Upgrade U

Infobox Single
Name = Upgrade U


Artist = Beyoncé Knowles featuring Jay-Z
Album = B'Day
Released = November 27, 2006 (U.S.)
Format = 12" promo single, digital download
Recorded = Sony Music Studios
(New York City, New York)
Genre = Hip hop soul
Certification = Gold
Label = Columbia
Writer = Beyoncé Knowles, MK, Makeba, Sean Garrett, Angela Beyincé, Shawn Carter, Willie Clarke, Clarence Reid, Solange Knowles
Producer = Swizz Beatz, Cameron Wallace, Beyoncé Knowles
Chronology = Beyoncé Knowles singles
Last single = "Ring the Alarm"
(2006)
This single = "Upgrade U"
(2006)
Next single = "Irreplaceable"
(2007)
Misc = Extra chronology
Artist = Jay-Z
Type = singles
Last single = "Show Me What You Got"
(2006)
This single = "Upgrade U"
(2006)
Next single = "Lost One"
(2006)

"Upgrade U" is a song by American R&B singer Beyoncé Knowles, featuring vocals by hip hop artist Jay-Z. The track was produced by American producers Swizz Beatz, Cameron Wallace and Knowles for her second solo album, "B'Day". "Upgrade U" is about a relationship between a man and a woman; the woman claims she can upgrade her man and introduce him to new things, improving his lifestyle and reputation.

The song was released in the United States only as a promo single. It received mixed reviews from critics and has reached number 11 on the US "Billboard" Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.

Writing and recording

"Upgrade U" samples Betty Wright's 1968 song "Girls Can't Do What the Guys Do" written by Willie Clarke and Clarence Reid. It was produced by Swizz Beatz, Cameron Wallace and Knowles, and was recorded at Sony Music Studios in New York City, New York.Cite album-notes |title=B'Day deluxe edition |publisher=Sony Music BMG Entertainment |date=2007] Knowles sister, Solange, co-wrote and Swizz Beatz co-produced the song. "Upgrade U" is the album's second collaboration with Jay-Z. T.I. also recorded a verse for the song, but it was not included in the album. [Cite news |last=Reid |first=Shaheem |title=Beyonce Album Preview: Harder Sound, Aggressive Songs Among B'Day's Gifts |url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1539691/20060829/knowles_beyonce.jhtml |work=MTV News |date=2007-08-30 |accessdate=2007-12-27]

Music structure and lyrics

"Upgrade U" is a moderate hip hop song, with influences of soul. [Cite web |title=Beyonce - Biography |url=http://www.musicworldentertainment.com/beyonce.php |work=Music World Entertainment |accessdate=2008-02-11] The song is set in the key of D minor, with a beat in common time.Cite web |title=Digital Sheet Music: Upgrade U |url=http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/scorch.asp?ppn=SC0034387 |work=Musicnotes |publisher=Hal Leonard Corporation |accessdate=2007-12-27] The song features a synth-horn backdrop,Cite web |last=Rosen |firs=Jody |title=Music Review: B'Day (2006)-Beyonce Knowles |url=http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,1516025,00.html |work=Entertainment Weekly |date=2007-09-01 |accessdate=2007-12-28] and, like most of the tracks in the album, the drum beat of the song is provided by the Roland TR-808 drum machine.Cite web |last=Williams |first=Chris |title=Beyonce's 'B'Day' Is Nothing to Celebrate |url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/05/AR2006090501475.html |work=The Washington Post |date=2006-09-06 |accessdate=2008-02-10] It opens with a dialogue between Knowles and Jay-Z, and features a rap before the final chorus.

The concept of the song revolves around a woman offering luxuries to a man, to upgrade the lifestyle and the reputation of the latter; it is similar to the concept of "Suga Mama", a song from "B'Day".Cite web |last=Rodman |first=Sarah |title=Beyonce shows rage and range on new release |url=http://www.boston.com/news/globe/living/articles/2006/09/04/beyonce_shows_rage_and_range_on_new_release/ |work=The Boston Globe |publisher=The New York Times Company |date=2006-09-04 |accessdate=2008-02-10] Both Jay-Z and Knowles name-check in the song several luxury goods, companies, and personalities: "Audemars Piguet", a Swiss watchmaker; "Jacob the Jeweler", a celebrity jeweler; "Cartier", a jeweler and watch manufacturer; "Hermès", a luxury goods company; "Lorraine Schwartz", a celebrity jeweler; "Ralph Lauren Purple Label", a higher-end division of the legendary designer's clothing line; "Natura Bisse Diamond Cream", a diamond dust mixed with cream that is expensive; "6 star pent suites", only a handful exist in the world such as Crown Macau in China and Dreams Los Cabos near San Jose del Cabo in Mexicom; "The Amalfi Coast", located in Southern Italy; "Fendi", a luxury goods company; and "The Bloomberg Luxury Accommodation Group", that is partly owned by Calangian and Zobel families which is located around the world and caters to Hollywood-millionaire types. [cite news|url=http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1548533/20061219/jay_z.jhtml|title=Luxury Ties, Fancy Suites: A Guide To Beyonce And Jay-Z's 'Upgrade U'|last=Reid|first=Shaheem|coauthors=Cobbin-Wooten, Raslyn|date=2006-12-20|work=MTV News|accessdate=2008-08-07]

