The Beyonce Album Lemonade Has Everyone Guessing….

Beyoncé & Jay Z May 4, 2015

Beyoncé & Jay Z at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Benefit Gala on May 4, 2015.

The superstar artist Beyoncé released her new visual album, called Lemonade, this past weekend – and the news has been explosive ever since!  Initially the album shown as an HBO special.  After that it was released via the subscription streaming music service Tidal – owned by her husband, Jay Z.  

For those who didn’t have Tidal, well, they had to wait for Monday to get the album on itunes.  This was the teaser sent out by HBO:

 

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB5zLq1zcdo?rel=0]

 

Provocative in both its words and imagery, the full album has more than lived up to the hype!  Reviews of Lemonade have been phenomenal, with many calling it her best work to date. The best snapshot view of the album that I’ve read comes from Variety:

The strength and perseverance of women was the dominant theme. The quick cuts offered snippets of everything from New Orleans jazz funerals and Mardi Gras Indians to young African-American men riding in a car discussing death to Beyoncé lying distraught on the gridiron in an empty football stadium.

Yes, the album is about a women’s power and strength in the face of all kinds of adversity – including men that cheat.  Things being what they are, many are viewing it as being about the power and strength of Beyoncé dealing with her husband.  The New York Times  knew exactly what was to come.

On their own, the songs can be taken as one star’s personal, domestic dramas, waiting to be mined by the tabloids. But with the video, they testify to situations and emotions countless women endure. It’s not a divorce announcement; the singer, songwriter and director is credited as Beyoncé Knowles Carter.

Sure enough, there have been tabloids reporting on all sorts of possibilities of whom Jay Z was cheating with, and Bevhive – Beyoncé’s huge online fandom has been all over it.   It’s kind of sad, because even if the album came out of such a painful experience, the album is so beyond being some kind of rapper’s revenge piece.

Over at Bustle they’ve taken the time to write out the lyrics to the entire album.  It reads like a Ntozake Shange piece, with poetry that is at times sharp, direct, and accusatory.   At other times  the words create beautifully rounded imagery.  Sadness and hope lay side by side, as in these lyrics from the song, “Anger”:

I don’t know when love became elusive. What I know is, no one I know has it. My father’s arms around my mother’s neck, fruit too ripe to eat. I think of lovers as trees … growing to and from one another. Searching for the same light.

What is most striking about these album as a whole is that it suggests a long journey.  This is why it’s amusing that so many people are looking at Jay Z.  The words of her songs are such a progression back in time.  Even if it is referencing Beyoncé’s life, the woman had a life before Jay Z walked into in.  Like, is Jay Z is the only man that’s she’s ever been involved with and thus the only possible choice to have lied, cheated and broken her heart?  

Besides, even if it is somehow about Jay Z and some woman with good hair the story being told is art, not autobiography.  With Lemonade Beyoncé is telling a visual and musical story of black woman living, loving, hurting, dealing, and rebuilding in this world.  Who Jay Z did or did not sleep with is not the point. 

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