Fifteen years ago, on the 23rd June 2003, Beyoncé Knowles released her debut solo album Dangerously in Love.
Transitioning from being part of a hugely popular group to solo artist does not always guarantee success. For every Diana Ross there is a Victoria Beckham, for every Michael Jackson there is a Matt Willis (yes, he went solo) and for every Robbie Williams there is a Mark Owen. Dangerously in Love marked Beyoncé’s departure from Destiny’s Child and boy, was it a success. Scooping five Grammys, the album went multi-platinum and sold over eleven million copies worldwide, setting Beyoncé on the path to superstardom.
Musically, the album blends a mix of traditional soul and R&B to tremendous effect. Starting with the incredibly catchy pop classic ‘Crazy in Love’, the album begins with an almighty bang, following with the sultry, seductive ‘Naughty Girl’ and then finishing with steamy Sean Paul duet ‘Baby Boy’. This trio of tracks instantly gave notice that we had a prodigious talent on our hands. Dangerously in Love is equally impressive in its more gentle moments with tracks such as ‘Me, Myself and I’, ‘Speechless’, and ‘The Closer I Get to You’, displaying Beyoncé’s voice in all its breath-taking beauty. The album is effectively a love letter to her then boyfriend, now husband, Jay-Z, with each track delving deeper into what was clearly then an extremely intimate and loving relationship.
Looking back on Beyoncé’s solo career, I firmly believe that this is her best solo album. Purely on density of hits, this album stands out from the crowd and also appears to be Beyoncé at her freest. Unburdened by expectation, creative restriction and the stresses of life, Dangerously in Love is an exhibition of an artist in full flow.
Remind yourself of this sizzling duet by Beyoncé and Sean Paul: