“When you’re famous, no one looks at you as a human anymore,” Beyoncé says in a short film released last month to commemorate the anniversary of her 2013 self-titled album. “You become the property of the public. There’s nothing real about it.” It’s always difficult for me to have too much sympathy for celebrity complaints about the price of fame, but there is a price, and she pays it more than most. Who else simultaneously represents motherhood, sex and feminism, on a scale where she performs at both the Super Bowl and the White House? Part of her appeal is hoping that deep down there’s a human who, like anyone, gets tired of having to be constantly “***Flawless.”
I like to think “7/11,” one of the two new bonus songs from the recent Beyoncé Platinum Edition, is where she gets to set aside all the extra layers of significance her music has taken on in recent years and just let loose with something bonkers for people to play at parties. The other new Platinum song, “Ring Off,” meditates on a serious subject that builds on Beyoncé’s larger family narrative: “Put your love on top,” she sings, at once calling back to 2011′s underrated 4 and commending her mother, Tina Knowles — back in the public eye after Solange Knowles’s wedding — for courageously dumping a cheating husband. But “7/11″ is all about sweat and booze, murky bass and percussive clatter. The video carries over this sense of casual playfulness, red Solo cups and all, though even in a sweatshirt or messy bedroom, Beyoncé can’t stop being Beyoncé: the setting is a luxurious hotel suite, with a magnificent balcony.
For a remix of “7/11,” then, it’s only fitting that Beyoncé turns to the man who has made the best Solo–cup-worthy electro-R&B in recent years, the producer DJ Mustard (including Tinashe’s “2 On” and Jeremih’s “Don’t Tell ‘Em,” just to name a couple from last year, plus the bulk of rapper YG’s My Krazy Life). “Fresher than you,” Queen Bey repeats on the original track, and the song sounds fresh again — you could say fresh to death — in DJ Mustard’s version, which dispenses with conventional song structure even further to dabble in EDM-like builds and a melodic hip-house breakdown. At a crowded party, in a club, at a show, if this comes on it’s difficult to imagine even Beyoncé successfully following her admonition, “Don’t you drop that alcohol.” Four years after DJ Mustard crafted Tyga’s “Rack City,” Beyoncé has gone ratchet.
Of course, that’s not to say she has stopped being Beyoncé. She can’t. The Yoncé persona is part of the Beyoncé persona; she needs to be relatable in order to be imperial. In a world where a prospective president candidate ridiculously chides the current White House occupants for their association with a particular pop singer, Beyoncé is making a political statement even when that statement is notionally just “now and then partying is fun.” I don’t want her to start making Andrew W.K. songs, or even too many Charli XCX songs, but “7/11 (DJ Mustard Remix)” is consummate as a rejection of dour puritanism in favor of exuberant humanism. So, it’s almost Friday night. Let me know where the party is, and if it’s not too ridiculous, I’ll bring the red Solo cups, just so long as this is playing loud enough to keep the Toby Keith song from getting stuck in our heads.