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Dangerously in Love is Beyonce's debut studio solo album that was released on June 23, 2003 by Columbia Records and Music World.

TracklistingEdit

  1. Crazy In Love (featuring Jay-Z) 3:56
  2. Naughty Girl 3:29
  3. Baby Boy (featuring Sean Paul) 4:05
  4. Hip Hop Star (featuring Big Boi and Sleepy Brown) 3:43
  5. Be With You 4:20
  6. Me, Myself And I 5:01
  7. Yes 4:19
  8. Signs (featuring Missy Elliott) 4:59
  9. Speechless 6:01
  10. That's How You Like It (featuring Jay-Z) 3:39
  11. The Closer I Get To You (with Luther Vandross) 4:58
  12. Dangerously In Love 4:53
  13. Beyoncé Interlude 0:16
  14. Gift From Virgo 2:46
  15. Daddy 5:00

Album BackgroundEdit

Beyoncé launched her career as lead singer to R&B group Destiny's Child in the late 1990s. According to Corey Moss of MTV News, "fans are eager to see" how Beyoncé (after years with the group) performs solo.

While recording their third album, "Survivor", in late 2000, Beyoncé announced the group would be put on hiatus in order for the members to produce solo albums in the coming years, which they hoped would boost interest in Destiny's Child; the idea of individual releases emanated from the group's manager and Beyoncé's father, Mathew Knowles.

With different types of music for each member to produce, the albums were not intended to compete on the charts.

Destiny's Child's management strategically planned to stagger the release of each group member's album to maximise sales.

Michelle Williams was the first to release a debut solo album, "Heart to Yours" in April 2002.

Meanwhile, Beyoncé debuted on the big screen, starring in the comedy film "Austin Powers in Goldmember" and recorded her debut single, "Work It Out", which is featured on the soundtrack to the film.

Kelly Rowland collaborated with American rapper Nelly on the song "Dilemma" as a featured artist; it became a hit that year, leading the label to advance the release date of her debut solo album, Simply Deep, in late 2002.

Beyoncé also starred in the film "The Fighting Temptations" and recorded another solo single.

In August of 2002, she collaborated with boyfriend Jay-Z as featured vocalist on the song "'03 Bonnie & Clyde". The single earned Beyoncé credibility and paved the way for the release of her debut album.

RecordingEdit

Before Beyoncé began recording for "Dangerously in Love", she selected the producers with whom she would collaborate. For two days, she held meetings with prospective producers from the West Coast across the East Coast, and had interviews with them.

Beyoncé went to Miami, Florida to begin sessions with Canadian record producer Scott Storch, her first collaborator and lived in a Miami hotel in the following months. As she wanted to concentrate on the album, Beyoncé took her time to avoid pressure build-up, significantly different from the hasty productions of Destiny's Child.

As she did on "Survivor", Beyoncé took a wider role in the production of "Dangerously in Love", co-writing a majority of the songs, choosing which ones to produce and sharing ideas on the mixing and mastering of tracks.

Although Beyoncé did not create beats, she came up with melodies and ideas she shared with the producers. With 43 songs completed (15 of which made it to the album), Beyoncé is credited as co-writer and co-producer as well as the album's executive producer alongside Matthew Knowles.

Beyoncé felt that recording an album without her group mates was "liberating and therapeutic", coming into the studio and freely expressing her ideas with her collaborators. However, the dependency that she developed with Destiny's Child, meant that it was harder "to be on [her] own creatively."

As she wanted to grow as an artist Beyoncé contacted other artists with a view to forming a collaborative partnership. When the collective finished writing several songs, she printed copies of each and sent them to prospective guest artists. She talked to them by phone for possible collaboration, eventually gaining their approval.

Besides Jay-Z, Beyoncé was able to work with Jamaican artist Sean Paul, rapper Missy Elliott, among others.

