This essay explores the critical work of Beyoncé's second solo recording, and places it in conversation with yet another under-theorized yet equally dissonant R&B performance by her “hip-hop soul queen” contemporary Mary J. Blige. In relation to both Beyoncé's and Blige's work, I examine the politics of black women's pop music culture in relation to the Gulf Coast catastrophe and the extreme marginalization of black women in American sociopolitical culture. I suggest that we look closely at the musical performances of Beyoncé as well as Blige, as each artist's work creates a particular kind of black feminist surrogation, that is, an embodied performance that recycles palpable forms of black female sociopolitical grief and loss as well as spirited dissent and dissonance. Their combined efforts mark a new era of protest singing that sonically resists, revises, and reinvents the politics of black female hypervisibility in the American cultural imaginary.

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