Before that movie starts filming, there’s the new album to finish. On the six tracks I heard, the beats are more jagged and deeper than on previous albums. In one song she berates an ex-lover (“It sucks to be you right now”), and in another, celebrates losing a not-good-enough man (“Thank God you blew it/Thank God I dodged a bullet”). Her voice has more rasp, more raunch, but there’s also an instant-classic power ballad that swells with female empowerment. “The fans have named the album 4,” Beyoncé explained. “And four is my favorite number. It’s an important number in my life: the date of my birthday, my mom’s birthday, my husband’s birthday, the day I got married. Barack Obama is the 44th president, and I performed ‘At Last’ by Etta James at his inauguration.”
In honor of that fourth solo album, we asked Beyoncé to pick some images from her post–Destiny’s Child career that illustrate her ever evolving persona. “All these images have something in common,” Beyoncé said. “In my videos I always want to be a powerful woman. That’s my mission.”CLICK HERE to view the slideshow.