Dangerously in Love is the first solo studio album by Beyoncé, released in the United States on June 22, 2003 by Columbia & Music World Records.
It became a worldwide commercial success, earning multi-platinum certifications in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 317,000 copies in its first week.
Beyoncé launched her career as lead singer to R&B group Destiny's Child in the late 1990s.
According to Corey Moss of MTV News, "fans are eager to see" how Beyoncé, after years with the group, performs solo.
While recording their third album Survivor in late 2000, Beyoncé announced the group would be put on hiatus in order for the members to produce solo albums in the coming years which they hoped would boost interest in Destiny's Child.
The idea of individual releases emanated from the group's manager and Beyoncé's father, Mathew.
With different types of music for each member to produce, the albums were not intended to compete on the charts.
Destiny's Child's management strategically planned to stagger the release of each group member's album to maximise sales.
Michelle Williams was the first to release a debut solo album "Heart to Yours" in April 2002.
Meanwhile, Beyoncé debuted on the big screen, starring in the comedy film "Austin Powers in Goldmember" and recorded her debut single "Work It Out" which is featured on the soundtrack to the film.
Kelly Rowland collaborated with rapper Nelly on the song "Dilemma" as a featured artist.
It became a hit that year, leading the label to advance the release date of her debut solo album Simply Deep in late 2002.
Beyoncé also starred in The Fighting Temptations and recorded another solo single. In August 2002, she collaborated with then-boyfriend Jay-Z as featured vocalist on the song "'03 Bonnie & Clyde."
The single earned Beyoncé credibility and paved the way for the release of the album.
Album Recording & Production
Before Beyoncé began recording for Dangerously in Love, she selected the producers with whom she would collaborate.
For two days, she held meetings with prospective producers from the West Coast across the East Coast and had interviews with them.
She went to Miami, Florida to begin sessions with Canadian record producer Scott Storch, her first collaborator and lived in a Miami hotel in the following months.
As she wanted to concentrate on the album, Beyoncé took her time to avoid pressure build-up, significantly different from the hasty productions of Destiny's Child.
As she did on the Survivor album, Beyoncé took a wider role in the production of Dangerously in Love, co-writing a majority of the songs, choosing which ones to produce and sharing ideas on the mixing and mastering of tracks.
Although Beyoncé did not create beats, she came up with melodies and ideas she shared with the producers.
With 43 songs completed (fifteen of which made it to the album), she is credited as co-writer and co-producer as well as the album's executive producer alongside Matthew Knowles.
Beyoncé felt that recording an album without her group mates was "liberating and therapeutic," coming into the studio and freely expressing her ideas with her collaborators.
The dependency she developed with Destiny's Child, however, meant it was harder "to be on [her] own creatively."
As she wanted to grow as an artist Beyoncé contacted other artists with a view to forming a collaborative partnership.
When the collective finished writing several songs, Beyoncé printed copies of each and sent them to prospective guest artists. She talked to them by phone for possible collaboration, eventually gaining their approval.
Besides Jay-Z, Beyoncé was able to work with Jamaican artist Sean Paul, American rapper Missy Elliott, among others.
In contrast, some artists sent copies of songs to Beyoncé, which were eventually produced.
Additionally, she also worked with Timberland and Missy Elliott on a track titled "Wrapped Around Me" for the album, but due to unknown reasons, the song failed to appear on the album.
The track "Dangerously in Love" was originally a song of the same title which Beyoncé had written for "Survivor," but it was deemed too sophisticated compared to other songs on the album and the group decided not to release it as a single off the album.
After recording several tracks for the album, Beyoncé decided to add "Dangerously in Love" after realizing that it fit the overriding theme of the album.
Since the album's release date was postponed to capitalize on the success of "Dilemma", Beyoncé had been offered the chance to further enhance the album.
Although she was disappointed with the move, she realized that "everything happens for a reason," agreeing to return to the recording studio to work with other songwriters.
This allowed her to record more songs, including the album's lead single "Crazy in Love".
In late 2002, Beyoncé paused working on Dangerously in Love for a holiday tour with Destiny's Child.
