How Beyoncé & Jay-Z Went From "Crazy In Love" To "Apeshit"

Photo: James Gourley/PictureGroup/Shutterstock.
When I was ten, I would try to replicate Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" dancing alone in my bedroom. The video would play often on TV during music video countdowns, and was my first introduction to Beyoncé and Jay-Z as a unit. The status quo was set: Jay-Z rapped, Beyoncé sang and danced. Specifically, she danced around Jay-Z as he did his thing. Fifteen years later, I've long realised that I'm never going to be able to dance like that – and now, after the release of "Apeshit," Beyoncé has perhaps realised that she shouldn't have to.
There's a marked difference between the couple's very first iconic collaborative video and their most recent one. From the imagery to the lyrics to the choreography, "Apeshit" proves that Beyoncé has taken control of the narrative she first presented in "Crazy In Love" and transformed the relationship to be on her terms — which is to say, shared terms. We literally watch it happen.
Take, first and foremost, the very premise of "Crazy In Love," which is about being totally infatuated with her then-boyfriend, Jay-Z. "When you leave I'm begging you not to go," the lyrics read. "Call your name two or three times in a row." She has lost herself in love, falling into the now-outdated trope of a woman throwing herself at a man. The duo barely ever share the same video screen, because their two purposes are very separate: Jay-Z raps about his own accomplishments, and Beyoncé wows with her dancing. When they are both in frame, Jay-Z is the focus while the pop star dances by his side.
Which is what makes the first shot of the couple in "Apeshit" so powerful:
We are immediately presented with Beyoncé and Jay-Z as a united front — an appropriate choice, considering the last music video they appeared in together ("Sandcastles," off Bey's 2016 opus Lemonade) was about their reckoning with infidelity. At no point in the video does Beyoncé cede the floor to her husband. Even when he comes in with his solo rap verse, Beyoncé mouths the final line, and follows it up with a rap verse of her own.
This is a true collaboration. Beyoncé is back-up dancer to nobody.
"I can't believe we made it," she sings, acknowledging the fifteen years it took to get to this point.
While "Crazy In Love" was about falling in love, "Apeshit" proves the happy ending comes long after. It's not about one person, but what two people can do together. Their shared success is the point of the song, and like the art the surrounds them, their partnership endures.

More from Music

R29 Original Series