calculation and control
how the carters have survived
When Beyoncé released her explosive visual album Lemonade two years ago, few could have predicted that she and Jay-z would weather the storm she had unleashed.
Throwing her wedding ring at the camera (‘If you try this shit again, you gon lose your wife’) and smashing up cars with a baseball bat, she finally lifted the lid on the cheating rumours that had come to plague their relationship. Overnight, Jay-z’s infidelity with the now infamous ‘Becky with the good hair’ became global knowledge. It was an astonishing and ground-breaking move, even by Beyoncé’s standards.
Yet cut to today, and the couple have made it through to the other side – and are seemingly happier than ever. This week marks their 10th wedding anniversary, ahead of the pair embarking on their second tour together. Last year, they also welcomed their twins, Sir and Rumi (now 15 months old) to much Instagram fanfare.
So how did they pull it off ? By all accounts, the secret of their survival has been the calculated efforts to control the narrative of their relationship. Instead of allowing gossip and rumour to dictate the public’s view, they worked together to portray their turbulent marriage on their own terms, through their music, videos, tours and carefully controlled interviews. They’ve given fans just enough to keep us transfixed, ensuring we always want more. Their relationship has become a brand – and we’re buying what they’re selling.
The turning point, according to an insider close to the couple, was of course
the Met Gala in 2014, when TMZ leaked surveillance footage of a physical altercation between Beyoncé’s sister, Solange Knowles, and Jay-z in a lift.
‘Beyoncé and Jay-z are an extremely private couple and would always choose to rise above any rumours written about their relationship,’ said the source. ‘But after lift gate, their marriage was in freefall. Shortly after the incident, Beyoncé took the decision that they would open up to the public through their art.’
And so, following a muted statement at the time calling the elevator scuffle an ‘unfortunate incident’, there came Lemonade. Then came Jay’s own response, the album 4:44, in which he referenced the cheating, and then a frank interview with The New York Times confirming that he’d been unfaithful.
At the time, Jay-z compared both his and Beyoncé’s time in the studio to a ‘therapy session’. But perhaps Solange put it better when she revealed last year that she had learned so much from her sister about ‘getting to be in control of your own narrative’.
The album was a bold move: Beyoncé is a woman who seldom discusses her personal life, and hasn’t given a face-toface interview in over four years. Certainly, the former Destiny’s Child star had never addressed any previous reports of wrongdoing on Jay’s part, which has plagued their relationship since they first began dating in 2002, when their megabrand had only just begun.
They include a claim in Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story, by celebrity biographer J Randy Taraborrelli, that the pair briefly split up in 2005 after it was rumoured that Jay had been having relations with his protégé, Rihanna. Taraborrelli claimed that while the story didn’t turn out to be true ( it had apparently been planted by a publicist trying to create a buzz around the Barbadian pop star), it still stirred up trouble for the pair, with issues of jealousy on Beyoncé’s part. She also remained mute when American rapper and model Liv claimed in 2013 that Jay had come on to her, and released a song about the alleged incident a year later, called Sorry Mrs Carter.
Despite their issues, the couple are undeniably stronger together. Last year, they were officially revealed to have a collective fortune of $1.16 billion. But it’s not only money keeping them together. ‘At the top of the list has to be their history together,’ says Taraborelli, ‘of encouraging each other, forgiving each other, making music together… the family they have created. All of it hard-earned. They’re not going to abandon it without giving it their all. They have been together for more than 15 years. They have shared history of ups and downs, and it’s made them stronger.’
But while the couple may have taken back control of their story, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all the cracks have been papered over.
According to a well-placed source, the couple have installed a life coach, who offers them marriage advice, at their multimillion-dollar LA mansion. And a source recently told Grazia that their marriage was still very much a ‘work in progress… People assume they’ve put their demons to bed, but they’ve had to rebuild trust from the ground up. They don’t want to undo all of that progress by Jay going on tour alone and falling into old patterns, so they made the joint decision to tour together.’
A second source added, ‘ There’s definitely still concern on Beyoncé’s part, and trust is still a very tricky issue between them. But putting their issues out in the open has really helped Beyoncé restore her pride, and now she’s ready to hold her head high alongside Jay on this tour.
‘She’ll always be keeping a close eye on him and make no mistake, there will be no second chance if this happens again. Beyoncé wants to keep this narrative moving forward, not backwards.
‘She won’t be prepared to tell the same story twice.’
Another 10 years? Let’s hope they’ll still be Crazy In Love…
their history of ups and downs have made them stronger
On tour in 2016. Right: Bey with twins Rumi and Sir