At only 29 years old, Beyoncé has sold more than 75 million records, received the Billboard Millennium Award and became the first woman ever to headline the UK's famed Glastonbury Festival. Meanwhile, she's got 16 Grammys with her name on it, toured the world for almost a year straight on her "I Am..." tour, and in just the past few weeks alone, in the lead-up to her new album, 4, turned out some game-changing performances on "American Idol," the BET Awards and the Billboard Music Awards. No wonder she needed a little time off, which is exactly what fans get to see in her "Beyoncé: Year Of 4" documentary.
Fittingly, the documentary begins with a black and white shot of Beyoncé floating in the ocean. "I think I'm a mermaid. Or I was a mermaid," she says. "The ocean makes me feel really small, and it puts my whole life into perspective. It humbles you, and grounds you."
Filmed while on a rare year off after the end of her "I Am..." tour, the documentary is a look at Beyoncé relaxing and traveling the world, while simultaneously prepping for the release of her 4 album. Fans get a rare glimpse at the Beyoncé behind the makeup and out of the costumes. It's Beyoncé the thinking woman, who reveals her thought process -- insecurities, reassurances and all -- reasoning her way through tough decisions. Though you might not think such an independent woman would have a hard time being her own boss, Beyoncé, who recently split from her longtime dad-ager Matthew Knowles, candidly addresses her fear of her newfound independence. "It was very risky for me to set out on my own," she says. "It is possible to run your own business... Sometimes we don't reach for the stars, sometimes we are satisfied with what people tell us we're supposed to be satisfied with, and I'm just not going for it."
After taking time off, Beyoncé tackles the conception, writing, production and choreography of her new album. Between scenes documenting grueling rehearsals with her dancers -- some of whom even flew in from Mozambique and brought Beyoncé to tears as she watched them depart the "Run the World (Girls)" video set for the last time) -- we're privy to more tender moments that might otherwise be reserved for private home videos featuring her nephew Juelz and "Uncle Jay." A self-professed workaholic, Beyoncé credits her mom Tina with forcing her to take this much-needed interlude. "I never realized I don't know how to take a year off," reveals Beyoncé, "but you don't want to wake up with no memories."
It's a genuine look at Beyoncé the wife, the daughter, the aunt, the dancer, the superstar, Beyonce the bona fide business woman, and Beyonce, the girl capable of running the world.
+ Watch parts 1 and 2 of "Beyonce: Year of 4" MTV documentary, and watch parts 3 and 4 after the jump!