The People is our section for opinions on all things concerning Black Chicago. In this piece, Tiffany Walden touches on the importance of Beyoncé playing “Hay” by Crucial Conflict during her headlining Coachella performance. 

I won’t start off this piece by stating the obvious: Beyoncé now is the greatest performer of all time. Because, well, I’m really not here for the trolls. Besides, I had that argument this morning on my Facebook page with people who are delusionally screaming she’s no Chris Brown. I understand Tina Turner, Michael Jackson, Prince and Janet Jackson but Chris Brown? C’mon, y’all.

Irregardless**, if you haven’t personally attended a Beyoncé concert in the last five years or, perhaps most importantly, took the time last night (or this morning) to watch her Coachella performance for the free on YouTube, this piece isn’t for you.

Beyoncé put together what’s possibly the Blackest and most seamlessly stunning show by any musical artist of her stature at what’s undeniably the whitest and most coveted music festival in the world. Within the first ten minutes of the show, Queen Bey 1) reclaimed the Blackness of Queen Nefertiti which white media so foolishly tried to erase recently, 2) bumped the Divine 9 up to the Holy 10 and 3) led us into a beautiful protest of today’s overtly racist state by pausing to sing the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

However, I wasn’t even ‘gon write about the California-based Beychella on The TRiiBE because it really didn’t have anything to do with Chicago. That’s until Mrs. Carter and her HBCU band showed out in a dope tribute to one of Chicago’s most iconic songs of all time, “Hay” by Crucial Conflict.

“Hay” is the heartbeat of Chicago rap: A perfect use of the Funkadelic’s “I’ll Stay” sample boiling underneath an electrifying flow that would eventually become the city’s signature.

“Hay” is the soul of Black folk on Chicago’s West Side: A perfect ode to our southern roots and the accompanying Miss’ippi twang which still lives in our tongues today.

“Hay” is Black Chicago: The result of young Black innovators melding new trends with their soulful upbringing on Herb Kent’s hits and dusties to put their stamp on the music world.

Play “Hay” by Crucial Conflict at the club, day party or brunch in Chicago and us thoroughbreds are going off – forming a circle to rap and sing along in chorus.

Hearing “Hay” on not only Beyoncé’s stage, but on the world stage of Coachella is a testament to the contributions Black Chicago has always made in the music world.

It’s only right that we give Crucial Conflict their roses while we still can. We salute y’all.

** And yes, I’m fully aware that “irregardless” is not a word. If you don’t get it, this is not for you.

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is the editor-in-chief of The TRiiBE and a 2023-2024 John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.