Six Things I Took From Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’

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On Saturday, April 23rd, 2016, singer, songwriter, record producer and actress, Beyoncé Giselle Knowles- Carter surprised her loyal fans with an HBO world premiere event titled, Lemonade. Lemonade is her sixth studio album and her second visual album. After it’s release, both the internet and the press couldn’t stop buzzing about a subliminal message lying within the lyrics. Judging by the lyrics, most assumed that Bey’s marriage with Shawn Carter–better known as rapper Jay-Z, was in hot water at one point.  There are many fascinating facets to Lemonade–are both intriguing and inspiring; however, I’m afraid this is just an article and not a manifesto (which I’m sure a fan somewhere is attempting to put together).  That being said here are the six things that I noticed about Lemonade.

I’ll begin with the most talked about subject of the visual album, which is that of her marriage.  She says “I tried to make a home out of you, but doors lead to trapped doors.” Clearly something or someone who were once home and a sense of comfort to her has now become a cage built on high hopes and unmet expectations.  The last song “All Night” was very warm.  It will definitely make you want to call up someone in your life just to say that you love them.  This video is unlike the rest of the videos.  No choreography or costumes.  It shows a snip from her actual wedding, a bit of her and her husband getting matching tattoos, her parents, and various ordinary happy couples enjoying each other’s company.  No makeup, no glamour, just real life imperfect people who love each other.  It was my absolute favorite. Despite the hurt and anger she feels toward her husband, I think she is telling us that she is going to try to make it work. After all, she does give him his final warning in the song “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White.  You can’t say she didn’t warn you, Mr. Carter.
There is strong speculation that Beyoncé’s father cheated on her mother.  Thirty-one minutes into the visual piece she says, “Am I talking about your husband or your father?” It is almost as if she is saying it is for us (the listeners) to decide.   A true artist doesn’t always tell us what their work means.  They leave it up to our own personal interpretation. I believe that Lemonade is about her father as much as it is about her husband.
 Beyoncé has been performing since she was a very young girl.  She has grown as an artist with each album and that is clearly evident in Lemonade.  When fans heard she was releasing something new they thought they would see a video or a new song.  A full-length movie was an unexpected happy surprise. She brings her songs to life with this visual album.  My favorite videos were for the songs “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White and “Hold Up” because everyone loves a beautiful woman in a sun dress smashing cars with a baseball bat.
Featured artist on this album includes Jack White, The Weekend, James Blake, and Kendrick Lamar. The visual album also includes a cameo by Serena Williams for the song “Sorry” and even one of her husband Jay-Z in the video “Sandcastles”.
“The most disrespected, unprotected, and neglected person in America is the black woman.”
This is a quote from African-American civil rights leader, Malcolm X, which is heard in transition between songs. It is clear that, with this album, Beyoncé is making her views on politics and society heard.  She is a role model for all women especially African-American women everywhere. She is using her popularity to give them a voice.  In my opinion, she does this with both taste and candor.  She also shows the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin as well as other bereaved women.
The visual album takes us through an evolution of her emotions.  Therefore, it is broken up into different sections. They are intuition, formation, anger, apathy, emptiness, loss, accountability, reformation, forgiveness, and resurrection.  She has created her own grieving process and invites us on this journey with her.
Here are some of my favorite quotes that signify different parts of her growth process.
“Where do you go when you go quiet?”
We all have things we do and places we go when we need a break from the world.  We often need silence to grow as people.
“I tried to change, closed my mouth more.  Tried to be soft, prettier, less awake”
Many women feel that in order to keep their significant other or to be more accepted by society, they need to change who they are. They feel they must be soft spoken and do things in order for society to accept them as beautiful.  In a sense, this is like putting to sleep who you are.  Beyoncé tells us that she too has felt this pressure regardless of how beautiful, popular, and successful she perceivably is.
“I crossed myself and thought I saw the devil.” 
This can mean seeing yourself for who you really are and not liking what you see.  The devil can signify imperfections, flaws, and things that need to be abandoned.
“I had my ups and downs but I always find my inner strength.  I was served lemons but I made lemonade.” 🍋
No matter how sour the situation is, there is always a way to find or make something beautiful out of it. Sometimes a refined inner strength is all that can come from a sour situation.  Other times a simple glass of ice cold lemonade will do the trick to get you to the next moment.  I believe Jay-Z’s grandmother is the older lady who says this quote in the movie.  This is the greatest thing that I took away from her album.  Life has its ups and downs but with love and lemonad; all things are possible.