way and have gone from being on the hush to turning their marital lives into a business brand.
Bey and Jay know how to get their paper and one can’t help but to respect that but I wonder if their joint album coming in at no. 2 says something about how we may prefer them as individual artists who keep their love life private?
Here’s the thing, I’m all for forgiveness and Black love on display. I think it’s lovely and necessary. Like Barack and Michelle, visible and evident Black love can revolutionize perceptions, change lives, bring nations together. But the difference between The Obamas and The Carters is authenticity and authenticity doesn’t usually involve hard branding. There is something organic about Michelle and Barack where I usually see strategic business planning with The Carters. In Making Obama, the well-crafted audio documentary about the political rise of Barack Obama, we are reminded that the marriage between the former First Lady and POTUS almost didn’t make it. The documentary also reminds us that Michelle and Barack were living and loving while Michelle was still living in her parent’s home and while Barack was driving his beater to Chicago’s Altgled Gardens (a city housing project).
The representation of marriage between The Obamas and The Carters is somewhat opposing. While the Carters have always displayed their love within the context of excess and upper class living, The Obama’s public and private love have been displayed within the context of humble beginnings and modesty both in their anonminity (before their rise) and now in their infamy. The struggles of both have been made public but nothing has ever seemed staged or contrived about The Obamas whereas with The Carters, they always seem to be mindful of the business, a business that seems to be just as important to them as their marriage. The love I witness with The Obamas transcends business and politics and evokes a time before the world knew their names…it is both understated and captivating even in their reign as powerful political figures. What I always appreciate about Michelle is the grounding force that she is. We could always rely on her for keeping it real. Michelle wasn’t going to smile for the cameras just because she knew they were present.
Don’t’ get me wrong, I can write a whole piece about The Carter’s album and its cultural value and significance related to race and class but it’s already been done. The video has its accolades without me adding one word to the mix, as do The Carters themselves. However, there is nothing original about a marriage overcoming infidelity, it has happened before by many of us married and single folk.
So, what am I saying? What I’m saying is that marriage is difficult and it is not summed up after one tragic moment. Marriage can include a series of tragic moments. Consequently, it strikes me as odd when I see the marketing for The Carters and the parade of “Everything is Love.” I am particularly confused when I hear Queen B singing, “I can’t believe we made it.” Well, have you, Bey?
Certainly, The Carters have overcome this obstacle. But please trust and believe that there will be more in the say 30, 40, 50 more years they have to live together in matrimony. You know who I’d like to hear singing, “I can’t believe we made it?” Ossie and Ruby Davis (if they were still living, God rest their souls). They were married for 57 years. Who else? The aforementioned, Obamas (25 years). We all can vouch that they have lived for better or for worse, for richer or poorer. Denzel and Pauletta Washington, 35 years, a Black couple surviving in Hollywood, Camille and Bill Cosby…now that one gives new meaning to “making it.”
If I sound jaded, perhaps I am. My marriage ended in divorce after putting in significant time and work. However, this one thing I know for sure. Overcoming does not stop after the first heartbreak. Overcoming is continuous in a marriage that lasts for life. Further, love does not need to boast on itself, it just is. I wish The Carters the best and in all sincerity hope they don’t end up swallowing their words but I think I prefer their love life in the private setting.
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