Saddle up, BeyHive! Here's everything we know about Beyoncé's “Act II: Cowboy Carter”

All the deets on the eighth studio album from Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter.

Renaissance may still be heavy in your rotation, but Beyoncé is moving on to her next act — specifically, the second installment in a three-act musical project, Cowboy Carter.

Act I, a joyous dance album celebrating Black queer culture, was released July 29, 2022, and supported by a record-breaking world tour that launched the following February. Now it's time to trade in those sequined cowboy hats for… well, you can probably keep those, since Bey's getting ready to take us to the rodeo as only she can. Here's everything we know about Act II: Cowboy Carter.

How did we get here?

Entering the third year of this ambitious project, Beyoncé unexpectedly — as if there's any other way — dropped two new songs directly after her Verizon Super Bowl commercial aired, "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages."

When is the release date?

Showcasing the kind of synergy that most Fortune 500 companies could only dream of, shortly after the commercial aired, Beyoncé's website and social media updated with the album's release date, March 29.

What's the vibe?

Act II was long rumored to be a country album, and the first two singles — "Texas Hold 'Em" and "16 Carriages" — as well as the visual trailer Bey shared online all but confirmed the Houston native's twangy leanings.

What's been the reaction?

Beyonce's 'Texas Hold 'Em' cover art
Beyonce's 'Texas Hold 'Em' cover art

Following the release of the two lead singles, questions on whether country radio would play the new tracks after an Oklahoma station refused a fan request for the tracks, saying, "We do not play Beyoncé on KYKC as we are a country music station." After the fan outcry across social media, the station added the tracks to their playlist. Still, some were quick to criticize Bey for going country, while others were quicker to point out that country music, like all American popular music, has its roots in Black culture, and Bey's out here reclaiming some of that history (and let's not forget the "Daddy Lessons" remix with the Chicks).

"Country music is based on the music from Africa brought over on the slave ships. And from Europe. With the fiddle and banjo," radio host and former American Idol mentor Bobby Bones said, noting that other artists had crossed over to country with much less controversy. "So all these dudes yelling 'that ain't country'… unless you're European or African, you ain't really 'country.'"

Regardless, fans have been eating up the new tangy Bey, with "Texas Hold 'Em" going No. 1 on both the country charts (a first for a Black woman) and the Hot 100 (Bey's ninth solo chart-topper).

What's the album title?

<p>Beyonce/ Instagram</p> 'Cowboy Carter' imagery on Beyoncé's Instagram

Beyonce/ Instagram

'Cowboy Carter' imagery on Beyoncé's Instagram

Bey shared the title on social media on March 12, a saddle with a red, white, and blue sash emblazoned with the words "Cowboy Carter." This being the second of three acts, it's officially Act II: Cowboy Carter. America has a problem, and it's dropping at the end of the month.

How long has this been going on?

In an Instagram post revealing the album cover, Beyoncé revealed that Cowboy Carter "has been over five years in the making." She cited, but did not name, a particular experience when she did not "feel welcomed" in country music.

What was the experience?

<p>Rick Diamond/Getty</p> Beyoncé and the Chicks at the 2016 CMA Awards

Rick Diamond/Getty

Beyoncé and the Chicks at the 2016 CMA Awards

It was definitely the 2016 Country Music Association Awards, when Bey performed "Daddy Lessons," off Lemonade, with the Chicks, who had taken to performing a cover of the song on the road but had also been all but exiled from country music for their political views. The performance was legendary/iconic/perfection/etc., but reactions at the time were mixed, with some choosing to walk out in the middle of it, racist reactions online, and just general stick-in-the-muddery. But Beyoncé being Beyoncé, she just dug in her spurs and took a "deeper dive into the history of country music and studied our rich musical archive." The criticisms she faced after the CMA experience forced Bey "to propel past the limitations that were put on me."

Why all the secrecy?

It's Beyoncé, what do you want? Mama loves to keep us on our toes. While pushing ever forward, at the end of the day Bey's just a good old-fashioned entertainer, throwing fistfuls of razzle and dazzle our way. And she's about the only global superstar who can keep multiple secrets at any given time.

What's the third act?

Wouldn't you like to know? We would too! A Destiny's Child reunion? Epic diva duets? A rock opus? Renaissance (Taylor's Version)? The possibilities are endless.

Beg your Parton?

<p>Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage; Michael Loccisano/Getty</p> Dolly Parton and Beyoncé

Shirlaine Forrest/WireImage; Michael Loccisano/Getty

Dolly Parton and Beyoncé

According to national treasure Dolly Parton, Beyoncé may have covered her 1973 classic, vaguely sapphic other-woman bop "Jolene", and she thinks "it's probably gonna be on her country album" — but don't take her word for it. Parton said she "heard" and "thinks" and "hopes" that Bey has covered the song. Considering how close to her sequined vest Bey keeps these kinds of things, it's perhaps best to take this one with a grain of salt. Not that Parton is a liar — perish the thought — but it might just not be a straightforward cover.

How did Franklin the Turtle get pulled into this?

<p>getty; everett collection</p> Beyoncé and Franklin the Turtle

getty; everett collection

Beyoncé and Franklin the Turtle

The internet seemed to think that "Texas Hold 'Em" sounds similar to the theme song from late-'90s/early-'00s kids cartoon Franklin. It doesn't, but that didn't stop the composer of that theme song from weighing in saying basically this ain't no Texas, and this ain't no Franklin.

Can we get a track list up in here?

Ya sure can! Bey shared what appeared to be Cowboy Carter's track list on social media, hinting that there might be cameos from her good friend Parton and fellow country legend Willie Nelson. There was also reference to Linda Martell, 82 years young, one of the first commercially successful Black artists in country, and the first to play the Grand Ole Opry.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.