Music

Jon Batiste Hopes His Work on Beyoncé’s ‘Cowboy Carter’ Helps ‘Dismantle the Genre Machine’

Jon Batiste recently reflected on not only what it meant to work on Beyoncé‘s Cowboy Carter, but also how her country album is dismantling genre barriers.

The five-time Grammy winner co-wrote and produced the album opener, “AMERIICAN REQUIEM,” and he broke down the process by sharing a photo to his Instagram on Saturday (March 30) showing him and legendary producer No I.D. (real name Ernest Dion Wilson) in the studio, as well as their text exchange with Batiste writing out the chorus, pre-chorus and part of the first verse.

“This is the moment yall, where we dismantle the genre machine. I was happy to produce and write for AMERIICAN REQUIEM, along with Beyoncé and Dion. When I catch inspiration, the words and chords pour out of me. What an honor to then see how brilliantly Beyoncé made them her own and THEN further enhanced the lyrical statement, synthesizing it into the larger body of work,” he wrote. “After the harrowing vocal prelude that happens to start Cowboy Carter, you get to hear these words that read like a proclaimation. ‘Do you hear me or do you fear me?’ or better yet in our Louisiana vernacular ‘Looka dere, Looka dere.’”

He continued, saying that he and Dion embarked on a “creative journey” asking questions about “the state of music” today. “We’d been having these conversations for years but something about recent times has felt ripe with the power of actualization. When I picked up my guitar and notebook to write this song I put my trust in God to liberate my creative mind, as I always do when channeling inspiration.”

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But Batiste shared another conversation he had with a another legendary producer, Quincy Jones, that Jones even wrote as part of the foreword to Batiste’s 2021 album We Are, which won album of the year at the 2022 Grammy Awards. “‘It’s up to you to de categorize American music!!’ which is what Duke Ellington told him,” Batiste continued. “I really believe that is our generation’s role, led by a few artists willing to take this leap.”

He also praised Cowboy Carter as a “brilliant album, a work of such unimaginable impact and artistic firepower by a once in a generation artist. So glad that we finally got to collaborate with each other at this time,” Batiste wrote. “Producing and writing for AMERIICAN REQUIEM was an example of extraordinary alignment—when many leading artists see a similar vision at the same time, that’s when you know a major shift is happening. A new era, long time coming. Let’s liberate ourselves from genre and break the barriers that marginalize who we are and the art that we create. Grateful and impressed by my brother @dixson and the other collaborators who helped make this album opening statement possible.”

See Batiste’s full Instagram post below.

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