Leave it to Beyoncé to set the new standard for album releases. Back in 2013, the universal star released her self-titled project literally out of nowhere, with no prior promo or marketing; now, it’s become somewhat the norm. Yesterday, she took the art of surprise another step further by preceding her latest — titled Lemonade — with a thought-provoking, powerful and very introspective video that encapsulates the entire album. And boy, did we learn some things from this new release.
Firstly, one thing about Beyoncé’s personal life is made very clear on many of Lemonade‘s cuts in abrasive fashion — that of her relationship to husband JAY Z, and his alleged (at this point, we would say confirmed) affair during. Here’s an example from ‘Sorry’:
Looking at my watch, he shoulda been home
Today I regret the night I put that ring on
He always got them f***ing excuses
I pray to the Lord you reveal what his truth is
Big homie better grow up
Me and my whoadies ’bout to stroll up
He only want me when I’m not there
He better call Becky with the good hair
Or the Jack White-featured and co-produced ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’:
Uh, this is your final warning
You know I give you life
If you try this s*** again
You gon lose your wife
Whew. All of these in-your-face lyrics are seemingly direct responses to rumours that hit a boiling point back in that now-famous elevator (alleged “mistress” Rachel Roy is feeling the Beyhive as we speak).
Beyond that, we also continue to hear a Beyonce that’s very much about social change in the midst of what’s been oft-referred to as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. The biggest examples we’ve taken from it is ‘Freedom’ (which features a rousing verse from Kendrick Lamar, the perfect assist in our book) and the previously-released ‘Formation’, which seems to have been added at the end bonus-track style. Just prior, ‘All Night’ (co-produced by Diplo) seems to provide a proper close to Beyoncé’s journey of betrayal and — subsequently — reinvigorated love.
The video only upgrades Beyoncé’s ever-amassing power, done with the assistance of many other women leading the march for empowerment: Serena Williams (!), Quvenzhané Wallis, Zendaya, Amandla Sternberg, Chloe and Halle Bailey, Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz, an even the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin (two symbols of American racially-motivated police brutality) all appear on the hour-long clip, which sees Beyoncé smashing up stuff with a baseball bat, tossing her wedding ring and even committing suicide (we think).
Long story short, it’s a Beyoncé as we’ve never seen her, separated from her Pop, oft-elementary subject matter and regenerated by her personal liberation, matched by the soulful genres that fit the emotion (Blues, Funk…even the Hip-Hop stylings are as multi-layered as they are hard-hitting). We need a lot more of this from King Bey, period.
ALBUM/VIDEO STREAM: Beyoncé – Lemonade