(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEARD ABOUT US")
BEYONCE: (Singing) No need to ask you heard about us. No need to ask you heard about us. Already know you know about us.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Finally today, a surprise album release from pop music's royal couple, Beyonce and Jay-Z. But this one is a collaboration. It's actually their first collaborative album. It's titled "Everything Is Love," and here tell us more about it is NPR Music's hip-hop writer Rodney Carmichael.
Rodney, welcome. Thanks so much for joining us.
RODNEY CARMICHAEL, BYLINE: Hey, Michel. Thanks for having me.
MARTIN: And it's going to be a national holiday - right? - from now on - it's - their album is out.
CARMICHAEL: I mean, it's got to be. It's got to be.
MARTIN: So yeah, exactly. Here it is. Well, tell us about the timing. Did this catch everybody off guard?
CARMICHAEL: I think this caught the whole world off guard. I mean, this is - I'm really thinking Beyonce and Jay-Z are like the new disrupters. It seems like so many artists - so many really major pop stars in black music - have been releasing music this month. We're in the middle of this five-album run of albums executive produced by Kanye West, including his own. Nas dropped an album Friday, the day before this one came out, produced by Kanye. And Drake is supposed to release his new album, "Scorpion," at the end of the month. And all of a sudden, Jay-Z and Beyonce throw a monkey wrench in everybody's rollout plan. It's crazy.
MARTIN: So they released a video, right, too?
CARMICHAEL: They released a video shot in the Louvre. I don't even know if I'm pronouncing that right because I've never been to Paris, but (laughter)...
MARTIN: All right, I think you got it right. Let's hear it. Let's play a little bit. This one is called - I don't know - can we say the title of this one?
CARMICHAEL: I don't think we can.
MARTIN: OK, well, it's - we'll - it's - just listen.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "Ape***")
BEYONCE: (Singing) Stack my money fast and go, fast like a Lambo. I be jumping off the stage.
MARTIN: OK so, Rodney, we've seen the two perform together many times. In fact, Beyonce's classic "Crazy In Love," which features Jay-Z, is actually 15 years old last month - won two Grammy's, you know, the whole thing. And they've toured together.
But this is their first album together. And I was wondering, first of all, was there buzz that this was coming? And why do you think this particular project? And why now?
CARMICHAEL: Well, I think there have definitely been rumors. You know, their last two solo albums - Beyonce's 2016 album, "Lemonade," and Jay-Z's 2017 album, "4:44," were both albums where they kind of really opened up a new level of vulnerability. They kind of went into their marriage and revealed, you know, that everything was not all peaches and cream in the marriage. Jay-Z, you know, acknowledged and apologized for his infidelity. And so I think smart money was on the fact that these two megastars were going to get together and do a make-up album. And that's what this is.
MARTIN: Well, the thing about both "Lemonade" and "4:44", though, is that they both worked both as personal statements but also as larger messages. And does this album do the same thing in your view?
CARMICHAEL: It does. It does. It's definitely about marital bliss, but there's a lot more going on here. It's a communal album. It's full of summertime vibes. But there's this depth to it. I mean, there's - it's about loyalty and legacy. It's about family and community. It's a celebration of black love, and as is always the case with them, there's a lot of black excellence being celebrated in there and just black culture in general.
MARTIN: All right, so, Rodney, what conclusion shall we draw from this album - that, you know, all is well with Mr. and Mrs. Carter?
CARMICHAEL: Well, it's funny because there's actually a line in there where Beyonce alludes to Jay-Z's affair. So yeah, it's not all that. But "LOVEHAPPY," which ends the album, is really this beautiful testament to forgiveness within a relationship and how the struggles in their marriage have really made their union stronger in a lot of ways. It's definitely a big album - a lot to dig into - and I think it's going to be the album of the summer.
MARTIN: That's NPR's Rodney Carmichael telling us about "Everything Is Love," the latest offering from Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Rodney, thanks so much for joining us. Happy Father's Day to your father.
CARMICHAEL: Thank you, Michel.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVEHAPPY")
BEYONCE: (Singing) You did some things to me. Boy, you do some things to me. But love is deeper than your pain. And I believe you can change. Baby, the ups and downs are worth it. Long way to go, but we'll work it. We're flawed, but we're still perfect for each other. Sometimes I thought we'd never seen the light. Went through hell with heaven on our side. This beach ain't always been no paradise...
MARTIN: For Sunday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Michel Martin. That's our program for today. On this Father's Day, we'd like to celebrate you, the fathers. We hope you had a great day. We'd also like to remember the fathers who are no longer with us. And we'd like to thank those who've stepped in as fathers for whatever reason. We love you. Thank you for listening, and we hope you had a great night.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LOVEHAPPY")
JAY-Z: (Rapping) No photoshop, just real life.
BEYONCE: (Singing) You did some things... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.