[Album Review] Beyonce – “Lemonade”

 

 

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Grammy award winning singer, Beyoncé released a visual album via HBO on April 23rd. This is the singer’s sixth studio album release, and the album is called Lemonade. There is a plethora of producers/songwriters credited so let’s just skip all of the pleasantries, and get into this review shall we?

 

It’s only appropriate to break down this visual album from the 11 parts and title cards: Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, and Redemption.


 

Intuition: “Pray You Catch Me” has great harmonies all the way through. The imagery of her jumping off the building, and landing deep into water was powerful. The poetry was very riveting (Warsan Shire), especially during the camera effects. It felt like the water represented her feelings, like she was drowning in the unknown or possibility of infidelity. The symbolism of her opening the doors felt like she realized her intuition was right, and then it leads into “Hold Up”. Maybe the smiling while she’s breaking the windows of the car, meant she had to cover-up her feelings of betrayal in public. All of it a mask of emotions, until it boils over and it’s going to full rage with her in the monster truck.

Anger: The Led Zeppelin sample was well placed in “Don’t Hurt Yourself”, the song is co-written with Jack White. She’s expressing full anger in this song, with her belting after the chorus. It’s very befitting that the song had a rock element to it, and a reggae, off-shoot as well. The best part was the iconic sound bite of the late Malcolm X.

“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.”

 

Apathy: There were some haunting words being said in the poetry going into “Sorry”. Didn’t really know what to expect with this scene. There was resonating imagery of her, and other black women on the bus with tribal paint. There was a cameo of the tennis player Serena Williams. It’s a braggadocios song, not really a lyrical highlight from the album—it still has high replay value.

Emptiness: “6 Inch” was another video you couldn’t really anticipate what was fixing to happen. A very Gothic, scary-movie, type of visual with the red light effect. You could almost expect a Jay Z look-alike head cut off on a plate, because of how intense the video was. Not really being a fan of The Weeknd’s singing voice. That being said, his hook-line on the song was tolerable. The Issac Hayes “Walk On By” sample was well placed. The lyrics are talking about a stripper in 6 inch heels, and everything she goes through to make money. The imagery of the burning door at the end of the video symbolized the emptiness. The video entirely is open for one’s own interpretation.

Accountability: A country song with a little bit of New Orleans jazz flavored instrumentation with the horns, the imagery and song seemed like it was addressing the black broken families. Also, how the black woman historically has been effected by the absence of the black man.

Reformation: The entire visual part of “Love Drought” is so deeply moving. Owning My Truth’s breakdown of this video, gives it way more justice then this post ever could.

 

Forgiveness: “If we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.”

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The focus on the vinyl of the late legend Nina Simone at the beginning of “Sandcastles”, gave a real perspective of the influence of this album. This ballad was emotionally moving. The imagery of her at the keyboard playing, and showing the vulnerability and levels of intimacy between her and her husband Jay Z. The slight voice cracking really showed the depths within her voice, and brought the lyrics to life.

Resurrection: Songwriter/singer James Blake is featured on the song “Forward”. His vocals brought the imagery of the mothers Sabrina FultonLesleyMcSpadden, and others holding up pictures of the victims of police brutality to emotional heights. (Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown)

Hope: The important focus of “Freedom” in the video was how she featured all of these young successful black women. A vocal/lyrical stand-out from the entire album. The entirety of this visual seemed to invoke a message of love, and unifying the youth is the key to strengthening the black community. The song is featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar

Redemption: “All Night” felt like it was giving an anecdote for mending the black family. The words and wisdom from the grandmother’s 92nd birthday footage brought the albums’ concept together of how our elders have made lemonade of the lemons of life they were giving. The video highlighted all different varieties of loving couples, as well as footage of Beyoncé and her family. Loved the bass line in this song, and also the Outkast “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” sample.

 

“True love brought salvation back into me. With every tear came redemption. My torturer became my remedy.”


Beyoncé debuting this visual album on HBO shows she feels very comfortable, and passionate about expressing herself visually with art.  Of course, this album speaks from her personal life. The bigger picture of this album seemed to be reflective not only in her marriage, but how black love or the lack of it effects the black community. When she’s consistent with her unapologetic love of her blackness, femininity, and family; you can expect authentic growth of her musical expressions.