With a few weeks left for recording in March 2003, she was still collaborating with other guests on the album, including Sean Paul and P. Diddy.
- Crazy In Love (Single)
- Naughty Girl (Single)
- Baby Boy (Single)
- Hip Hop Star
- Be with You
- Me, Myself And I (Single)
- That's How You Like It
- The Closer I Get to You (Feat. Luther Vandross)
- Dangerously In Love
- Beyoncé Interlude
- Gift from Virgo
- Daddy (hidden track)
- I can‘t Take No more
- Work It Out (From The Austin Powers Movie) - European, Latin American and Australian edition
- Bienvenue (I Am) – French and Belgian edition
- Bonnie & Clyde - European, Latin American and Australian edition, French and Belgian edition, Japanese Edition
- Crazy In Love ft. Vanessa Wu – Asian special edition
- What’s it gonna be – Japanese edition
Beyonce's mother-manager said that "Dangerously in Love" showcases her musical roots.
While Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland were on gospel and alternative pop, respectively, Beyonce focused on recording R&B songs.
The songs in the album are varied: from mid-tempo and club-oriented tracks in the first half, and ballads in the second half.
"My album is a good balance of ... ballads and ... mid-tempos with just ridin'-in-your-car feels, to a lot of ... up-tempo club songs, to really sexy songs, to songs that make you feel emotional. It's a nice mixture of different types of tracks."
With high-energy songs like "Crazy in Love" and "Naughty Girl", however, the album's focal mode is slow and moody.
Beyonce said that she had written lots of ballads for the album. According to her, she wanted to be understood as an artist and showcase her range and by doing so, she blended various genres and musical influences in the album.
The album incorporates R&B, hip hop, soul and reggae influences. It also took hip hop influences from Jay-Z, Outkast and Lil' Kim. The reggae is from Sean Paul and courtesy of Storch, the album explores Arabic music.
His personal study of that kind of music has given the album a Middle Eastern vibe. Beyonce and the producers also used a wide array of instrumentations.
When "'03 Bonnie & Clyde" was released as a single in late 2002, critics and the public had speculated that Beyonce and Jay-Z were having a mutual affair. Despite widespread rumour, they remained silent about their relationship.
According to critics, the title itself of the album sounds "more intriguing" with Beyonce singing personal songs.
Even though love is the theme Beyonce had incorporated in the album, "most the material is vague enough to be about any relationship," however, there are songs that suggest affirmation of their relationship.
In the song "Signs", Beyonce sings being in love with a Sagittarius which coincidentally is jay-Z's zodiac sign.
In response to the persistent rumors about them, she stated:
"People can come to whatever conclusion they like ... That's the beauty of music ... I'm a singer, I'll talk about writing songs all you want. But when it comes to certain personal things any normal person wouldn't tell people they don't know, I just feel like I don't have to [talk about it]."
Beyonce said that Dangerously in Love is lyrically similar to Destiny's Child's albums, but because she only had to write for herself, she had the chance to compose personally deeper songs than their previous records.
With a theme that is based upon different stages of a romantic relationship, "Dangerously in Love" contains songs that speak of love and honesty.
In addition, Beyonce admitted that there are songs about love-making.
The personal content of the album, however, was not generally attributed to Beyonce's experience—although some were based from hers—instead, because the theme kept recurring in her mind.
She later explained:
"I wanted to have an album that everyone could relate to and would listen to as long as I'm alive and even after ... Love is something that never goes out of style. It's something everybody experiences, and if they are not in love, people usually want to feel that ..."
While some songs merely focus on the "beauty of love", the album also explores the other side, of which songs that "celebrate breakup" and songs that narrate a woman's desire to having a degree of control in a relationship.
The album's hidden track, "Daddy" is a tribute to her father whom she was with in the industry for years since Mathew Knowles fronted the group as their manager.
The song is an account of Beyonce wanting her future husband and child to possess qualities similar to her father's. Originally, she did not intend to include the track in the album, having thought its lyrics would make her appear immature.
