It has been a little over two days since Beyoncé, once again, released a masterpiece that has women, and apparently men, reaching for the nearest BeyHive application. The Queen brings us into her visual realm as she premieres her latest album, “Lemonade.” The mini-movie is full of vibrant colors, darkness, despair, anger, joy, carefreeness, and blackness. And when I say blackness…I mean full on African tribal, natural hair blackness.
Beyoncé, who gave us the heads up with “Formation,” produces what I like to call a “Black Girl Anthem,” with “Lemonade.” Even with the title, she shows how black women have been taking their troubles and the bs of the world and turning it into greatness. (Lemons into lemonade…) Now, at first glance, the songs and visuals had me wondering if my fave had secretly killed her husband for cheating and was confessing it to us all, but that theory didn’t just sit with me. She wouldn’t do all of this for just an album about cheating…it had to be more. The visuals, the spoken word, the imagery…nah…Bey was telling us something and we had to be able to look through the lines to fully see it.
At first, I thought maybe I was reading too much into it. Maybe Beyoncé did just want to do an album about cheating and overcoming it. Maybe this was her “Ring the Alarm Pt. 2.” Maybe she wanted to seem more relatable to her older audience. I mean everyone isn’t rich and happily making love to their man everyday, right? *inserts sarcasm button* Maybe “Lemonade” was her therapy and way of healing from her father’s discretions and possible husband’s. Or…maybe this album had nothing to do with Jay at all. Maybe it is about the Black woman’s plight throughout the years dealing with Black men and society.
Beyoncé, a self-proclaimed feminist, has always been about empowering women and has now fully turned her attention to Black women. I know I may lose some of you, but get a cup of lemonade, add a little whiskey, and just ride this wave with me. Imagine that the woman on this album represents Black women, as a whole, and her cheating man represents Black men. In the beginning, Beyoncé is praying that she can hear him whispering and prays that he catches her listening. Black men often keep their problems to themselves, but as Black women we are always there, wanting to know what is wrong so that we can help. It is a way of showing that we care and want to support our men.
Now shift into “Hold Up,” which is a visual gem. Beyoncé comes out of a building with water flowing everywhere and is in bright yellow. With a very mellow vibe, the song states, “Hold up…they don’t love you like I love you…can’t you see there’s no other man above you…what a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you.” Joyfully slinging a bat named “Hot Sauce,” Beyoncé is damaging anything in sight and she proclaims how much she loves her man more than anyone else. She also begins to spit a few bars, (thanks Jay), stating, “They used to hide from you, lie to you, but y’all know…we were made for each other, so I find you and hold you down.” This is pretty much Black women asking Black men, “Wyd???” We, Black women, love you in a way no one else does. We understand the daily struggles and were made for each other and yet, you turn your backs on us at times. You think that everyone else really loves you, when in fact they, (society), are just playing you. “What’s worse? Looking jealous or crazy…jealous or crazy? More like, being walked all over lately, walked all over lately…I’d rather be crazy.” Black women often get labeled as being jealous of white women or being just crazy for even thinking that Black men turn their backs on them. We are often thrown to the wolves by being projected as ratchet, hoes, sluts, etc. and treated like dirt by others. We don’t want to have to deal with the same from our men as well.
Now with “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” this is when the Black woman gets fed up. She’s over the bull and it’s quite evident. “Who the f*** do you think I is??” “Bad muthaf****…God complex…motivate yo ass…call me Malcolm X.” At this time, there is an excerpt of Malcolm X speaking about black women being the most disrespected and unprotected people in this world. It’s quite clear that Beyoncé’s message is a little bit more than just cheating on this song and video. Displays of beautiful black women of all ages are shown as Bey goes ham in a parking garage. She is heated! She is talking reckless, (“You can watch my fat ass twist boy…as I bounce to the next d*** boy.”) She wants him to feel her pain and frustration. As Black women, this is something that often happens when trying to explain why we feel unprotected by Black men at times. Some times, the anger just comes out because we are tired of talking and showing the obvious.
With arguments, come apologies and Black women are known for apologizing for things we haven’t done just to keep the peace. There is enough to deal with as Black people in the world, so we try to keep our homes as peaceful as we can; even though this can be more damaging. In her next song, “Sorry,” Beyoncé automatically makes it clear that she is not sorry boo. “Middle fingers up…put them hands high…wave it in his face…tell him boy bye.” “Me and my baby, we gon’ be all right…we gon’ live a good life.” Sometimes you have to let go of the “keeping this family together” when being mistreated wrong. Black families are identified for doing this, especially in older generations. Beyoncé is telling Black women that it is okay for us to not be sorry. No need to apologize. Everything will be okay. Now about the infamous quote, “He better call Becky with the good hair,” that really fired everyone up about possible cheating rumors. Becky, to me, is a white woman. Beyoncé, who is representing Black women, is telling her man, Black men, that if he wants to keep acting the way he is acting, then he can go on over to the other side. If you aren’t going to uplift and be there for Black women, join the others who denounce and degrade us.
