King B: The evolution of Beyonce

"Been the No. 1 diva in this game for a minute … / Every radio 'round the world know me because that's where I be," the queen sings while her impossibly long legs aggressively, fluidly pound a warehouse floor. This is a music video ("Diva") but it's also a visual, self-aware, downright cocky but earned reminder of who runs pop music. This is the Beyoncé experience. We've been treated to it for more than eight years, starting with the release of her debut album, Dangerously in Love, and up to the release of her latest work, 4, out Tuesday. With respect to Lady Gaga, Beyoncé's ascension to pop royalty is special for its traditionalism -- an extraordinary combination of work ethic, songs, swagger and a pristine public image. Meat dresses simply aren't needed. In honor of Beyoncé's fourth album, we salute her with a timeline, just in case anyone had been trapped in a bomb shelter until now. The lesson should be clear -- the Diva always wins. WESLEY CASE, B
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