So much of the Texas spirit is reflected in one of our state’s most beloved quotes. As Davy Crockett allegedly told the Tennessee legislature before setting off down south, “You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas.” There is defiance in it, and the perhaps imprudent confidence that is the backbone of Texas pride. I hear that spirit all over Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter.

On the album, which dropped on March 29, Beyoncé is telling us she gets to do whatever she wants. She hops between genres (country, indie rock, Italian cinema scores, opera, pop, trap, and more) and across decades. (Some of this s— goes back to the nineteenth century, y’all.) This album, like Texas, gives off the sense that everything is contained within its borders. Below, we’ve highlighted more of the reasons why this is already a quintessential Texas album.

As usual, Beyoncé is going on a journey and inviting us to join her. We don’t have to, of course, but if we don’t, we may all go to hell. —Emily McCullar

Willie acts as a benevolent, omnipresent figurehead.

Let’s start with the obvious! Willie plays a unique role on Cowboy Carter—he’s not singing or playing guitar, but he sort of floats above the proceedings as a spirit. As a figure whose country bona fides are downright unimpeachable, he blesses the album and everything she does on it. There are plenty of country bros who’ve tapped Willie for a different effect—inviting him to be on your song is a way to borrow a bit of his credibility and maybe to add some complications to the idea that you’re a Nashville square who doesn’t know where to buy weed. But the way Willie pops up on two interludes as the DJ on Cowboy Carter’s fictional KNTRY radio station feels as if Beyoncé is declaring this album as the biggest-possible big tent. There’s room on it for a ninety-year-old whose time in country music stretches over eight decades; if you can’t find something to dance to at this party, that’s on you, not her. —Dan Solomon

Local radio is given its due.

The DJs at the Oklahoma country radio station that refused to play Beyoncé are probably kicking—sorry, bucking—themselves now. As Bey sings on the opening track, “American Requiem”: “Used to say I spoke, ‘Too country’ / And the rejection came, said ‘I wasn’t country enough’ / Said I wouldn’t saddle up, but / If that ain’t country, tell me what is?” Good thing Bey doesn’t need that radio spot—or any of the country music establishment for that matter. She’s got her own station and it’s in Texas.  —Aaron Boehmer

It’s rooted in the tradition of outlaw country.

The outlaw country movement started when Waylon Jennings and Willie extended their middle fingers to Nashville, came back home to Texas, and had one heck of a good time making the precise music that was in their hearts. Since then, plenty of Nashville dudes have tried to pick up the torch; for the past decade or so, though, “outlaw” has mostly meant a standard-issue country bro who has a beard and who sings what are essentially rock songs with a little bit of twang. Cowboy Carter, to my ears, feels much more like a proper heir to the spirit of the seventies movement.

While Bey has gone out of her way to make the point that this is a Beyoncé album, not a country album, it’s as steeped in the history of the genre as any fourteen-hour Ken Burns documentary. It’s full of elements of country music that have largely been forgotten. Much of the record is subdued and pretty in a way that is decidedly out of fashion in the contemporary Nashville sound. It invokes the gospel music that folks of Willie and Waylon’s generation grew up listening to. It also contains elements of the form that have only recently begun to emerge, in part because of the innovations of young Black country artists Bey invited onto Cowboy Carter, such as Tanner Adell and Willie Jones. The new generation draws from hip-hop in a way that’s much more self-assured than the ham-fisted attempts to occupy the overlap in the Venn diagram between the two.

Cowboy Carter is populated with collaborators who have ties to Nashville but who are, whether by choice or not, outsiders to the genre. There’s Willie, of course, but also Adell and Jones, Miley Cyrus, Post Malone, Linda Martell (the first Black woman to play the Grand Ole Opry), Dolly Parton, and Brittney Spencer. Bey’s choice to use this album to tie herself to them feels like an active decision to stake a claim about where she sees herself in the country music world. Nashville hasn’t put Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton on the radio in a long time, but on KNTRY they’re superstars. That feels like the outlaw spirit to me. —D.S.

It’s got more colorful Texas sayings than you can shake a stick at.

As any true Texan would, Queen Bey made sure to find places throughout her album’s lyrics to make references to the Lone Star state. There’s the titular “Texas Hold ‘Em,” of course, but any Bey-ologist knows she always gathers far more then the low-hanging fruit. Here are a few other allusions we spotted: 

“Booty corn-fed” on “SWEET HONEY BUCKIN'”— a Texas way of saying you’re big and healthy, which Bey, of course, approves of.

Honey” and “sugar” across the album —not solely Texan terms of endearment, but definitely terms a whole lot of Texans use.

“Candy apple green candy paint, swirling twenty-four inch spinners” on “II HANDS II HEAVEN” — shout out to H-Town and Black Texan car culture.

“Everything bigger in Texas” on “DESERT EAGLE”— enough said. —A.B.

Post Malone sings a horny pop song about Levi’s.

Grapevine’s Post Malone is here, y’all. Their track together— “Levii’s Jeans”—is one of the more pleasurable pure pop moments on Cowboy Carter. It’s not particularly country, especially compared to the banjo-plucked tunes scattered throughout, but it pays homage to an indisputable element of cowboy culture: Butts, and how they look in denim. —D.S.

It pays homage to rodeo and The Chitlin’ Circuit. 

On the cover of the album, Beyoncé’s now-signature white Stetson is as big as the Texas sun. Riding with ease on a galloping horse (who the BeyHive, and even a Parkwood executive, named Chardonneigh), she’s suited in leather chaps and a button-down as red, white, and blue as the American flag in her hand is enormous. She’s a rodeo queen, or the queen of her own rodeo, taking you to the hoedown — and sitting you down for a history lesson once you get there. 

One could say Cowboy Carter is actually a shortened version of the album title; the full show, as written across the top of the tracklist poster, is “Cowboy Carter and the Rodeo Chitlin’ Circuit”.  The Chitlin’ Circuit, which Beyoncé goes on to reference again in “YA YA”, has an important history that spans, as Bey sings, “from Texas to Gary / All the way down to New York City”. Subjected to an era of racial segregation, in which the mainstream music industry propped up white-only venues, the Chitlin’ Circuit provided Black performers with community and opportunity at juke joints throughout the eastern, southern, and upper midwest United States  from the 1930s to the 1960s. Notable Texas stops on the circuit included Victory Grill in Austin, The Peacock in Houston, and Eastwood Country Club in San Antonio. The Chitlin’ Circuit gave space for blues, jazz, and soul music to flourish, and eventually led to the birth of rock-and-roll — a genre fans suspect Beyoncé will venture into for Act III. And just as with Act I and now Act II, we can reasonably suspect she will remind us, as she does in “YA YA”, that as far as the Black roots of American music are concerned, “history can’t be erased” — no matter how hard one (or 44 states, including Texas) tries. —A.B.