B'Day is the second studio album by American R&B recording artist Beyoncé Knowles, released on September 4, 2006 by Columbia Records in collaboration with Music World Music and Sony Urban Music. It was released to coincide with Knowles' twenty-fifth birthday. The album was originally planned for a 2004 release as a follow-up to her debut album Dangerously In Love (2003). However the project was put on hiatus due to the recording of Destiny's Child's final studio album, Destiny Fulfilled (2004), and her starring role in the film Dreamgirls (2006).
While on vacation after filming Dreamgirls, Knowles began contacting various producers; she rented Sony Music Studios, and completed B'Day in three weeks. Most of the lyrical content of the album was inspired by Knowles' role in the film. The album's musical style ranges from 1970s–80s funk and balladry to urban contemporary elements such as hip hop and R&B. Live instrumentation was employed in recording most of the tracks as part of Knowles' vision of creating a record using live instruments. B'Day Anthology Video Album, which features thirteen music videos to accompany the songs, was released alongside the deluxe edition of B'Day.
The album debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, selling 541,000 copies in its first week, the highest debut-week sales of Knowles. The album has been certified triple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America. It was also successful in international music markets and yielded six singles, including three commercial hits: Déjà Vu, Irreplaceable and Beautiful Liar. Upon its release, B'Day received generally positive reviews from most music critics and has since earned Knowles several accolades, including the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary R&B Album at the 49th Grammy Awards. Knowles embarked on her second solo concert tour in 2007, which she titled The Beyoncé Experience. A live album, The Beyoncé Experience Live, was released which featured footage from the tour.
In 2002, Knowles had productive studio sessions while making her debut album, Dangerously In Love, recording up to forty-five songs. After the release of Dangerously In Love in 2003, Knowles had planned to produce a follow-up album using several of the left-over tracks. However, on January 7, 2004, a spokesperson for her record label, Columbia, announced that Knowles had put her plans on hold in order to concentrate on the recording of Destiny Fulfilled, the final studio album by Destiny's Child, and for her singing of the U.S. national anthem at the Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston, which was a childhood dream of hers. In late 2005, Knowles decided to postpone the recording of her second album because she had landed a lead role in Dreamgirls, a film adaptation of the 1981 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical of the same name. As she wanted to focus on one project at a time, Knowles decided to wait until the movie was completed before returning to the recording studio. Knowles later told Billboard magazine, "I'm not going to write for the album until I finish doing the movie."
While having a month-long vacation after filming Dreamgirls, Knowles went to the studio to start working on the album. She said, "[When filming ended] I had so many things bottled up, so many emotions, so many ideas," prompting her to begin working without telling her father and then-manager, Mathew Knowles. Knowles kept the recording of B'Day somewhat quiet, telling only her artists and repertoire man Max Gousse, and the team of producers they contacted to collaborate for the album. She began working with songwriter-producers Rich Harrison, Rodney Jerkins, Sean Garrett, Cameron Wallace; the Neptunes, Norwegian production duo Stargate, American hip hop producer-rapper Swizz Beatz, and Walter Millsap. Two female songwriters were also included in the production team who helped structure the album: Knowles' cousin Angela Beyincé, who had previously collaborated in Dangerously In Love, and up-and-coming songwriter Makeba Riddick, who made her way onto the team after writing Déjà Vu, the lead single off the album.
Knowles rented the Sony Music Studios in New York City, and was influenced by her husband Jay-Z's method of collaborating with multiple record producers; she used four recording studios simultaneously. She booked Harrison, Jerkins and Garrett, each with a room to work in. During the sessions, Knowles would move from studio to studio to check her producers' progress, later claiming this fostered "healthy competition" among producers. When Knowles conceived a potential song, she would tell the group who would deliberate, and after three hours the song would be created. While Knowles and the team brainstormed the lyrics, other collaborators such as the Neptunes, Jerkins and Swizz Beatz would simultaneously produce the tracks. They would sometimes begin working at eleven o'clock, spending up to fourteen hours a day in the studios during the recording process. Knowles arranged, co-wrote and co-produced all the songs. Makeba Riddick, in an interview with MTV News, recounted her experience in the production:
Beyoncé had multiple producers in Sony Studios. She booked out the whole studio and she had the biggest and best producers in there. She would have us in one room, we would start collaborating with one producer, then she would go and start something else with another producer. We would bounce around to the different rooms and work with the different producers. It was definitely a factory type of process.
B'Day, which is titled as a reference to Knowles' birthday, was completed in three weeks, ahead of the originally scheduled six weeks. Swizz Beatz co-produced four songs for the album, the most from a single producer in the team. Knowles recorded three songs a day, finishing recording within two weeks. Twenty-five songs were produced for the album; ten of the tracks were selected for the track list, and mastered in early July by Brian "Big Bass" Gardner in Los Angeles.