Collab of the Century

This gay pop star helped Beyoncé write ‘Cowboy Carter’

Cowboy Carter might just be Beyoncé’s greatest album yet, and she didn’t do it alone. Beyond the plethora of outstanding features on the album (Dolly Parton and Miley Cyrus!?), Cowboy Carter had a ton of musical talent behind the scenes, including a gay pop star who lent his songwriting skills to some of the album’s greatest tracks.

Following Cowboy Carter’s release, pop singer Ryan Beatty revealed on Instagram that he wrote on four of the album’s songs: “Protector,” “Bodyguard,” “Just For Fun,” and “II Hands II Heaven.”

“Writing these songs over the last four years has been one of the brightest highlights of my life on earth,” he wrote in the caption. “Beyoncé, you are the greatest there is. Thank you for letting me express myself on something so big and beautiful and important. it feels rare / unreal in the best way. Thank you thank you thank you.”

Beatty’s comments are full of praise from his fans and other artists alike. 

“Very very proud of u Ryan,” wrote Lil Nas X. 

“I was literally streaming protector thinking this sounds like something I’d hear from Ryan Beatty,” reads another comment.

Beatty’s frequent collaborator Kevin Abstract kept it simple with his message of support: “😢❤.”

If you haven’t heard Beatty’s music, prepare to be obsessed. He started as a child star, posting covers to YouTube and rising to internet fame. In 2016, he came out as gay — well, technically he came out as a “raging homosexual” in an iconic Instagram post. “It’s taken 20 years of suffocating in the closet for me to become comfortable enough to say it, but now I can finally breathe,” he continued in the caption. “I did it!”

Two years later, he released his debut album Boy in Jeans, an R&B-infused album encapsulating the queer teen experience. His follow-ups, 2020’s Dreaming of David and 2023’s Calico are equally gorgeous and well worth a listen. His songwriting is Beyoncé-approved, and there’s no greater honor than that. Do yourself a favor and give him a stream.

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