Following me so far? Good. “6 Inch Heels,” is a “touch your toes” kind of song. Add The Weeknd and it is a perfect recipe for a pole dancing routine. After several minutes of my own twerk session, I finally tried to dissect this song. “She grinds from Monday to Friday, works from Friday to Sunday.” “She gon’ slang…too smart to crave material things…stacking her paper.” This is signifying how hard Black women work to keep things running smoothly. Black women will find a way out of no way to hold down their family. She doesn’t need a man to be there for her and she is going to work her ass off to make things happen. But as the song ends Beyonce sings, “You’ll always come back to me…come back…come back.” This is showing that, while the Black woman can adapt, be independent, and get her own…she still wants/needs her man to be there for her.
This transitions into the country treasure, “Daddy Lessons.” This is as southern as it gets. Beyoncé belts out a 2nd Amendment right anthem that will make country singers run for cover. “When trouble comes to your town…men like me come around.” “Take care of your mother…watch out for your sister…with his gun and his head held high, he told me not to cry…oh my daddy said shoot.” This is when Black women are getting back their strength. Protect what is yours, at whatever cost. It is very Black Panther and Malcom X-esque. “My daddy warned me about men like you…he said baby darling, he’s playing you.” Don’t let it look like society has accepted you…it is all a joke. Don’t fall for it and stay ready to fight.
“Love Drought” is when forgiveness comes in. Black women will always be there for Black men and this is the time where we put our pride aside and try to make it work. “You and me can move a mountain…you and me can calm a world down. You and me can make it rain now…you and me will stop this love drought.” Together, Black people can do miracles. We could really take over and be more than we are, but it takes both, the Black woman and the Black man, to make this happen. Unity and love is the answer. Beyoncé understands this and is understanding of her man, (Black men), trying his hardest to support and be there for her.
“Sandcastles” is a beautiful song that is full of self-acknowledgment. Beyoncé, (Black women), has realized that she has now turned her back on her man, (Black men), and she is apologizing for it. She accepts the role that she has possibly played in him being hurt and feeling powerless and acknowledges that. “I made you cry when I walked away.” “And your heart is broken because I walked away…show me your scars and I won’t walk away. And I know I promised that I couldn’t stay…every promise don’t work out that way.” Transition into a quick “Forward.” “It’s time to listen…it’s time to fight…forward.” I think that is pretty self-explanatory.
Photo Source: http://www.vibe.com/2016/04/beyonce-lemonade-hbo/
Now we are closing in. “Freedom.” “Freedom… freedom…I can’t move…freedom cut me loose. Freedom…freedom where are you? Cause I need freedom too.” Now that Beyoncé and her man, (Black women and Black men), are back on the same page, they can now come together and fight for what really matters. In the visual, you see young black women and mothers of Black boys/men that have been killed in police violence. This is a powerful moment. This shows that we have to pass the torch and break the cycle. We can teach our children and generations to come what they need to do to ensure they have their freedom because no one else is going to fight for it, but us. “I break chains all by myself…won’t let my freedom rot in hell. Hey…I’ma keep runnin’ cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”
Proving that love conquers all, especially Black love, “All Night,” shows that after all the hurt and pain, Black women still love their Black men. They will take in all of their troubles as their own and uplift them, while the world turns their back on them. “We found the truth beneath your lies…true love never has to hide. I trade your broken wings for mine.” “So many people that I know they just tryna touch ya…kiss up and rub up and feel up…kiss up and rub up and feel up on you.” This shows that even when society tries to make a Black man feel like they love him, they are not really here for them. A Black woman knows this and truly will give him the love and support that he needs and deserves because she understands him. “They say true love is the greatest weapon to end the war caused by pain…but every diamond has imperfections.” Black women grasp that Black men are flawed, we all are, but we still love and honor them because it is what we are taught and it is a true form of love. We are all we have.
And lastly, “Formation.” Now that we have gone through the ups and down of the dynamic relationship between Black women and Black men, it is time to act. Beyoncé has pretty much given us the blue print to make this thing work and it is now time to get in line and act accordingly. As Black women, we have to be aligned with all to make everything else flow accordingly. We have to be ready to be supportive, ready to provide, ready to love…we have to be in formation for this war. We are the life-line and it starts with us. Uplift and support the Black woman because they/we are basically…everything!
So, I know that may be a lot for some and they are wondering how in the hell did she come up with this? Maybe I actually think Beyoncé is a very woke individual and decided this was the time to use her celebrity for the right reason in a more vocal way? From her visuals to the spoken word that is used, this album is more than a “screw you for cheating on me” record. Beyoncé is older now. She has a beautiful Black daughter. She sees how this world really is and wants to be a part of the change. There is a bigger picture here. So, regardless if you want to take the songs and eternalize it with my rendition or eternalize it as a woman mad and hurt in a relationship, it is safe to say that Beyoncé has produced another amazing album, while uplifting and representing Black women in a beautiful way. And there will never be an argument or issue about that.