Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' has arrived. What we know, including the album leak, Kelis' sample

Elise Brisco
USA TODAY
  • Beyonce’s new album “Renaissance” drops July 29 and could be the first installment in a series.
  • The singer released sparkly album art with a message to listeners: “I hope you find joy in this music.”
  • The first single for the album, “Break My Soul,” is treating fans with a glistening dance anthem.

Beyoncé's new album "Renaissance" is finally here.

Hype for the new music began in early June after the star first started dropping hints about a new endeavor. Some of the earliest whisperings followed after the Grammy-winning artist removed all of her profile pictures from social media and people within her circle, including her mom Tina Knowles and makeup artist Sir John, began dropping seemingly-random adoration posts about her.

Finally, in the wee hours of June 16, Tidal, the music streaming service formerly owned by Beyoncé's husband Jay-Z, shared the official news: "Renaissance" would arrive July 29. 

Here are all the updates that led to the official release of Beyonce's seventh solo album, "Renaissance." 

Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' album:Unapologetic and raunchy as she beckons us to the dance floor

Beyonce bares quite a bit on her new album, "Renaissance." It's her first full-length release since 2016's "Lemonade."

Beyoncé thanks fans for not listening to leaked album

If the Beyhive is anything, it's loyal. 

"Renaissance" leaked two days early, with CDs appearing in stores overseas and a version of the full album appearing on social media Wednesday morning. 

Fans had mixed reactions to the yet-unconfirmed album being shared, with some people asking for a link, others urging fans to wait for the official release and others making memes.

'Sneak into the club earlyThank Y'all' More:Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' album leaks two days before scheduled release

When the official album was released Friday, Beyoncé thanked fans in a handwritten letter on Instagram for waiting "until the proper release time." 

"I can't thank y'all enough for your love and protection," she wrote. "I appreciate you for calling out anyone that was trying to sneak into the club early. It means the world to me." 

Kelis reacts to song sample on 'Renaissance': 'It's theft'

For singer-songwriter Kelis, imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery.

The singer responded to an Instagram post Wednesday that highlighted usage of her music  in the "Renaissance" track "Energy."

According to Genius, "Energy" uses a drum interpolation of Kelis' "Milkshake" and samples her song "Get Along With You." 

"I heard about this the same way everyone else did," Kelis commented. "Nothing is ever as it seems, some of the people in this business have no soul or integrity and they have everyone fooled."

"Thats a collab the world really needs," one comment read. Kelis responded, "it’s not a collab it’s theft."

In a pair of follow-up videos on Instagram, Kelis said her main issue was not with Beyoncé personally, but rather because she was not notified about the sample. She also said the interpolation of her song was a "direct hit" from past collaborators Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, who make up the production and songwriting duo The Neptunes.

Kelis performs on the Flog Stage during day 2 of Camp Flog Gnaw Carnival 2017 on Oct. 29, 2017.

"It has to do with the fact that, from one artist to another, you should have the decency and the common sense and the courtesy to call, reach out," Kelis said. "Even if you're going to do it anyway."

Kelis has previously opened up about being shortchanged professionally, telling The Guardian in 2020 that she made nothing from sales of her first two albums, both of which were produced by The Neptunes.

'We got shafted':Rob Halford isn't happy about Judas Priest's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame award

Maggie Rogers got a Harvard degree:Now, she's back with her most 'personal' lyrics yet

Beyoncé unveils 16-song 'Renaissance' track list

With a week to go until the release of “Renaissance,” Beyoncé teased the faithful by sharing a screenshot of the album’s track list in her Instagram Story on July 20.

Fans quickly set about analyzing the meaning of titles such as “America Has a Problem,” “Virgo's Groove,” “Plastic Off the Sofa” and “Thique.” 

The 16-song track list:

“I’m That Girl”

“Cozy”

“Alien Superstar”

“Cuff It”

“Energy”

“Break My Soul”

“Church Girl”

“Plastic Off the Sofa”

“Virgo’s Groove”

“Move”

“Heated”

“Thique”

“All Up in Your Mind”

“America Has a Problem”

“Pure/Honey”

“Summer Renaissance” 

Beyonce wants fans to hit the dance floor with her seventh album, "Renaissance," released July 29, 2022.

