Will Beyoncé make it on her own? was never a question leading up to and following the release of her debut solo album, Dangerously In Love, in 2003. Going solo was always her, uh, destiny. “Crazy in Love” is one of the most outstanding debut solo songs ever, and arguably one of the aughts’ best in general. The ascent and deification of Beyoncé, however, is something no one could have really predicted.
10 years ago, Beyoncé was 25 and gearing up to release her second solo album. B’Day would be the unofficial indicator of Bey’s force, for the threat of sophomore slumps is very real. The lead single, “Déjà Vu,” featuring her then-boyfriend Jay Z, polarized fans; a petition was created to re-shoot the video because thousands thought her dancing was “erratic, confusing, and alarming at times,” while her styling was “unbelievable and ridiculous.” Regardless, the album sold 541,000 copies in its first week and has since pushed over 8 million. It debuted at number one on the Billboard 200—something all six of Beyoncé’s solo albums have accomplished—and by year’s end, it rounded out at number 38. The Recording Academy nominated it for five Grammys, one of which it would win (Best Contemporary R&B Album).
Still, though, critics were mixed. Though many praised Beyoncé for her “sheer force,” others questioned her ubiquity and considered her album to be “undercooked.” Man, if only they had the ability to see into the future. B’Day—which dropped 10 years ago today, on her 25th birthday—was the beginning of Beyoncé’s coronation. It marked a mature pivot in her career and artistry, and set the stage for her visual ambitions. (She did, after all, make a video for nearly every single song on the album. Sound familiar?) Now she, at the age of 35, has to announce to her audiences on tour that she is not, indeed, God. My what a decade of sheer drive and unfathomable talent can do. The following critics must be secretly reeling. How dare they doubt Queen B.