REVIEW: Beyoncé shows she has no true competitor in ‘Homecoming’

Netflix documentary and concert film relives life-changing Coachella performance


Photo courtesy of Parkwood Entertainment / Netflix

Beyoncé in her most recent documentary release “Homecoming.” The documentary and concert film gives fans insight on her performance at Coachella in 2018.

Shiavon Chatman

I was 10 years old when I saw Destiny’s Child perform live in my hometown of Albany, New York. “Excited” didn’t fit the magnitude of the electricity running through my veins.

I knew every song. My rhythm-deficient body (sort of) knew the moves, and I was ready.

I wasn’t just a fan. I’ve loved Beyoncé since she was making guest appearances on Disney Channel in the ’90s. I tied my thick braids into a high side ponytail so my hair wouldn’t get in the way of me nailing the “Lose My Breath” choreography. It was single handedly the greatest day of my life.

Wednesday night was a close second.

Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter, the greatest living entertainer, released “Homecoming,” on Wednesday, a half documentary, half live concert film.

“Homecoming” centers around Beyoncé’s Coachella performance in 2018, colloquially known as “Bey-Chella.” Beyoncé was the first Black woman to headline Coachella.

The concert covered every Beyoncé era, including her 2016 visual album, “Lemonade,” that conquered self-love, Black feminism, cheating and Black oppression.

“Homecoming” also gives Beyoncé fans, new and old, a look into her arduous eight month long training and preparation for the performance.

Story continues below video.

Beyoncé was vulnerable, raw, honest and unapologetically Black. In the beginning of the documentary, you can hear Nina Simone, a legendary singer and civil rights activist that I listened to frequently during my childhood, speak about the importance of Black culture and Black ambition.

“To me, we are the most beautiful creatures in the whole world, Black people,” Simone’s voice can be heard saying during an interlude of “Homecoming.”

Beyoncé embraced her blackness and decorated the documentary with quotes from icons like Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and more. She sampled “Everybody Mad” by rapper OT Genasis at the end of her “Diva” performance.

The sampling of Black artists across the diaspora is a celebration of Black art. Beyoncé sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the “Black National Anthem,” with snippets of Malcolm X’s “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself” speech blared in between the lyrics.

This speech is one of the most beloved and controversial pieces in Black history. “The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman,” Malcom X said. “The most neglected person in America, is the Black woman.”

This was one of my favorite moments from the documentary. Seeing a collision of two of my childhood heroes, Malcolm X and Beyonce, on a historically white stage like Coachella, celebrating Black women, gave me chills.

In one of the events of the film, Beyoncé shared that she was 218 pounds when she had an emergency C-section because of one of her unborn twins didn’t have a steady heartbeat. She referred to it as a “very difficult pregnancy.”

“There were days that I thought I’d never be the same … what a lot of people didn’t see was the sacrifice,” Beyoncé said.

She would have to stop rehearsing to breastfeed. She gave up bread, alcohol, sugar, dairy, meat and fish. While her sacrifices gave her fans one of the most iconic concert performances of her career, she said she would never put her body through that again.

Story continues below tweet.

While her sacrifices made it possible for her to fit into her old costumes, she has no desire to be her old self.

“I’m not even trying to be who I was before,” Beyoncé said. “It’s so beautiful that children can do that to you.”

This part resonated with me so much because 2018 was a year of growth for me. I learned and evolved to the extent that I outgrew friends, outgrew old habits and even outgrew my old self.

But, while I’m learning and evolving, my mental and physical health comes first. Being able to realize Beyoncé pushed herself in an unhealthy way, made me want to recognize what unhealthy habits are in my everyday life that I don’t even realize.

Beyoncé wanted to highlight the importance of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). HBCUs were established before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because Black Americans were not typically accepted to predominantly white institutions.

Story continues below tweet.

While Beyoncé didn’t go to college because she was touring in the most important girl group of all time, Destiny’s Child, she knew they were spaces were Black people could flourish and not be marginalized. She embraced Black fraternities and sororities using their themes of Black unity and strength.

The second biggest star of “Homecoming” was 7-year-old Blue Ivy, Beyoncé’s first born daughter, who was first revealed to the world during a 2011 VMA’s performance. Blue did her own version of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in between rehearsal with her mother and in that moment, we all knew she was the next heir to the throne.

Beyoncé fans will be dissecting the documentary with new themes and theories for years to come, but Beyoncé’s message of unity and self-love has been constant throughout her entire 22-year career.

Growing up I didn’t have any female energy around me. Beyoncé changed that for me. Since I was a little girl I watched her meticulous attention to detail. She was the ideal perfectionist.

I love how she isn’t very accessible to her fans like most singers and celebrities but never fails to always make us feel like we are a part of every tour, whether we’re watching at home or within feet of her on stage.

A lot of fans’ least favorite Beyoncé era is one of my favorites, the “I Am Sasha Fierce” era (IASF). Much like Nicki Minaj’s “Roman Reloaded” album, the IASF era seemed to appeal to a different demographic, which is why a lot of her core fans put this era at the bottom of their ranking list. To me, IASF gave us a glimpse into how vulnerable and human Beyoncé really is.

Eight years later, Beyoncé showed vulnerability again with “Lemonade.”

Similar to the “Homecoming” documentary, she filmed the IASF tour for her fans to make them a part of the experience. I got the DVD-CD combo for Christmas and I watched it everyday for almost a year.

The way she gave direction was like guidance for me. The way she was able to dance flawlessly in six inch heels was confirmation that hard work does pay off. She was ethereal to me.

“I want every person that has ever been dismissed because of the way they look to feel like they were on that stage,” Beyoncé says during “Homecoming.”

The purpose of this performance was to inspire. She achieved so much more than that, further proving that her only true competition is herself.