In contrast, some artists sent copies of songs to Beyoncé, which were eventually produced. Additionally, she also worked with Timbaland and Missy Elliott on a track titled "Wrapped Around Me" for the album; however, for reasons unknown, the song failed to appear on the album.

"Dangerously in Love" was originally a song of the same title which Beyoncé had written for "Survivor", but it was deemed too sophisticated compared to the other songs on the album and the group decided not to release it as a single off the album.

After recording several tracks for "Dangerously in Love", Beyoncé decided to add "Dangerously in Love" after realizing that it fit the overriding theme of the album.

Since the album's release date was postponed to capitalize on the success of "Dilemma", Beyoncé had been offered the chance to further enhance the album.

Although Beyonce was disappointed with the move, she realized that "everything happens for a reason," agreeing to return to the recording studio to work with other songwriters; this allowed her to record more songs, including the album's lead single, "Crazy in Love".

In late 2002, Beyoncé paused working on "Dangerously in Love" for a holiday tour with Destiny's Child. With a few weeks left for recording in March 2003, Beyoncé was still collaborating with other guests on the album, including Sean Paul and P. Diddy.

CompositionEdit

Beyoncé's mother-manager Tina Knowles said that "Dangerously in Love" showcases her musical roots.

While Williams and Rowland were on gospel and alternative pop, respectively, Beyoncé focused on recording R&B songs.

The songs in the album are varied: from mid-tempo and club-oriented tracks in the first half, and ballads in the second half.

Beyoncé commented: "My album is a good balance of ... ballads and ... mid-tempos with just ridin'-in-your-car feels, to a lot of ... up-tempo club songs, to really sexy songs, to songs that make you feel emotional. It's a nice mixture of different types of tracks."

Although the album contains high-energy songs like "Crazy in Love" and "Naughty Girl", the album's focal mode, however, is slow and moody. Beyoncé said that she had written lots of ballads for the album.

According to Beyoncé, she wanted to be understood as an artist and showcase her range, and by doing so, she blended various genres and musical influences in the album. The album incorporates R&B, hip hop, soul and reggae influences.

The album took hip hop influences from Jay-Z, Outkast, and Lil' Kim; the reggae is from Sean Paul; and courtesy of Storch, the album explores Arabic music. His personal study of that kind of music gave the album a Middle Eastern vibe. Beyoncé and the producers also used a wide array of instrumentations.

When "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" was released as a single in late 2002, critics and the public had speculated that Beyoncé and Jay-Z were having a mutual affair. Despite widespread rumors, they remained silent about their relationship.

According to critics, the title itself of the album sounded "more intriguing" with Beyoncé singing personal songs.

Even though love is the theme Beyoncé had incorporated in the album, "most the material is vague enough to be about any relationship"; however, there are songs that suggested affirmation of their relationship.

In the song "Signs", Beyoncé sings about being in love with a Sagittarius, which coincidentally is Jay-Z's zodiac sign.

In response to the persistent rumors about them, Beyoncé stated, "People can come to whatever conclusion they like... That's the beauty of music... I'm a singer, I'll talk about writing songs all you want. But when it comes to certain personal things any normal person wouldn't tell people they don't know, I just feel like I don't have to [talk about it].

Beyoncé said that the album is lyrically similar to Destiny's Child's albums. But because she only had to write for herself, Beyoncé had the chance to compose personally deeper songs than her previous records with the group.

With a theme that is based upon different stages of a romantic relationship, "Dangerously in Love" contains songs that speak of love and honesty. In addition, Beyoncé admitted that there are songs about love-making.

The personal content of the album, however, was not generally attributed to Beyoncé's own experiences—although some were based from hers—instead, the theme kept recurring in her mind.

Beyoncé later explained: "I wanted to have an album that everyone could relate to and would listen to as long as I'm alive and even after... Love is something that never goes out of style. It's something everybody experiences, and if they are not in love, people usually want to feel that..."

