After more than two decades in the spotlight, Beyoncé has become much more than a pop icon. She’s a cultural force who has routinely defied expectations and transformed the way we understand the power of art to change how we see ourselves and each other. But at 40, she feels like she’s just scratched the surface.
Women born at the dawn of the 1980s were among the last generation to live an analog life and the first to see themselves reimagined in digital. Beyoncé’s childhood coincided with the rise of home-recording equipment—video cameras, stereo systems that let you record your own voice, keyboards that let you find whatever sound you wanted, personal computers to synthesize it all. The girls before her had mirrors and the echoes of the trees and magazines with cartoon approximations to reflect themselves. Her generation was the first to regularly experience the dizzying accuracy of playback. It could be a destabilizing force; there’s your voice as you think it sounds, and then your voice when it comes back to you, after you’ve hit Record.