One of the most recognizable figures in contemporary music, Beyoncé rose to fame as the central member of pop-R&B group Destiny's Childbefore embarking on a multi-platinum, record-breaking solo career in 2001. Booming record sales, Grammy awards, movie roles, and marriage to rapper/CEO Jay-Z combined to heighten her profile in the 2000s. Billboard named her female artist of the decade, while the RIAA acknowledged that, through 64 gold and platinum certifications, she was the decade's top-selling artist. Once she released her fifth solo album in 2013, it was evident that the singer, songwriter, and dancer wasn't merely an entertainer but a progressive artist as well.
Giving birth to Blue Ivy Carter in January 2012 didn't slow her down. Within a few months, she was performing in Atlantic City, and she later appeared at President Barack Obama's second inauguration. Joined byMichelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, she headlined the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show. Life Is But a Dream, a documentary, first aired on HBO in February 2013, and was followed by appearances on albums byRowland, the-Dream, and Jay-Z. New material, such as "Bow Down" and "Standing on the Sun," trickled out without proper release. Then, on December 13 -- with no preceding announcement -- Beyoncé released a self-titled album, with accompanying videos, via iTunes. Her husband and daughter, along with Drake, Frank Ocean, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (via a sampled TED talk), made guest appearances. Knowles, assisted by the likes of Hit-Boy, Pharrell, Timbaland, Justin Timberlake, and Miguel, co-wrote and co-produced the majority of the album's material. Like Beyoncé's four previous solo albums, it went to number one, and it quickly went platinum in the U.S.