Here’s How Renaissance Song “HEATED” Pays Tribute To Beyoncé’s Uncle Jonny

She also dedicated the album to him.

Beyoncé's 'Renaissance' is here with a sweet message to her Uncle Jonny. Photo via Getty Images
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Renaissance, Beyoncé’s new album, is finally here — the first installment of a “three-act project” crafted during the lockdown, she explained on her website. Beyoncé also took to her site to dedicate the highly anticipated album to a few special people — including her husband, kids, and a late family member.

“A big thank you to my Uncle Jonny,” Beyoncé wrote in her message, accompanied by an apparent throwback photo. “He was my godmother and the first person to expose me to a lot of the music and culture that serve as inspiration for this album. Thank you to all of the pioneers who originate culture, to all of the fallen angels whose contributions have gone unrecognized for far too long. This is a celebration for you.”

If the name sounds familiar to you, it might be because Beyoncé’s mentioned Uncle Jonny before. At the 2019 GLAAD Media Awards, the “Break My Soul” singer dedicated the Vanguard Award to Uncle Jonny — “the most fabulous gay man I’ve ever known and I ever knew,” she said. “Who helped raise me and my sister. He lived his truth. He was brave and unapologetic during a time when this country wasn’t as accepting. And witnessing his battle with HIV was one of the most painful experiences I’ve ever lived. I’m hopeful that his struggles serve to open pathways for other young people to live more freely.”

In addition to dedicating the album to Uncle Jonny, Beyoncé actually mentions him by name in the song “HEATED,” which was co-written by Drake. If you listen closely, you can hear Beyoncé say “Uncle Jonny made my dress” just after “See how you testing my patience.”

As it turns out, the quick lyrical nod is actually packed with meaning. Uncle Jonny is technically Tina Knowles Lawson’s nephew, Beyoncé’s mom revealed in a 2019 Instagram post — and he was known for his one-of-a-kind style and design skills. “Johnny had made Beyonce and Solange beautiful christmas dresses in green velvet and plaid,” Lawson wrote. “He decorated the windows and cooked dinner.”

Lawson was once asked if Jonny was her husband, she recalled — and the way she clarified the mistake might be why Beyoncé calls Jonny her godmother today. “My reply was no he’s my wife,” Lawson said. “Because he took care of our home and kept it in grand style. He made the most beautiful dresses for me and all of my friends. Did thier hair, took great care of my kids and he added so much joy and security in my life.”