Like many music fans, I was interested in checking out Beyoncé’s Lemonade since she unexpectedly dropped the teaser trailer. I loved Formation when it was released in February, so I was definitely looking forward to seeing what Queen Bey had in store with Lemonade.
I had a feeling that this would be a preview of her upcoming album, especially after finding out it was an hour-long special. So like millions of others, I plopped down on my couch on a Saturday evening for the premiere. While I expected to enjoy her visual album, I didn’t expect to be completely blown away by what I saw. This was a visually stunning work of art. Lemonade took me on a roller-coaster journey from pain, anger, and apathy to forgiveness, hope and reconciliation. Infidelity is the main theme here – Beyoncé is a woman who is dealing with the anguish of realizing her husband has cheated on her. In reality very few people other than Beyoncé & Jay-Z know if Lemonade is really about their marriage. But if the latest rumors about Jay-Z making a “response album” are true, it’ll be interesting to hear his perspective.
The album doesn’t just address infidelity. Another major theme is the strength and resilience of black women, who are very much at the center of the film. Historically marginalized, black women in America have had to deal with both racism and misogyny. The visual for Don’t Hurt Yourself – the rawest, angriest track where Bey lashes out at her unfaithful husband – includes the Malcolm X quote about the black woman being the most disrespected, unprotected and neglected person in America. In Forward, we see the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Mike Brown holding up photos of their sons who were killed by the police. We see Beyoncé pay homage to her Southern roots as well as her ancestral African roots with the Nigerian face paint in the video for Sorry. And towards the end we see Jay-Z’s grandmother at her 90th birthday saying that she was given lemons, but made lemonade (which of course is the album’s title).
I bought the album as soon as it became available on iTunes. After listening to it several times over the past couple of weeks I realized something – I love this entire album. I honestly can’t remember the last time I enjoyed an album from start to finish. Of course I have my favorite songs, but I don’t feel the need to skip over anything. Each track seamlessly transitions into the next to create a cohesive story. While watching the visual portion enhances the experience, the audio portion of the album stands well on its own.
Overall – Beyoncé created a classic. She came, she conquered, she slayed.