“You can taste the dishonesty…it’s all over your breath…as you pass it off so cavalier…but even that’s a test…constantly aware of it all…my lonely ear…pressed against the walls of your world…(Pray You Catch Me)”
Beyonce has once again come crashing into our lives with her highly anticipated visuals and album Lemonade. It is reportedly about a woman’s journey for self-discovery and healing. It’s the next level in an already ridiculously high level of artistry.
It all began with the HBO event, which no one was quite sure what would be. Would it be a movie? Or a musical? It was both and yet neither. Lemonade the hour long movie/collection of videos, premiered and was more than anyone expected. It chronicled a difficult journey of womanhood through intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability, reformation, forgiveness, and resurrection. There are so many profound declarations in the music and poetry. The story follows through infidelity, separation, reconciliation, forgiveness, and a new beginning. Some have assumed it to be autobiographical. What is clear that she deals with her struggles dealing with her father’s problems in his relationship with her mother. The visuals are very southern, having taken place in New Orleans. It gets a bit dark at some points, even slightly scary, but overall it is beautiful.
As always, Beyonce has uplifting, empowering songs and visuals for women. It deals with relationships, achievement, and the legacy of strong women raising other strong women. It is a celebration of Black womanhood and it’s traditions. The music is also as strong as it has ever been. They tell stories that people can relate too and even make some powerful statements. It features poetry by Warsan Shire. The visuals push these themes across perfectly. It will take a long time to decode all of the subtleties in the visuals. Beyonce and her team ingenious. There are even some clear influences of Prince, may he rest, as well as samples of Isaac Hayes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Outkast, and even Soulja Boy. There are some new phrases that will be everywhere, including on clothing no doubt. They also feature some allstars who make the cycle complete. From personal clips of her husband and daughter, to appearances by Serena Williams, Quvenzhane Wallis, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya, Lisa Kainde, Naomi Diaz, Chloe and Halle Bailey, and the mothers of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Eric Garner. She collaborates with Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar.
Okay, now that we’ve got the logistics out of the way, let’s talk about the feel of it. First of all, Beyonce is reviving a time when music was an event. Like when people ran to the TV to see the premiere of the Thriller video. Premiering Lemonade on HBO the way she did created a sense of excitement and a shared experience between fans. People made sure to stay in, get HBO if they didn’t have it, and even have viewing parties to see what Beyonce had in store for us. It’s that level of excitement that makes Beyonce like few other artists. Then the actual visuals themselves evoked so many different emotions. Watching for the first time and trying to see where Bey was going to take us was an absolute delight. With each twist and turn it was as if we were on a rollercoaster. I felt triumphant, sad, reflective, joyous, amused, and most of all, I felt empowered. She continued to speak on liberation and Black Lives Matter in the track Freedom, but she also gave us a few anthems to empower ourselves and help us deal with hardships in our relationships. Then she puts us in touch with our ancestors. They were constantly handed lemons, in life’s different horrors and struggles, but somehow they were able to make lemonade. The spirit of hope is definitely there. Not only is Beyonce a Black woman at the top of her field who continues to innovate and take her career and artistry to new heights, but she is also allowing for vulnerability and insight into where her strength comes from. It makes me want to be as amazing and strong as I can be, but still allows for my flaws and sensitivities. It is like the perfect storm.
Everything about it was top notch and oh so necessary. I had been having a rough couple of days trying to process the loss of Prince. Losing a legend of that magnitude and taking the time to go back through his artistry left a feeling of lack. It was like the end of an era. Then Beyonce came through and lifted it all back up and showed us what artistry there still was. I did not get to grow up during the premiere of Purple Rain or Thriller or things like that. But living in the era of Bey, having watched her for nearly 20 years, is magical. The music, the imagery, everything about it is incredible to experience. I cannot wait to see her live.
Lemonade is available exclusively on Tidal, for now. Word is that the album will be available everywhere after 48 hours. It will be re-running on HBO later on tonight. Check your local listings. In the mean time, either get Tidal or happy waiting. Whichever way you go, know that whenever you see and hear Lemonade it will be phenomenal. Thank you Beyonce for another sensational piece of artistry.