Beyonce Releases Lemonade: Beyonce Releases her Sixth Studio Album and Second Visual Album, Lemonade.
With the impact of songs like “Bow Down” and “Pretty Hurts” still fresh in our minds from the release of her 2013 chart topping self-titled visual album “BeyoncÃ©”, it’s hard to believe that it’s been 3 years since Beyonce has debuted a new album. This all changed on April 23rd, as the artist released her sixthÂ studio album, “Lemonade”, online at 10p.m., immediately following an exclusive hourlong premiere of the “visual album” version. As usual, media and fans alike are in a frenzy speculating the hidden meaning behind the artist’s latest bittersweet motif.
Earlier this year, Beyonce started quite a social riot with the release of her culturally charged single and video for, “Formation”. An apparent departure from the artist’s usual more subdued statements, Formation offered a glimpse at a more socially aware Beyonce and the media certainly took note. With reactions ranging from positive cultural affirmations from various groups to the highly publicized boycott of BeyoncÃ© by various police departments, the influential entertainer’s enlightened voice seems to have divided a seemingly unified post-political audience.
“You can taste the dishonesty/It’s all over your breath” are the first words she sings in her opening single, “Pray You Catch Me,” and from that very moment she has us by our hearts, and she knows it. The progression of songs in both their lyrical and visual capacity possess a newfound struggle that has yet to be seen in the artist’s past efforts. Sure, we have iconic songs like “Survivor” from the Destiny’s Child days and even newer power anthems including “Single Ladies” and more recently “Jealous”, yet still nothing has it us as hard as this.
With its seemingly unscripted provocation, a flurry of rumors have already began flooding the album’s young release. At the fulcrum ofÂ the artist’s perceived artistic fuel is that of her very real marriage with hip-hop mogul and Roc-a-fella records CEO Jay-Z. If we are to take Beyonce’s lyrical confessions for truth, Mrs. Carter may just be at her breaking point with the mogul’s past incidents of infidelity. “This is your final warning/If you try this sh*t again, you gone lose your wife”, Beyonce sounds off in a convincing final message before subtly flipping the script.
Moving past the obvious implications of the artist’s sixth studio album, there is still much to be said about Lemonade. Touching us with notes of literary genius, accentuated by poetry from young Somali-British writer Warsan Shire, we unknowingly join the progression of a much larger story. Beyonce reaches beyond the confines of simply being an entertainer and into the cultural thrust of a shared experience, an experience amongst women – black women particularly. One that she found that is just as much her own as it is her mother’s and her mother’s mother as well. Perhaps her message was no more poignant than in the middle of “Don’t Hurt Yourself” – in which the music abruptly stops and we’re haunted with the voice of Malcolm X as he proclaims, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
Beyonce goes on to build upon her feelings, while revealing the meaning behind the album’s title. “Take 1 pint of water, add a half pound of sugar, the juice of 8 lemons, the zest of half a lemon, pour the water from one jug into the other several times. Strain through a thin napkin. Grandmother, the alchemist. You spun gold out of this hard life. Conjured beauty from the things left behind. Found healing where it did not live. Discovered the antidote in your own kitchen. Broke the curse with your own two hands. You passed the instructions down to your own daughter. Then she passed it down to her daughter.” The dialogue goes on to include a video of Jay-Z’s grandmother at her 90th birthday, at which she exclaims, “I was served lemons— and I made lemonade.”
For those who thought that Jay-Z was completely on the wrong side of a scorned BeyoncÃ©, the artist offered a surprising resolution, even featuring a cameo of the controversial “99 problems” evangelist himself. As the visuals and the singer’s ebb of emotions suggest, there is still hope for redemption. A powerful and surprisingly resolute departure from the usual, “To the Left” singer.
Queen Bey put her production mastery to work as well arranging collaborations from artists across musical genres. The lineup including leading artist’s Kendrick Lamar, The Weeknd, James Blake, and Jack White as well as emerging talent Wynter Gordon, Kevin Garrett, and Ghanian singer Ruby Amanfu, a member of Jack White’s all-female band, The Peackocks).
So what’s the verdict – Is Lemonade a play by play visual journey based on the marital strife of Beyonce and husband Jay-Z or it just a catalyst, a story partially based on real events but serving a greater purpose? Perhaps we’ll never know the true meaning of the artist’s bittersweet musical epitaph, but what we have gained is affected nonetheless. “Mother dearest, let me inherit the earth. Teach me how to make him beg. Let me make up for the years he made you wait. 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? Did his eyes close like doors? Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about your husband, or you father?” This is certainly a conversation to be continued, one that has just began. Well done, Queen Bey.
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