However, considering it one of the songs that reflect Beyonce's life at that transitional moment, she instead relegated the song "Daddy" as the closing track.
Beyonce said that she had trouble convincing executives at Columbia Records to release the album.
She recounted that it almost was not released:
"In 2003, I had my first solo album. But when I played it through for my record label, they told me I didn't have one hit on my album. I guess they were kinda right, I had five. 'Dangerously In Love', 'Naughty Girl', 'Me, Myself and I', 'Baby Boy' and 'Crazy In Love'."
Since "Dilemma" was concurrently charting atop the Billboard Hot 100, Beyonce's management released, "Work It Out" (one of the songs on the soundtrack to "Austin Powers in Goldchamber") instead of a single from the album to preclude it from possibly competing with the former.
From the original release date of October 2002, the album was pushed to December in the same year and to May in the following year.
Beyonce recorded a version of "In da Club" and served its way to Mixtape before its original release date.
The single failed to dominate as "dancefloor,favorite" however, Mathew Knowles confirmed that it was just a "buzz cut" and was not included in the album.
Nonetheless, it earned enough airplay to appear on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart.
While Beyonce was wrapping up the album, several of its songs had leaked online. In efforts to prevent more tracks in the album from being spread illegally, as well as being a victim of bootlegging, Columbia Records with high commercial expectations from the album pulled the release of "Dangerously in Love" to June 24, 2003, two weeks ahead of the planned July 8 release.
Buyers who pre-ordered the album online received links where they could download a song called "I Can't Take No More." the promo lasted until the album's release
On June 14, 2003, Beyonce premiered songs from the album during her first solo concert and the pay-per-view TV special "Ford Presents Beyonce, Friends & Family, Live From Ford's 100th Anniversary Celebration in Dearborn, Michigan."
By the night of the album's release, Beyonce's concert was broadcast in more than twenty theaters across the United States.
Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams, Tyrese, Solange Knowles and girl group Ramiyah also performed in the show.
Beyonce also promoted the album by performing in television shows such as "Saturday Night Live," "Late Show with David Letterman," "The Today Show," "The Early Show" and "The View."
By April of 2003, Beyonce's management was choosing the album's lead single between two songs.
Sent to clubs, the song that would receive positive reception were be considered the lead single.
Finally, "Crazy in Love" was released as the lead single off the album. With commercial success that included crossover music markets. The single spent eight consecutive weeks at number one on the Billboard Hot 100.
"Baby Boy" followed and received greater success than "Crazy in Love." With its dominance on radio airplays, the single surpassed "Crazy in Love"'s chart performance, remaining on the top spot for nine consecutive weeks.
"Me, Myself and I" was released as the third single and "Naughty Girl" as fourth and last.
Although the last two releases only reached the top five on the Hot 100, like "Baby Boy", it attained more immediate and commercial successes which propelled the album atop the chart and helped it earn multi-platinum certifications.
- "Crazy in Love"
Released: February 8, 2003
- "Baby Boy"
Released: May 10, 2003
- "Me, Myself and I"
Released: June 6, 2003
- "Naughty Girl"
Released: January 15, 2004
"Dangerously in Love" received generally positive reviews from music critics.
At Metacritic, the album received an average score of 64 based on 16 reviews.
Anthony DeCurtis of Rolling Stone viewed that it presents Beyonce in two styles, one "far more flattering" than the other and found the ballad-oriented songs on the album least flattering, commenting that Beyonce has "plenty of time" to develop the style maturely that would "[make] sense for her."
Entertainment Weekly's Neil Drumming commented that the album validates Beyonce's "taste in innovation."
He also viewed that Beyonce's collaboration with various record producers explores new directions in contemporary music, doing more reinventing than revisiting.
Like DeCurtis' review, however, Drumming pointed out that "most of the disc's missteps" are in its latter part.
Slant Magazine's Sal Chiquemani wrote that:
"[Beyonce] is allowed more room to experiment vocally as a solo artist, exploring softer registers and lathering on the coquettish persona that was only hinted at on Destiny's Child tracks like 'Bootylicious."
