When “Formation” ’caused all this conversation’ back in February, I was expecting an empowering and proud heritage-filled album from Beyonce about being the independent woman of color that she is. Lemonade embodies the journey of encompassing those qualities of Knowles, but by way of which I did not think was possible: infidelity and heartbreak.
(PC: Leaked It)
I always found Beyonce and Jay Z to be a role model couple, especially given their individuality as independent role models. The last thing I would have expected was for Jay Z to cheat on Beyonce, rumored to have had the affair with Rachel Roy (AKA “Becky with the good hair”), let alone exposing the situation through a twelve track album. Given that final track of “Formation” was the prior-released single, Lemonade being a journey of dealing with infidelity was the last subject matter I expected.
Beyonce starts the album off with “Pray You Catch Me,” shattering every single perfect view I had of her and Jay Z as a couple and tearing my heart strings to shreds with her last whisper of, “What are you doing, my love?” A lost love or trust to someone else by the one she loves the most, the heartbreak within a woman without imperfections- or so we thought.
“Hold Up” exemplifies an internal conflict of inclination and uncertainty of something that one does not wish to be true. Beyonce knows her worth and knows that she deserves better than what has happened to her. There was no one else in her eyes she could hold higher or that could do right by her, and yet he proved her wrong.
The ultimate Fuck You anthem to come along in a good while, “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” featuring Jack White, is the most raw anger that I have heard from Beyonce since having followed her music consistently from an early age. She publicly humiliates him, rips him to shreds and does not give a single fuck about it because he brought it on himself. Definitely my favorite from the album due to Beyonce totally owning herself as an individual in the midst of an act of disgrace that really could have brought her down. Once again, she unapologetically reminds us that she knows her worth.
Fuck her. Fuck him. Just fuck it. Beyonce is not about to be “Sorry” for focusing on herself. She is not about to let this situation ruin the way she views and carries herself- and rightfully so. Beyonce will not listen to any excuses, reasonings or anything. She is going to do what she wants and not feel sorry for choosing herself over him. Beyonce, herself, is her top priority.
With a feature from The Weeknd, Beyonce uses “6 Inch Heels” to own herself as an independent woman. She is her own profit, her own entity, her own person. She has a lot to show for herself by her own accord. Not only does Beyonce’s self as a person reflect owning herself, but Beyonce’s self as a performer and artist reflects this self worth, as well. She believes in herself as she was taught to be.
I hate country music, but I cannot turn it down when you have Beyonce serenading about her paternal Texas upbringing over an acoustic guitar postceding a New Orleans jazz introduction. Beyonce’s father taught her to watch out for certain people and implications that the world will bring to her. He taught her to be a caregiver, a fighter, an independent woman who should not have to answer to anyone, especially a man who would do wrong by his woman.
As much as Jay did wrong by Beyonce, she recognizes that he is trying to genuinely fix the problems he caused. “Love Drought” wrestles with reasoning the infidelity. She wonders what she could have done differently to have stopped this from happening. Beyonce and Jay Z are so good together: they could “move mountains”, “make it rain down”, and “stop this love drought.” They will get through this together.
Beyonce and Jay Z have built a life together. He did her wrong and she should have left, but Beyonce believes her and Jay Z are worth fighting for and staying around. She has her pride, but she cares about him, too. With “Sandcastles,” she wants him to be honest and vulnerable with her.
Featuring James Blake, “Forward” is a ballad about Beyonce and Jay Z fighting through this infidelity and working through it as a couple. They are human. They are worth fighting for. They are getting through this.
Beyonce has found “Freedom” through this entire process of overcoming adversity thanks to her own independence and confidence in herself. Kendrick Lamar’s feature exemplifies the adversity and oppression that people of color face everyday, but have also overcome. Beyonce comes from a strong background and upbringing that taught her to overcome any kind of adversity- even infidelity. “Imma keep runnin’ ‘cause a winner don’t quit on themself.”As Hattie White outros, “I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”
Through “All Night,” we know that Beyonce and Jay Z have made it. They overcame the infidelity. It was hard, but their love was worth fighting for and they overcame the adversity. It is going to take time, but they’re going to get through it and they have a lot to be proud of and show for themselves as a couple. There is no one else for them, but each other in the end.
Beyonce uses her adversities to fuel her artistry and create a positive outlet for her own pain, as well as others’. She threw me for a curve ball with the message of this album, but Beyonce Knowles never ceases to surprise me. With the HBO release of Lemonade and a Formation World Tour that is soon to follow, Beyonce is continuing to “cause all this conversation.”