Beyoncé is among the artists leading this year’s MTV VMA nominations. Though it’s been a over three months since the singer dropped the album that stunned the world—impacting everyone from Michelle Obama to us at Much HQ–people are still talking about it.
Bey is known for thriving on creative collaborations and in light of her recent VMA nominations, we decided to highlight a few people that are partially responsible for the huge success that is Beyoncé’s Lemonade.
Diana Gordon (aka Wynter Gordon) is a prolific songwriter who has collaborated with artists like Mary J. Blige, Alicia Keys and Travis Scott. One of her more successful business partnerships was with Beyhive leader Beyoncé Knowles-Carter in the making of Lemonde’s “Daddy Lessons,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and “Sorry.”
Most of Gordon‘s success can be recognized in the infamous line, “Becky with the good hair,” which she wrote. That’s right, ladies and gents, Beyoncé didn’t come up with that all by herself.
Though Gordon hasn’t publicly spoken about the true meaning behind the line everyone can’t stop referencing, an array of people have come to their own conclusions. For some, “Becky” is a specific person and for others the term “Becky” alludes to a coded language dating back all the way to the 1700s. The Becky conspiracy theories go on and on, but only Gordon can give the true explanation.
Trading in her songwriter title for “singer-songwriter,” Gordon recently released “The Legend Of,” the first song that she has ever shared under her given name.
Warsan Shire is a 27-year-old Somali-British poet whose words are featured in Lemonade. During the interludes between songs, Beyoncé reads parts from Shire’s poems “For Women Who Are Difficult To Love,” “The Unbearable Weight of Staying (the End of the Relationship)” and “Nail Technician as Palm Reader.”
Shire is known as a humble artist who uses her words to speak on black womanhood and African dispersion in a digital age. Following the debut of Lemonade, Shire did not promote or tease her work in any way, save for this tweet three days after the album release:
yosra i hope you’re proud of us.
‘LEMONADE’ the visual album (2016) https://t.co/fzpAehOmmo
— warsan shire (@warsan_shire) April 27, 2016
Providing a link to Lemonade, Shire dedicated the tweet to the late Yosra El-Essawy, Beyoncé’s official tour photographer and the friend responsible for connecting Queen Bey and the poet together.
Friends, colleagues and fans of Shire were surprised when the end credits of Beyoncé’s short film rolled and one of the first names they saw on-screen was Shire’s.
“It was a shock to me,” Jacob Sam-La Rose, Shire’s primary editor told the NY Times. “Warsan can be sneaky. I did not know what was going to happen, or have any idea how it happened.”
Turns out, the concept of “getting into formation” did not come from Beyoncé at all, but from Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee, who’s credited as a co-writer on the song “Formation.”
In an interview with The New Yorker, Mike WiLL Made-It, the producer behind the song, recalls the moment at Coachella when Lee came up with the central lyric, which goes “Okay, okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.”
“So we’re in the middle of the desert. And we’re just coming up—we just freestyle, you know?—and Swae Lee said, ‘Okay, ladies, now let’s get in formation.’ And we put it on the VoiceNote,” he said.
Mike WiLL Made-It, seeing the line as more than just a lyric, went on to tell Beyoncé about the Swae Lee recording session, who ended up loving the idea. “[It’s] like, ‘Ladies, let’s get in line, let’s not just fall for anything,’” he continued.
There you have it. Swae Lee, one half of the rap duo Rae Sremmurd is the male musician behind your favourite Beyoncé girl power anthem. Who would have thought?
Surprise, surprise! Vampire Weekend’s own Ezra Koenig is the man behind Beyoncé’s “Hold Up.” Back in 2011, the singer posted the following tweet in response to a lyric in the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s song, “Maps.”
hold up…they don’t love u like i love u
— Ezra Koenig (@arzE) October 21, 2011
Sound familiar? In 2014, Koenig initially decided to head into the studio with Diplo to create a new song with the lyric for Vampire Weekend. But as the song progressed, Koenig realized his song had more of a Beyoncé feel to it.
it’s not that complicated – but some ppl are confused so here’s the short version: pic.twitter.com/Ma7P4HEngP
— Ezra Koenig (@arzE) April 25, 2016
Fast forward to five years later and ladies are dressing up in yellow dresses, swinging around bats nicknamed Hot Sauce and singing along to the lyric that Koenig first drafted on Twitter.
songs become tweets, tweets become songs – it’s the way of the world
— Ezra Koenig (@arzE) April 25, 2016