Steve Jones of USA Today stated:
"Beyonce succeeds by showing greater depth as a songwriter and broader range as a singer."
Blender's Ben Ratliff complimented Beyonce's performance and stated:
"She’s playing the cool-hunter but covering the bases with seraphic arrangements of multiple voices. Her reach is remarkable."
Mark Anthony Neal of PopMatters called it an "artistic leap" and wrote that it "finds Ms. B in the midst of a fully flowering womanhood and doing the best singing of her career."
In a mixed review, Vibe magazine's Jason King said that the album occasionally "sounds desperate to reach every demographic."
Kelefa sanneh, writing in The New York Times, felt that it missed the harmonies Beyonce had in Destiny's Child records and that she is more effective "when she's got a posse behind her."
Rob Fitzpatrick of NME called it "a cruel glimpse of a talent that occasionally blazes but is frustratingly inconsistent."
Uncut called its ballads "self-pitying/self-mythologising" while Q stated: "She has good songs, but no great songs."
Los Angeles Times writer Natalie Nichols expressed that it "demonstrates vocal finesse [...] But, especially on the ballads, [Beyonce] often drags things out with diva acrobatics."
The Guardian's Adam Sweeting wrote that "the desperate urge to cover every musical base from dancefloor to soul-ballad means that there is barely a track here with any distinctive identity or even a tune."
In his consumer guide for The Village Voice, Robert Christgau cited "Yes" and "Baby Boy" as the album's highlights and Quippedly remarked:
"Dangerously in Love ... with her daddy, the bonus cut reveals—as if we didn't know."
He gave the album a one-star honorable mention indicating "a worthy effort consumers attuned to its overriding aesthetic or individual vision may well like."
In a retrospective review, Allmusic editor Stephen Thomas Erlewine commented that "the first half is good enough to make Dangerously in Love one of the best mainstream urban R&B records released in 2003, and makes a strong case that Beyonce might be better off fulfilling this destiny instead of reuniting with Destiny."
"Dangerously in Love" and its singles earned Beyonce numerous awards.
In 2003, "Crazy in Love" won her three awards at the MTV Video Music Awards including "Best Female Video" and "Best R&B Video."
In the same year, Beyonce was recognized the "New Female Artist" and "New R&B Artist" among the four awards she won during the Billboard Music Awards.
The following year, she won "Best Contemporary R&B Album" and "Best R&B Song," "Best Rap/Sung Collaboration" for "Crazy in Love," "Best R&B Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals" for "The Closer I Get to You" with Luther Vandross and "Best Female R&B Vocal Performance" for "Dangerously in Love 2" at the Grammy Awards.
The 1000th issue of the Entertainment Weekly which celebrates "the new classics: the 1000 best movies, TV shows, albums, books, etc. from 1983 to 2008" ranks Dangerously in Love 19th of the Top 100 Best Albums of the past 25 years.
The album is ranked at number 183 on the 200 definitive albums that shaped rock and roll according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
In 2009, British magazine NME voted the album's lead single "Crazy in Love" as the best song of the decade.
The song was also ranked at number three on Rolling Stone's 100 "Best Songs of the Decade," number four on Pitchfork Media's list of "The Top 500 Tracks of the 2000s," number seven on a list produced by The Daily Telegraph and number six on Slant Magazine's list of the "100 Best Singles of the Decade."
With the release of "Dangerously in Love" and the combined commercial success of its singles, Beyonce had established herself a viable solo artist.
Rebecca Louie of the New York Daily News wrote that the success of Dangerously in Love brought Beyonce into a "sultry solo star" who "blossomed from a girly group", referring to Destiny's Child.
Beyonce won five Grammy Awards at the Grammy Awards in 2004 (tying with Alicia Keys, Norah Jones and Lauryn Hill for most Grammys won by a single female artist in one night).
The album has also facilitated her to become one of the marketable artists in the industry.
She appeared on the cover of numerous magazines, guested TV for promotions and has signed lucrative commercial deals.
Beyonce signed to PepsiCo, a conglomerate beverage manufacturer in 2003 and appeared on several TV commercials for its products.