Beyoncé breaks record with 'Break My Soul'

Beyoncé's album hasn't come out yet, but it's already notched her another record.

Following the release of "Break My Soul," her first single from the album, the singer became the first woman ever to earn at least 10 top 10 hits as a soloist and 10 or more top 10s as a member of a group, according to Billboard.

Other artists who have achieved this milestone include Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, Billboard reports.

Beyoncé drops album art

The Houston-born singer posted album art for "Renaissance" on Instagram June 30, which showed the singer sitting on an illuminating glass-like horse wearing a barely-there sparkling ensemble. In the caption, she said creating the album allowed her to escape from "a scary time for the world."

"It allowed me to feel free and adventurous in a time when little else was moving. My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgment. A place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking. A place to scream, release, feel freedom. It was a beautiful journey of exploration," Beyoncé wrote. "I hope you find joy in this music. I hope it inspires you to release the wiggle. Ha! And to feel as unique, strong, and sexy as you are."

Beyoncé new album release date

The album is set for release July 29. And this could be the first in a series as it was also titled "Act I." On the Grammy-winning artist's official website, her new music has become the focal point of the homepage with options to pre-save the album and shop "Renaissance" merchandise. 

Beyoncé first teased the "Renaissance" title in an August interview with Harper's Bazaar, saying she'd been in the studio for a year and a half working on something new. 

"With all the isolation and injustice over the past year, I think we are all ready to escape, travel, love, and laugh again. I feel a renaissance emerging, and I want to be part of nurturing that escape in any way possible," she said. "Yes, the music is coming!" 

Beyoncé is coming:A look back on her most-recent interview with Harper's Bazaar

The first single 'Break My Soul'

On June 16, Queen Bey released “Break My Soul,” a glistening dance track that samples Big Freedia's "Explode" and nods to Robin S.'s 1993 hit, "Show Me Love."

"You won't break my soul," Beyoncé repeats throughout the song, while also calling for a reinvention.

"And I just quit my job/I'm gonna find a new drive," she sings and semi-rapping with attitude, "the queens in the front and the doms in the back/ain't takin' no flicks but the whole clique snapped."

She goes on: "Got motivation, I done found me a new foundation, yeah, and I’m taking my new salvation."

Beyoncé had updated the bios of her social media platforms that morning with a tease: "6. BREAK MY SOUL midnight ET." So fans may want to keep a close eye on her feeds for more surprises.

'Break My Soul':Beyoncé hits the dance floor with new song from upcoming 'Renaissance' album

Beyoncé covers British Vogue

Beyoncé discussed the upcoming album in a British Vogue interview that hit newsstands on June 21. The fashion outlet shared several photos from the cover story on June 16, including the songstress looking regal on a horse in a feathered headdress, a glam shot on a motorcycle and more.

British Vogue teased that "Renaissance" would be the singer's "most ambitious musical project to date." The album is also the result of Beyoncé overthinking every detail and decision as she spent time at home amid the pandemic, the outlet said.

The outlet alludes to the album being party-focused with "soaring vocals and fierce beats." British Vogue writes: "Her upcoming album is music that makes you rise, that turns your mind to cultures and subcultures, music that will unite so many on the dance floor and make them fall in love."

'The best I’ve felt in my life':Beyoncé reflects on 40th birthday in emotional letter to fans

Beyoncé's previous albums, projects

"Renaissance" will come off the back of the singer's visual album "Black is King," which was released July 2020 in correspondence with the soundtrack she made for 2019's "Lion King." Also in 2020, she joined Megan Thee Stallion for a remix of her hit song "Savage." 

The last time Beyoncé released a truly solo project was in 2016 with the surprise drop visual album "Lemonade," which spurred hits including "Hold up" and "Formation." In 2019, she released the album version of her headlining performance at 2018's Coachella and in 2018, she and Jay-Z teamed up as The Carters to release their "Everything is Love" album. 

Since "Black is King," the singer made Grammy history becoming the most-winning female artist, and the most-winning singer (male or female), in the 63-year history of the Grammy Awards. The 2021 award show solidified her spot after her trophy count rose to 28 wins, the new additions being her music video for "Brown Skin Girl" and a win for best rap performance with the "Savage" collaboration.

Contributing: Melissa Ruggieri, Naledi Ushe, Amy Haneline, Edward Segarra