She is back. But there is something else that lingers. Her anger is clear. With the release on HBO on Saturday, April 26, audiences were not prepared for what Beyonce had in store for the world. In a visual album entitled Lemonade, she bares it all as she makes it clear that even the most famous couple in hip-hop has their problems.
“Intuition” is the first step through created in the visual album that would take the world by storm, just days before the start of her world tour. She harmonizes with the bass as it moves through the melody of “Pray You Catch Me.”
Beyonce walks through a cornfield adorning a black sweat jacket as if it were a blanket of security. She is contemplating something as she whispers the words, “I pray I catch you whispering/I pray you catch me listening.” As she takes a step off a ledge with ease, she falls into a room full of water as she undresses from her black garb, looking down on herself sleeping so peacefully.
The journey through emotion has begun as “Denial” appears. Beyonce’s voice takes over with no music to support her. She moves through Somali-British poet Warsan Shire’s poem, “For women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” The dark and eerie journey through 11 stages of the emotional rollercoaster the world calls love is not one to be taken lightly.
In the poem, first introduced to the world by Warsan herself, she speaks of a woman who is not as simple as many would hope. “His body just a long shadow seeking yours/but you are always too intense/frightening in the way you want him/unashamed and sacrificial,” she speaks with clarity.
She continues to describe the woman she believes he is looking for, saying, “tried to be softer/ prettier/less volatile/less awake.” “Hold Up” addresses a unique and unconditional love that can only be seen as the love that lovers form for the person they want to spend the rest of their lives with. With love comes pain. Anger is seen as the child of denial as Beyonce raises her head, leaning against a Tahoe in a fur coat that will be remembered by millions as a truly evolutionary moment in her career. As she throws her arms at the camera, with her skin glistening against the olive of her two-piece, her words reflect an anger that cannot be camouflaged.
Jack White, lead guitarist and singer of The White Stripes, reminds the subject of her anguish in “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” The track is one of the most aggressive and raw songs of the album as it sets a new tone for the image Beyonce has reimagined for herself. “You can watch my fat ass twist, boy/as I bounce to the next dick, boy,” she yells at the screen as it cuts to her in what appears to be a red wedding dress. “Bad motherfucker/God complex/motivate your ass/call me Malcolm X,” she raps as the frame cuts to African-American women, as Malcolm X’s voice rings in the background from the speech he gave on May 5, 1962 at a funeral service for Ronald Stokes.
Her use of his speech goes where she has not gone prior to the release of “Formation.” No longer feeling bound by her image, she brings her opinion of the current social climate in America, as Malcolm X says, “The most disrespected woman in America is the black women. The most unprotected woman in America is the black woman.”
Versatility in appearance is something Beyonce is unfamiliar with; however, she demonstrates vocal versatility by using vocal styles from other dominant genres to create her masterpiece. “Daddy’s Lesson,” incorporates Beyonce’s Texan roots and country music vibes to tell the story of what many would see as the creation of one of the most influential people of our generation.
“Forward” brings calm to the storm that has brewed thus far on the album. A shadow lingers, as the frame shows mothers, daughters and granddaughters of the black men who have been affected by the social climate in the United States. Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, shakes her head as she adorns the beautiful black dress that reflects her African ancestry and a tear of loss rolls down her cheek. James Blake’s accent rings heavy as he pleads, “Forward,” as Beyonce rings in his background, harmonizing as confirmation to the change they both believe in.
Beyonce’s ability to cultivate a culture and reproduce it as her own has pushed her to a new level of power and artistry. The visual album has allowed her to paint a picture that listeners are often forced to paint on their own when albums release. The cinematography pushed its creative aspect to break new ground in the music industry.
Her power and her honesty opened up a new era for the Beyhive. Lemonade is a token to the women who cannot speak, the women who do not speak and those who refuse to sit down. With such a beautifully written and visual album, no one can get enough of Beyonce.