In a very smart TV move, HBO decided to air Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade and the first episode of Game of Thrones Season 6 on the same night, thus ensuring that no one was watching anything else last night.
The dispute here is not that Beyoncé’s album is good. It is. It is raw and emotive; at times playful, and times broken, all powerful. She encapsulates the path a woman’s heart takes upon betrayal with every step she takes.
Each song/spoken word piece is divided into segments, some of her own work, and some of Warsan Shire’s evocative poetry – Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, and Redemption, respectively.
ELOQUENT, EXUISITELY SIMPLE WORDS
The wordings are eloquent and exquisitely simple at the same time; easily relatable to what any woman who has been cheated on would go through – from questioning whether the affair is happening, to anger on the level of smashing cars, to irritation and moving on.
For example, somewhat morbidly, she says ‘If it’s what you truly want/I can wear her skin over mine’, indicating a sweet and bloody revenge. In another verse she says ‘Keep your money/I’ve got my own/…/you ain’t trying hard enough/You ain’t
loving hard enough’, and one of my favourites –
This is your final warning
You know I give you life
If you try this ish again
You gon’ lose your wife
But eventually, as she moves through the stages, she forgives the man who wronged her and looks forward, remembering the good times and creating more memories as is evidenced by clips of the happy family.
The visual album is indeed interspersed with several clips, from Martin Luther King Jr.’s speeches to Beyoncé’s childhood with her father, to her wedding day.
Love was stronger than your pride
Beyond your darkness I’m your light
As we have come to expect, Beyoncé’s album is shot wonderfully, with thoughtful direction in all aspects, from the tones and saturation used with each song, to costume (she pays homage, as she is wont to do, to her Southern roots, and then wears an Ankara dress for almost the last half of the album, while in between wearing clothing reminiscent of Nefertiti and Nigerian goddess Oshun), to wording, to little details like the fact that the baseball bat she wields with such glee is inscribed with the words, ‘Hot Sauce’, a nod to her hit single ‘Formation’ where she sings ‘I got hot sauce in my bag/swag/’.
And then, of course, we see cameos from important figures of black strength, also known as #BlackGirlMagic: Quvenzhane Wallis, Zendaya, Amanda Stenberg and the exceptionally gifted Serena Williams, just to name a few, supporting the slayage. It’s a good album and it will hold up to a second listen.
The dispute for me, is, did Jay-Z actually cheated or this was a publicity stunt? Though either way it is none of my business (although now that it is in the public eye…)…it feels like too many incidents tied together to be a random coincidence (the elevator debacle with Solange, what Rachel Roy, the alleged sidepiece, wrote on her Instagram, etc.), almost scripted. Was this all for Tidal to blow up? Well-engineered PR? We’ll never know. Jay-Z does make an appearance on the album though, so maybe all’s rosy in Beyville again. I question the motives – because if it really happened then that just makes this even more powerful, but if it didn’t, it definitely takes away from it. What I do know, is that this is Beyoncé’s most personal and lyrically rich work yet.