B'Day (Deluxe Edition)
Glamour girl busts out! Beyonce Knowles has certainly had her funky moments – need we even mention “Crazy in Love”? – but until B’Day, she’s never laid so many of them end to end. With producers including Rodney Jerkins and Rich Harrison (who hooked up both “Crazy” and Amerie’s “1 Thing” with vintage funk-soul samples), B’Day has the superstar trying on one street-ready style after another – and they all fit. Whether a thumping chant with clipped delivery (“Get Me Bodied”) or a playful duet with “friend” Jay-Z (“Upgrade U,” which posits Beyonce as competition for Mary J. Blige in the no-nonsense sweepstakes), she handles the material with aplomb: These may be her best, most assured performances. Even the two ballads (“Irreplaceable,” with its step-team hook, and “Resentment,” which draws heavily on Curtis Mayfield’s “Think”) feel like they have dirt on them. Beyonce wears it well.