While some of the songs on the album merely focus on the "beauty of love," it also explores another side of love, with songs that "celebrate breakup" and songs that narrate a woman's desire to have a degree of control in a relationship.

The album's hidden track, "Daddy", is a tribute to Beyoncé's father, Mathew Knowles, who fronted Destiny's Child as their manager. It is an account of Beyoncé wanting her future husband and child to possess qualities similar to her father's.

Originally, Beyoncé did not intend to include the track in the album, having thought its lyrics would make her appear immature. However, considering it one of the songs that reflected her life at that transitional moment, she instead relegated "Daddy" as the closing track.

Chart PerformanceEdit

"Dangerously in Love" debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, with first-week sales of 317,000 copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan).

During its second week, the album slid to number two with 183,000 sold, behind Ashanti's album, "Chapter II."

Although the album's first-week sales failed to match that of "Survivor" (which sold 663,000 copies in its debut in 2001), Beyoncé earned the highest among Destiny's Child members' solo albums by best weeks: Kelly Rowland sold 77,000 copies for "Simply Deep" while Michelle Williams earned 17,000 copies for "Heart to Yours" in its strongest week.

The album has been certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and remains Beyoncé's best-selling album to date with cumulative sales of five million copies in the United States (as of June 2016).

Critical ReceptionEdit

"Dangerously in Love" received generally positive reviews from music critics. At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 63, based on 17 reviews.

Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone viewed that it presents Beyoncé in two styles, one "far more flattering" than the other, and found the ballad-oriented songs on the album least flattering, commenting that Beyoncé has "plenty of time" to develop the style maturely that would "[make] sense for her".

Entertainment Weekly's Neil Drumming commented that the album validates Beyoncé's "taste in innovation". He also viewed that Beyoncé's collaboration with various record producers explores new directions in contemporary music, doing more reinventing than revisiting. Like DeCurtis' review, however, Drumming pointed out that "most of the disc's missteps" are in its latter part.

Slant Magazine's Sal Cinquemani wrote that "[Beyoncé] is allowed more room to experiment vocally as a solo artist, exploring softer registers and lathering on the coquettish persona that was only hinted at on Destiny's Child tracks like 'Bootylicious.'".

Steve Jones of USA Today stated, "Beyoncé succeeds by showing greater depth as a songwriter and broader range as a singer".

Blender's Ben Ratliff complimented Beyoncé's performance and stated, "She's playing the cool-hunter but covering the bases with seraphic arrangements of multiple voices. Her reach is remarkable".

Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters called it an "artistic leap" and wrote that it "finds Ms. B in the midst of a fully flowering womanhood and doing the best singing of her career."

In a mixed review, Vibe magazine's Jason King said that the album occasionally "sounds desperate to reach every demographic".

Kelefa Sanneh, writing in The New York Times, felt that it missed the harmonies Beyoncé had in Destiny's Child records and that she is more effective "when she's got a posse behind her".

Rob Fitzpatrick of NME called it "a cruel glimpse of a talent that occasionally blazes but is frustratingly inconsistent."

Uncut called its ballads "self-pitying/self-mythologising" while Q stated, "She has good songs, but no great songs".

Los Angeles Times writer Natalie Nichols expressed that it "demonstrates vocal finesse [...] But, especially on the ballads, [Beyoncé] often drags things out with diva acrobatics".

The Guardian's Adam Sweeting wrote that "the desperate urge to cover every musical base from dancefloor to soul-ballad means that there is barely a track here with any distinctive identity or even a tune".

In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau cited "Yes" and "Baby Boy" as the album's highlights and quippedly remarked, "Dangerously in Love ... with her daddy, the bonus cut reveals—as if we didn't know."

He gave the album a one-star honorable mention, indicating "a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like."

In a retrospective review, AllMusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that "the first half is good enough to make Dangerously in Love one of the best mainstream urban R&B records released in 2003, and makes a strong case that Beyoncé might be better off fulfilling this destiny instead of reuniting with Destiny."

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