Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’: A Bitter Sweet Love Story
Isaiah K. Hobbs
Yet again, Beyoncé has managed to astonish listeners with her melodious tunes, brilliant concepts, immaculate vocal performances and an intriguingly exquisite visual album. “Lemonade,” Beyoncé’s sixth album, is an hour-long story told through film and music.
“Lemonade’s” set design, costumes and makeup feature aspects of African American culture, ritualistic creole voodoo, enormous southern plantations and desolate areas of land, ultimately setting a tone of darkness and despair, feelings that are naturally associated with the wretchedness and struggles of a failed marriage.
In light of the recent police brutality in the media, Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” conveys a focal point of black empowerment. As it concerns today’s political affairs, “Formation,” a video within the visual album, entails a scene in which police officers are holding up shields that altogether make out three words, “stop killing us.”
Black empowerment is also found within “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” another video on the visual album. In it, the music stops and a Malcom X speech is played. “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.” As Malcom X is speaking, numerous videos of African-American women smiling into the cameras are displayed on the screen. This scene conveys the current success and importance of African-American women, celebrating a race, its history, its culture, its past, its present and its future.
The first song on the album, “Pray You Catch Me,” conveys a theme of innate awareness. “You can taste the dishonesty. It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier.” Here, the singer is essentially stating that she has an awareness concerning the infidelity of her husband, even though his behavior is lacking in consideration and sensitivity towards her emotions.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself,” the third song on the album’s track list, conveys rage. “Who the f*ck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average b*tch boy.” The singer asks her husband who he thinks she is. Not only is she expressing intense rage, she also gives her husband a fair warning in the lyric, “If you try this sh*t again, you gone lose your wife.” The song expresses the wife’s fed-up mentality with her husband’s love-lacking comportment, carelessness and indifference.
“Sorry,” one of the album’s most popular songs, portrays a theme of indifference. According to the lyrics, Beyoncé is behaving in an irreverent manner toward her husband and without shame. She even goes further into clarifying her apathy-filled perception concerning where she and her husband stand with the lyrics, “Don’t give a f*ck! Chuckin’ my deuces up. I had enough.”
Perhaps one of the most relevant songs on the album, “Freedom,” once again conveys the theme of black empowerment. Featuring Kendrick Lamar, the song places an intense focus on overcoming obstacles and pressing on. “I break chains all by myself, won’t let my freedom rot in hell. Imma keep running cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”
At the very end of the song, an inspiring statement is made by Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother. “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.” This powerful quote assists the audience in comprehending the reason as to why the album’s title is “Lemonade.”
Beyoncé seems to be coming back into herself, not the Beyoncé who was portrayed in the last self-titled visual album. “Lemonade” exceeds that of the self-titled album in regard to her vocals, style and the manner in which she conveys her personal issues. “Lemonade,” a bittersweet love story, is brilliant and revolutionary.
Lemonade. (2016). Parkwood Entertainment