The creative output of the sessions for "Dangerously in Love" left several tracks ready for another album pressing.
In late 2003, Beyonce planned to release a follow-up album that would comprise left-over songs from "Dangerously in Love."
The move was prompted when a P. Diddy-collaboration called "Summertime," (a left-over track from the album) was sent to radio stations and had received Favorable response.
Meanwhile, the success of the album incited the public to infer that it signals Destiny's Child to finally part ways, as had pop singer Justin Timberlake "could not go back to 'N Sync after tasting solo success."
However, Beyonce said that their side projects were only "a brief diversion in the juggernaut that has become Destiny's Child."
As time did not permit, Beyonce's musical aspirations were put on hiatus for her to concentrate on her Super Bowl performance wherein she was slated to sing the U.S. national anthem and the recording of Destiny's Child's fourth album "Destiny Fulfilled." The group finally disbanded in 2005.
After the group's formal disbandment, Beyonce recorded and released her second album "B'Day" on September 4, 2006.
The album gave Beyonce her second number one in the United States and its debut week sales exceeded that of "Dangerously in Love" (the former having sold 541,000 units).
Despite the album's first two singles' average commercial performance—neither of which reached the peak of the Billboard Hot 100—its "handsome debut" was noted by Keith Caulfield of Billboard as having generated "by goodwill earned from the performance of [Beyonce,S] smash first album Dangerously in Love."
- Beyoncé Knowles – lead vocals, producer, executive producer, vocal producer, songwriter
- Nat Adderley, Jr. – producer, arranger, electric piano, string arrangements
- Tawatha Agee – backing vocals
- Vincent Alexander – engineer
- Sanford Allen – concertmaster
- Chuckie Amos – hair stylist
- Skip Anderson – arranger, programming, additional keyboards
- Ray Bardani – string engineer, mixing
- Sherrod Barnes – producer
- Mark Batson – producer, arranger, instrumentation, conductor
- Carlos Bedoya – engineer, vocal engineer
- Big Boi – rap, additional vocal production
- Kevin Bird – prop stylist
- Craig Brockman – co-producer
- John "Jab" Broussard – additional guitar
- Al Brown – string contractor
- Dan Bucchi – assistant mix engineer
- Chris Carmouche – additional engineer
- Jim Caruana – engineer
- Demacio "Demo" Castellon – assistant mix engineer
- Tom Coyne – mastering
- Ian Cuttler – art director
- Dahlen – photography
- Jason Dale – assistant mix engineer
- Makeda Davis – backing vocals
- Delroy "D-Roy" Andrews – producer
- Missy Elliott – rap, producer
- Focus... – producer, engineer, instrumentation
- Guru – engineer
- Phil Hamilton – guitar
- Ivan Hampden – drums
- Rich Harrison – producer, instrumentation
- Andreao "Fanatic" Heard – producer
- Cissy Houston – backing vocals
- James Hunter – graphic artist
- Jay-Z – rap
- Bashiri Johnson – percussion
- Scott Kieklak – mixing
- Markus Klinko and Indrani – photography
- Mathew Knowles – executive producer
- Tina Knowles – stylist
- Brendan Kurtz – assistant mix engineer
- Tony Maserati – mixing
- Errol "Poppi" McCalla, Jr. – producer
- Byron Miller – bass
- Mr. B – producer
- Sean Paul – vocals
- Greg Price – assistant engineer
- Mally Roncal – make-up
- Dexter Simmons – mixing
- Sleepy Brown – vocals
- Matt Snedecor – assistant mix engineer
- Brian Springer – engineer
- Nisan Stewart – co-producer
- Scott Storch – producer
- Candace Thomas – backing vocals
- Pat Thrall – engineer
- Luther Vandross – vocals, vocal arrangement
- Luz Vasquez – assistant mix engineer
- Stan Wallace – engineer
- Brenda White-King – backing vocals
- Theresa LaBarbera Whites – A&R
- Bryce Wilson – producer
- Pat Woodward – assistant mix engineer
- Dan Workman – guitar, engineer