Following the success of Beyoncé’s self-titled album that achieved platinum certification across the globe, on the 23rd April she released her new album, Lemonade, as a feature length film on HBO, available to stream on Tidal, and shortly after available for purchase on iTunes. Arguably her best album yet, the LP tells the story of infidelity. Despite being a very personal album, it also describes the plight of the black woman, the visual album even quoting Malcolm X, leader of the Black Panther Party: "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." An album of two halves, it begins by describing feelings of anger and betrayal, before describing the process of forgiveness for the sake of family.
Beyoncé herself is credited as a producer on every track, and the second track, Hold Up, also features Ezra Koenig and Diplo as producers. She collaborates with Joshua Tillman, which is certainly an interesting collaboration and makes for a sound that gives off very Reggae vibes. The song is an anthem to the kind of ‘calm-crazy’, represented within the visual album through Beyoncé skipping along a pavement, smiling, with a baseball bat in hand, smashing the windows of cars she passes.
On the sixth track of the album Beyoncé proves once again how talented she is by entering the country genre with Daddy Lessons, an ode to her late father. She gives us a small look into her relationship with her father, and the advice he gave her before his death. The song is particularly interesting as her father, Matthew Knowles, had been her manager up until March 2011, before she fired him. One of the suggested reasons for this was his infidelity to her mother, Tina Knowles, which some people argue is what the entire album describes; however, more likely, it touches upon both her father’s and her husband’s infidelity.
Freedom is one of those tracks that makes you want to get up and move, with themes similar to Superpower from her previous album, and a sound more akin to the Beyoncé we are used to. Featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar, the song has Beyoncé proclaiming that “I break chains all by myself,” something that rings very true if one considers the role model she has been for young black girls across the world facing racism, and pressure to look and act a certain way.
The penultimate song, and first single off the album, is All Night, my personal favourite. The song speaks of a great emotional maturity and takes the form of a more upbeat love ballad. “Give you some time to prove that I can trust you again”, she asks of husband of 8 years, Jay-Z, demonstrating that Beyoncé is willing to allow him another chance.
The final track of the album, one that has caused some controversy, is Formation. An anthem to the Black Power movement, Beyoncé calls out those who throw claims, sincere or otherwise, of her being a part of the ‘Illuminati’, a taunt that is often used to bring down successful black people. ‘Queen Bey’ refers to daughter Blue Ivy in the line “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros”. The two types of black hairstyles she refers to have recently garnered mainstream popularity with the appropriation of black culture by celebrities such as Kylie Jenner. The music video and her Superbowl performance demonstrated Beyoncé’s strong support of the Black Lives Matter movement – many people argued that it is not right for her to be making such bold political statements, and she should just stick to singing. However, I believe it is commendable for people in such positions to use their voices to call attention to important issues, especially with such awful ongoing police brutality in America. Lemonade is very much the closest to contemporary genius we have seen in the music industry this decade, and I am sure that this album has made a difference in the lives of many black people still fighting against an oppressive system.
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