The lead single of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s surprise new album Everything Is Love is “Apeshit,” and you’ve surely, at the very least, seen the screen cap from its video, of the two lounging at the Louvre in front of the Mona Lisa. “Apeshit,” like much of the album, is a swaggering rap song, one which features cool ad-libs from Quavo and Offset of Migos, who are credited on the song as additional vocalists. Migos appearing on other people’s songs simply as disembodied coos is by now not uncommon—Quavo appears on Childish Gambino’s “This Is America,” and the two were being grafted onto tracks even as an imitation as far back as Usher’s 2014 single “I Don’t Mind”—but their involvement in “Apeshit” went further.
Early on Monday, a full reference track—essentially a demo—recorded by the duo somehow made its way online. Of course, by now you can’t listen to it. The original leak was quickly scrubbed by Universal Music Group, meaning you’ll likely have to embark on a concerted spelunking effort in order to hear it. If you don’t, you’ll basically be missing exactly what you can imagine in your head. Quavo and Offset rap more or less the chorus and pre-chorus you hear on the final version of the song, and Beyoncé’s verses are adapted from theirs. Genius has a rundown of some of the slight changes made by Beyoncé, which is mostly just her upping the shit-talking by emphasizing the unique nature of her wealth.
Here, via Genius, is part of Offset’s verse:
Only danger Whole lot of gangin’
I don’t give a damn about the fame
She a thot that you claim
Can’t be topping my reign
And here is Beyoncé’s version:
Haters in danger (dangerous) Whole lot of gangin’ (gang)
35 chains (chains, chains)
I don’t give a damn ‘bout the fame (nope)
G8 planes (tshh, tshh)
Alexander Wang (woo!)
She a thot that you claim (woo!)
Can’t be toppin’ my reign (c’mon, c’mon, c’mon)
Whether Migos’ original is better than the gilded Carters version is very much in the eye of the beholder—one feels more natural, the other more kinetic. To me, the Migos version emphasizes that Beyoncé rapping is basically Michael Jordan playing baseball: it’s kind of interesting as a spectacle, but she’s below-average at it and the best in the world at the thing she normally does. Thankfully, I think she’ll be back at that soon.