Reception

"Upgrade U" has received mixed reviews. Eb Haynes of Allhiphop called the track "the finest of the Bonnie and Clyde, Ride or Die series".Cite web |last=Haynes |first=Eb |title=B'Day |url=http://allhiphop.com/stories/reviews/archive/2006/09/20/18134780.aspx |work=Allhiphop |date=2006-09-20 |accessdate=2008-02-10] He also commented that the song was "consistent with B's assertiveness". Sarah Rodman of "The Boston Globe" wrote that Beyoncé "declares herself an equal" and "disturbingly conflates transforming her man into a leader". Chris Williams of "The Washington Post" described the track a reflection of "buy-me-love sentiments". Andy Kellman of Allmusic considered "Upgrade U" the "most potent track on the album" which he described as a "low-slung Cameron Wallace production where Beyoncé wears and buys the pants while making her proposition sound more like empowerment than emasculation". [Cite web |last=Kellman |first=Andy |title=B'Day |url=http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:0cfyxqqdld6e |work=Allmusic |publisher=Macrovision Company |accessdate=2008-02-10] Tim Finney of Pitchfork Media called it a "stiffly blaring" track. [Cite web |last=Finney |first=Time |title=Beyoncé: B'Day |url=http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/record_review/38328-bday |work=Pitchfork Media |date=2006-09-07 |accessdate=2008-02-10] Mike Joseph of Popmatters considered that " ['Upgrade U'] survives not due to B’s singing, but due to the natural chemistry that she and Jay have." [Cite web |last=Joseph |first=Mike |title=Beyoncé: B-Day |url=http://www.popmatters.com/pm/music/reviews/5216/beyonce-b-day/ |work=Popmatters |date=2006-09-11 |accessdate=2008-02-10] Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine found " ['Upgrade U'] could very well "be" a Destiny's Child track". [Cite web |last=Cinquemani |first=Sal |title=Beyoncé: B'Day |url=http://www.slantmagazine.com/music/music_review.asp?ID=950 |work=Slant Magazine |accessdate=2008-02-10] Bernard Zuel of "The Sydney Morning Herald" referred to it as a "mechanical" track. [Cite web |last=Zuel |first=Bernard |title=B'Day |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/cd-reviews/bday/2006/09/08/1157222307561.html |work=The Sydney Morning Herald |date=2006-09-08 |accessdate=2008-02-10] Phil Harrison of Timeout commented that " ['Upgrade U'] hints at ambivalence towards bling aspirations." [Cite web |last=Harrison |first=Phil |title=Beyoncé: B'Day |url=http://www.timeout.com/london/music/review/audio/426/beyonce_b-day.html |work=Timeout |date=2006-08-25 |accessdate=2008-02-10] Carolyn Davis of "US Magazine" found it a "catchy track" where Beyoncé and Jay-Z "address rumors they're getting engaged". [Cite web |last=Davis |first=Carolyn |title=B-Day: Beyoncé’s back and branching out with a more mature sound |url=http://www.usmagazine.com/node/560 |work=US Magazine |publisher=US Weekly |accessdate=2008-02-10] "Entertainment Weekly"'s The 10 Best Songs of 2007 listed "Upgrade you" at number five behind Justin Timberlake's "LoveStoned/I Think That She Knows", while Joy Rosen complimented the collaboration of Beyoncé and Jay-Z in the song as "both halves of music's power couple pay tribute to the virtues of materialism."

The phrase "let me upgrade U" from the song has been used in Lil' Mama's "Lip Gloss", [cite web|accessdate=2008-08-08|url=http://www.metrolyrics.com/lip-gloss-lyrics-lil-mama.html|title=Lil' Mama Lip Gloss Lyrics |publisher=Metro Lyrics] Kanye West's first verse in the freestyle of Rich Boy's "Throw Some D's", [cite web|accessdate=2008-08-08|url=http://www.metrolyrics.com/throw-some-ds-lyrics-rich-boy.html|title=Rich Boy Throw Some D's Lyrics |publisher=Metro Lyrics] and Bow Wow's rap verse on the remix of Paula DeAnda's "Easy". [cite web|accessdate=2008-08-08|url=http://www.metrolyrics.com/easy-lyrics-paula-deanda.html|title=Paula Deanda Easy Lyrics |publisher=Metrolyrics] Lil Wayne performed a freestyle over the beat of "Upgrade U" on his mixtape "Da Drought 3". [cite web|accessdate=2008-08-09|url=http://www.metrolyrics.com/upgrade-lyrics-lil-wayne.html|title=Lil' Wayne Upgrade Lyrics |publisher=Metrolyrics]

