“Art is the unapologetic celebration of culture through self express.” – Beyonce
Beyonce “shocked the world” when she dropped her self titled fifth album in the middle of a December night in 2013. There was an effortlessness and about her very first visual album. It seemed so effortless that I knew, even then, it wouldn’t be her last. For as many fans as she has, Beyonce lost a few of them when she made the decision to begin to assert her creative freedom. Beyonce seemed like an unborn baby. Her next album would be the birth.
Last night Queen Bey released her sixth body of work via an hour long HBO special. Like Beyonce, the album that she titled Lemonade is also a visual album. But for me, outside of her fearlessness, that’s where the comparisons end. As good as Lemonade is, it didn’t feel effortless at all. In fact, it seemed methodical. It felt like every single image and every single line was strategic and meant to send specific messages. Messages about love and betrayal, pain and healing, insecurity and confidence, imprisonment and freedom; emotions and feelings that through a naked eye only seemed to be directed at Beyonce’s husband, Jay-Z.
Intuition. “You can taste the dishonesty. It’s all over your breath.”
Denial. “I tried to change, closed my mouth more, tried to be soft, prettier, less awake.”
Anger. “Who the f*ck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch boy”….“If you try this shit again, you gon lose your wife.
Apathy. “Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks”…”suck my balls pause”
Emptiness. “She sleeps all day, dreams of you in both worlds…Grief, sedated by orgasm. Orgasm heightened by grief.”
Accountability. “Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god? Did you get on your knees daily? “
Reformation. “Why do you deny yourself heaven? Why do you consider yourself undeserving? Why are you afraid of love? You think it’s not possible for someone like you. But you are the love of my life.”
Forgiveness. “Now that reconciliation is possible, if we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.”
Resurrection. “It’s time to listen, it’s time to fight.”
Hope. “I break chains all by myself. I’mma keep running cause winners don’t quit on themselves.”
Redemption. “My grandma said, nothing real can be threatened. True love brought salvation back into me. With every tear came redemption and my torturer became my remedy. So we’re gonna heal, we’re gonna start again.”
The masses are attempting to connect the dots between the elevator fight between Beyonce’s sister Solange and Jay-Z which was rumored to have been about some sort of affair between the rapper and designer Rachel Roy. After the special aired, Roy added fuel to the already doused fire with this Instagram post.
The post has been deleted, but the BeyHive is on attack in Roy’s comments and the questions remained unanswered. Did Jay-Z cheat on Beyonce? Would Bey really put her marital issues on front street this way? Are the Carter’s divorcing? Maybe…maybe not. But this album is about more that Beyonce and Jay-Z. This album is also about strength and vulnerability, anger and forgiveness, courage and triumph; emotions that the world seem to believe can not healthily co-exist in the heart and soul of a black woman. From a rumored cheated on Beyonce and the labeled “angry black woman” Michelle Obama to the mothers of boys who have had to bury their sons at the hand of those who are supposed to protect, black women have taken lemons and found a way to make lemonade. That is what this album is about.
As far as the album’s success, the jury is still out how well it will do on the charts. But one person who is proud of Beyonce’s message of healing and hope is her mother, Tina Lawson, who herself made lemonade after being served the sour lemon of infidelity from her former husband and Beyonce’s father Matthew Knowles.
Lemonade the film and Lemonade the album are both available exclusively on Tidal.