A simple link-up between Megan Thee Stallion and Beyoncé at a New Year’s Eve party this past winter was exciting enough to get my iMessages percolating with screenshots of their photo booth pictures together. To expect a collaboration from the two women, Houston’s brightest prospect and its OG lodestar, would have verged on arrogance. After all, fans have spent years begging for her to record a duet with her own sister. And so her remix of Megan’s “Savage”—not just a 16-bar verse tacked on at the end, but a full re-imagination of the hit song, with new raps from Megan too—is an unexpected treat.
Beyoncé has often been at her freest and most experimental on these kinds of one-offs, where the stakes are presumably lower than they are on her album-as-event opuses. She joked about her elevator scandal on a remix of “***Flawless”; she out-rapped both Jay Z and Future on DJ Khaled’s “Top Off”; she even flexed some Spanish on a remix of J Balvin’s “Mi Gente,” to raise money for victims of Hurricane Harvey. The whimsy she brings to those non-album drops is all over the “Savage” remix, also a charity release. (Proceeds will support Covid-19 relief in Houston, via the Methodist organization Bread of Life Inc.) The song retains the simple piano beat and staccato hook that propelled it to viral status, but Beyoncé upgrades the original from a good song to a multi-dimensional one.
Few artists ever sound like they’re having a better time than Beyoncé does when she raps. In her second verse, she references the late night stripper Instagram phenomenon Demon Time, the pornographic subscription service Onlyfans, and the social media network du jour TikTok, as if to tease fans who are still stuck on the existence of her secret Snapchat account. As ever, her effortless delivery is half of the appeal. Even when her lyrics should draw a cringe—“Please don’t get me hyped, write my name in ice/Can’t argue with these lazy bitches, I just raise my price,” she goes at one point—she’s having enough fun to make it work. It may be in uncharacteristic poor taste to brag about her wealth (“I mopped the floor, now watch me sweep up these Ms”) in a moment when much of the country is facing income insecurity, but, uh, I guess it’s for a good cause? In addition to the obvious merit of charity, the song’s existence is a delightfully welcome gift—so say all my texts.