After the release of "B'Day", and before its release as a single, the song gained popularity on R&B and hip hop radio stations in the U.S.; [Caulfield, Keith. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/ask_bb/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003525978 "Ask Billboard - Replacing Irreplaceable"] . "Billboard". December 29, 2006. Retrieved February 8, 2007.] consequently, it entered the U.S. "Billboard" Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, and later the "Billboard" Hot 100 at number ninety-two on November 9, 2006. The song was released as a twelve-inch promotional single on November 27, [http://www.juno.co.uk/products/246850-01.htm "BEYONCE feat JAY Z - Upgrade U"] . Juno Records. Retrieved June 28, 2007.] after which it reached number fifty-nine on the Hot 100 and number eleven on the R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. [http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/retrieve_chart_history.do?model.vnuArtistId=317670&model.vnuAlbumId=791335 "Beyoncé - Artist Chart History - Singles"] . "Billboard". Retrieved February 8, 2007.] "Upgrade U" remained on the Hot 100 for eighteen non-consecutive weeks. [ [http://acharts.us/song/11390 "Beyoncé and Jay-Z - Upgrade U"] . aCharts.us. Retrieved June 28, 2007.]

Music video

"Upgrade U" was shot during the two-week filming for "B'Day Anthology Video Album". It was directed by Melina and Beyoncé, and shot between "Kitty Kat" and "Green Light" for a day and a half. Jay-Z performed his rap scenes after Beyoncé studied her part.Cite web |last=Vineyard |first=Jennifer |title=Beyonce: Behind The B’Day Videos |url=http://www.mtv.com/bands/b/beyonce/videos_07/news_feature_040207/index3.jhtml |work=MTV |publisher=MTV Network |date= |accessdate=2008-02-10] In the video, Beyoncé pretends as Jay-Z during the second rap; she later commented that she was "out of her character" or the character "people think" she is.

It premiered on February 28 on BET's "106 & Park" – the same day as the video for Beyoncé's other single release, "Beautiful Liar" featuring Shakira, on "TRL". The music video for "Upgrade U" peaked at number six on "106 & Park"; in the UK, the music video peaked at number one on MTV Base's "Base Chart Show" on May 16. [cite news|title=Beyonce Sets Billboard Chart Record as 'Beautiful Liar'|publisher=PR Newswire|date=2007-03-29]

In the beginning of the video, Beyoncé is seen mouthing the words of Jay-Z's lyrics, dressed in masculine, hip-hop style clothing. She is later seen wearing vintage Cazal 907 sunglasses and singing in the backseat of a Rolls Royce. During the choruses, she dances in a gold minidress in front of a group of male back-up dancers. She continues the Jay-Z imitation through his rapped verse, and halfway through it, Jay-Z appears to finish the rap himself. Beyoncé is seen amidst gold watches and jewelry, continuing the motif of luxury that is alluded to in the song.

The music video has been used as a commercial advertising high definition satellite television from DirecTV; portions of the video were re-shot for her announcement. [cite web|accessdate=2008-08-07|url=http://michigan.scout.com/a.z?s=162&p=2&c=705819|title=Cavalcade of Whimsy - The Coaching Situations |publisher=Scout|date=2007-11-27|author=Fiutak, Pete ]

Credits and personnel

* Lead vocals: Beyoncé Knowles, Jay-Z
* Mixed by Jason Goldstein
* Mixing assistance: Steve Tolle
* Recorded by Jim Caruana at Sony Music Studios, New York City
* Assisted by Rob Kinelski

Formats and track listings

;12" single I [ [http://www.2-funky.co.uk/products//555485/upgrade "Vinyl I"] . 2FunkyRecords. Retrieved on February 14, 2007.]
# "Upgrade U" (album version) – 4:32
# "Upgrade U" (instrumental) - 4:32
# "Upgrade U" (album version - no rap) - 4:02
# "Upgrade U" (acapella) - 4:32;12" single II [ [http://www.2-funky.co.uk/products//555550/upgrade "Vinyl II"] . 2FunkyRecords. Retrieved on February 14, 2007.]
# "Upgrade U" (album version) – 4:32
# "Creole" - 3:53
# "Lost Yo Mind" – 3:47
# "Back Up" - 3:27

References


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