19 Pop Culture References In 'Everything Is Love' That You Totally Missed
Beyoncé and JAY-Z are always full of surprises, so naturally, they dominated the weekend by dropping their long-rumored collaborative album on Saturday, June 16. Everything Is Love delves into all aspects of their relationship —the good and bad — while also highlighting various illustrious figures of color. Beyoncé's now iconic album Lemonade was filled with pop culture references and nods to her heroes. This album continues that, with Everything Is Love featuring tons of pop culture references that open up the conversation about celebrating the accomplishments of black artists and celebrities.
JAY-Z and Beyoncé want fans to know that even though they're among the most prominent figures in music, the way people of color are treated —including those who are famous — is often oppressive. To highlight this, they reference Meek Mill's imprisonment and the consequences of Colin Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem. They also quote artists of color, showing how much their lyrics about experiences with discrimination and experiencing the world as a black person resonate.
There are so many pop culture references throughout the album that it's hard to keep track, but here are 19 references you might've missed during your first listen to Everything Is Love.
1"I'm a gorilla in the f*ckin' coop, finna pull up in the zoo.”
In "Apesh*t", JAY-Z quotes Chief Keef's song "Faneto," which appropriates the racial slur.
2"I'm like Chief Keef meet Rafiki, who been Lion King to you."
JAY-Z also gives a shout out to the Chicago rapper in "Apesh*t", while also likening himself to the wise Rafiki from The Lion King.
3"I said 'no' to the Superbowl, you need me, I don't need you."
In "Apesh*t," JAY-Z notes that he didn't want to be affiliated with the NFL after their treatment of former San Francisco 49er, Kaepernick, who kneeled during the national anthem. The rapper has noted his support for Kaepernick in the past, calling him an icon during an interview with CNN's Van Jones.
4"Ran through Liverpool like a f*ckin' Beatle."
JAY-Z likens his and Beyoncé's level of fame to that of Beatlemania in "Apesh*t."
5"Tell the Grammys f*ck that 0 for 8 shit."
This year, JAY-Z received eight Grammy nominations but lost all of them. The Grammys have long been criticized for their lack of recognition of the musical accomplishments of people of color.
6"I'm a Martian, they wishin' they equal (equal)."
JAY-Z also nods to fellow rapper Lil Wayne by quoting his song "Phone Home."
7"I got M's on the back like Evisu."
Beyoncé is a fashion icon, so naturally "Apesh*t" includes a nod to Evisu, a Japanese brand that has a trademark M-shaped pattern. She wore their clothes in the video for Destiny’s Child's "Lose My Breath."
8"Everybody's bosses 'til it's time to pay for the office. To them invoices, separate the men from the boys, over here."
He doesn't directly call out Drake, but it's implied he's referring to the rapper's recent feud with Pusha-T in "Apesh*t."
9"If I gave two f*cks - two f*cks about streaming numbers, Would have put Lemonade up on Spotify."
Even though Lemonade was released two years ago and forever changed our lives, the album is still not on Spotify. This has upset many fans who desperately want to listen to it on the streaming service. But Bey and Jay have made it clear in "Nice" that they're not planning to have it up on Spotify anytime soon.
10"We played it cool at the pool of the Cancun, VMA Confidence you exude make the fools stay away."
Beyoncé and JAY-Z initially kept details about the beginnings of their relationship tight-lipped, but on TIDAL's Rap Radar podcast, Jay-Z revealed that their relationship began all thanks to the MTV Spring Break Festival, where they were able to spend some time together. In "713," he reveals more details about how it all went down.
11"Y'all switchin' sides like NBA teams just after halftime."
This album features many sports references and in "Friends," JAY-Z appears to liken his friends' betrayal to NBA teams switching courts after the first half of the game.
12"When I say free the dogs, I free 'em That's how Meek got his freedom"
In "Friends," JAY-Z also references Roc Nation signee Meek Mill's imprisonment. Mill's imprisonment sparked outrage, with many fighting for his release and calling out the racial injustice behind it.
13"Louis slugger to your four-door."
Beyoncé references the bat she used in the video for "Hold Up" in "Heard About Us," which gives an update on the post-Lemonade status of her marriage.
14"Billie Jean in his prime."
This line from "Heard About Us" appears to reference the Michael Jackson song in "Billie Jean".
15"I'm good on any MLK Boulevard I'm good on any MLK Boulevard. See my vision with a TEC, bitch, I'm Malcolm X."
Beyoncé and Jay-Z have often referenced civil rights icons in their work and in "Black Effect" they pay homage to both Martin Luther King and Malcolm X.
16"Extra magazine hopped on a jet with my Ebony chick Blacker than the Essence fest."
Both Ebony and Essence are magazines that highlight celebrities of color.
17"Mobbin' in a hoodie like Melo."
JAY-Z is a big basketball fan and he references Carmelo Anthony's iconic hoodie in "Black Effect."
18"Hova, Beysus, watch the thrones."
JAY-Z includes a nod to his debut collaborative album with Kanye West, Watch The Thrones, in "Lovehappy"
19"Y'all know how I met her, we broke up and got back together"
Lyrics from various artists are used throughout the album, and in "Lovehappy", JAY-Z borrows from Common's verse in Erykah Badu's "Love of My Life."
If you didn't catch all of these, it's time to listen to the album again!