Pop stars don’t have to say anything. Do a song and a dance and we’ll throw cash at you and be happy.
Then again, Beyoncé is no normal pop star. And her surprise new song and video, “Formation?” Oh, does it say something.
A black power anthem for the masses released as Black History Month gets underway, “Formation” is as much powerful, gritty, and unapologetic a message as it is another entry in Beyoncé’s canon of dance floor calls-to-arms.

Dropped a day before Beyoncé was rumored to perform the track at the Super Bowl—and, blessedly, not released exclusively on Tidal—it’s the latest in the new model of music release: shock your fans into euphoria with the unannounced arrival of new music.

With Beyoncé, of course, it’s more like: stun them into ecclesiastical rapture.

“Formation” is a booming meditation on black identity, the validity and transience of a person’s roots and history, and the crushing interplay between power and helplessness, agency and victimization. Bask in it. Dance to it. Listen to it. But, for the love of god, hear it.