Beyoncé never really appealed to me. Sure, I saw why she has a dedicated fan base: she frequently drops songs that light up parties (think “Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It)”), and occasionally more profound ones (think “Halo”). She also happens to possess tremendous vocal ability. Still, I didn’t quite understand the craze…until last weekend.
It was just another Saturday night, or so I thought. I was taking it easy, chilling with friends in my room, ready to go out for the night. I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed when a post popped up, “Beyoncé releases Lemonade. Features Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, Jack White, and James Blake.” The subtitle read, “and it’s a Tidal exclusive.” I had a few different thoughts when I read this.
First, “seriously Jay Z, are you going to make us all suffer because of Tidal… AGAIN?” Second, “oh wow, that’s quite an impressive list of featured artists.” Third, “I have to listen to this…now.” I wanted to hear it more for Kendrick than for Beyoncé. I proposed the idea of listening to this album to everyone in the room, and there was a unanimous agreement. I spent 45 minutes trying to figure out how to score another free Tidal trial, and when I finally managed to do so, I thought that there was no way the album would be worth all the effort I just put in. I am so glad I was wrong. We went through the entire album in one sitting and thought it was incredible. Now, as we were all getting ready to leave for the rest of the night, I glanced over at Tidal—that is when I noticed the video for the album that is over an hour long. Instead of leaving, I proposed that we watch the video. Blown away by the audio of the album just moments ago, we unanimously agreed to watch.
This is when my mind was blown.
Lemonade is an auditory and visual masterpiece. It is abstract in its visuals but very down to earth in the audio. Despite her superstardom, Beyoncé is able to create a love story that most of us can relate to; it is the story of a person coming to grips with the fact that he or she has been cheated on. The video is divided into the different emotions one feels after being cheated on, ranging from anger to reconciliation. While watching this video, I felt my emotions being swayed by the music. It felt almost as if Beyoncé was toying with the viewer’s emotions.
Highlights of the album include an angsty collaboration with Jack White, “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a collaboration with The Weeknd that has just been waiting to happen, “6 inch,” Beyoncé showing off her vocal mastery on “Sandcastles,” and even a political collaboration with Kendrick Lamar in “Freedom.”
Additionally, the album is also a symbol of black excellence and feminism. Beyoncé is often revered as an icon of feminism—this is put on full display on this album. Scattered across the album are excerpts of Beyoncé reciting beautiful poetry by Warsan Shire, a 26-year-old British-Somali woman. These poems speak to the experiences associated with being a black woman, and each one of these poems are extremely thought provoking. Additionally, the majority of the people present in the video are black women. These women include figures such as the mother of Trayvon Martin holding a picture of her son, and tennis titan Serena Williams. There is one extremely significant male present in the video though, Shawn Carter; better known by his stage name: Jay Z.
Towards the second half of the album it becomes clear that this album is not only profane and political, but it is also incredibly personal. This is first evident when Jay Z makes an appearance in the emotion-filled track “Sandcastles.” An image that stands out is that of Jay Z laying at Beyoncé’s heels, almost as if to apologize. Clearly, this album is inspired by struggles the couple has encountered throughout their marriage. Beyoncé does what no former rap titan has been able to do: destroy Jay Z. She is the rap Superman’s kryptonite.
Overall, Lemonade is absolutely brilliant. Now it’s just a matter of time before Queen B sweeps the Grammy Awards.