North Texas Daily

The Dose: While ‘Lemonade’ entertains, it also empowers

The Dose: While ‘Lemonade’ entertains, it also empowers

April 28
04:02 2016

Chelsea Watkins | Copy Editor


I wasn’t sure what to expect as I awaited Beyoncé’s HBO special on Saturday night sitting in my room. There was no word on what “Lemonade” was going to be about and I with the rest of the Beyhive gathered on social media in anticipation.

And we weren’t disappointed as we realized it was the release of another visual album, though different from her last self-titled album Beyoncé, as it came in the form of a film.

On the surface, “Lemonade” is a commentary on infidelity that led to question how personal these songs actually are, as cheating rumors have surrounded her marriage to Jay Z.

We have a progressively enraged Beyoncé in the first half of the album. In “Pray You Catch Me,” she’s alone and desperate to figure out if she’s being cheated on. In “Hold Up,” she casually walks the streets in a yellow dress and slams car windows in with a baseball bat, proclaiming “They don’t love you like I love you.” In “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” she’s aggressive, posing the question “Who the f–k do you think I is / you ain’t married to no average b–ch boy.” And in “Sorry,” she claims that she’s over the [bullshit], although one can question if this is a mere façade.

Beyoncé also explores her relationship with her father – who has had his own bout of infidelity issues – over a bluegrass beat in “Daddy Lessons” which invokes her Southern roots.

In “Sandcastles,” she sings about forgiveness over a piano ballad and is intimately posed with her husband, which seems to be her way to eliminate thoughts that the couple’s marriage is still in jeopardy.

But beyond the infidelity issues she poses, you can hear her expressing the pains of being a black woman.

In “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a sound-bite from a speech made by Malcolm X is inserted where he said “the most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman,” while a montage of black women is shown on screen.

Black women are stationed throughout the visual components of “Lemonade.” Serena Williams even makes an appearance during “Sorry” as she unapologetically dances in a leotard. You also see other black celebrities like Amandla Stenberg and Zendaya Coleman, among normal black girls with natural hair – in fact, you don’t see anyone that isn’t black throughout the film.

Things turn more somber during “Forward,” featuring James Blake’s harrowing voice while mothers of unarmed black teens killed by police, such as Sybrina Fulton and Lesley McSpadden, hold up their son’s pictures highlighting the pain that black women go through when losing their children to police brutality.

The album comes full-circle during “Freedom” as Beyoncé is able to break free from her anger and sing to a group of black women.  At the end of the song an anecdote by Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother, is added in where she says “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.” That clip encapsulates the visual album’s purpose – a journey of grappling with life’s hardships and working through them to your own advantage.

It’s hard to fully grasp the impact of the album before you watch the hour-long visual component. It strings songs together with poetry by Warsan Shire, putting the story into perspective. Also, the videography is mesmerizing and easily draws you into the story Beyoncé is trying to tell.

It’s obvious, especially after the release of “Formation,” that Beyoncé made “Lemonade” to be an intimate experience about the plight of black women. And it’s commendable that she has used her platform to release music that doesn’t feel generic.

Beyoncé’s vulnerability on this album shines and creates an experience that’s hard to pass off. The beauty of the album is not just a simple collection of songs about her experience with infidelity and her own insecurities, but also the hardships that come with being a black woman who loves hard and is not granted the same in return – be that from a lover or from society in general.

And, most importantly, it teaches us to turn the bitterness of pain into sweet, sweet lemonade.

Featured Image: Courtesy | Beyoncé

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