Is it even in the rules to tell your story whilst highlighting the civil rights movement and glamourizing (black) female empowerment... in the same song? Who do you think you are Beyoncé? How dare you flaunt your superstar appeal with such a masterpiece of stellar cinematography! Fans embrace your sassy brilliance for a multitude of reasons. Yet you endeavor to provoke their emotion with a channeled look into your vulnerability and pain; painting a complex path of metaphorical allegory on the backdrop of the plainest of canvases.
This is not an album review.
Lemonade appears to be closing the door on a chapter. A door intrusively pushed ajar by an unsuspecting elevator surveillance tape. The public clamoured for an explanation, however, Beyonce's true response was never likely to please everybody.
In that elevator, we appeared to see a woman dealing with confusion, divided loyalties and juggling her public and private faces when she thought the cameras had stopped rolling. Her fans latch onto different aspects of her persona; be it her voice, her feminism or the energetic performances. However, the veil of 'strong independent woman' slipped that fateful night... and then came the speculation.
The gossip abounded of alleged infidelity, fuelled by the lyrical wordplay of Lemonade. Yet that's like the proverbial elephant in the room. Too much coverage of this album has focused on that theme when the true spectre still loomed. 'Who are you really Beyoncé? We love you! So the environment's safe for you to talk to us freely'. (That's was the world's collective voice lying through their teeth as they bayed for more gossip).
Beyoncé has been alluding at the coming of Lemonade for a long time.
Remember, she didn't owe us a response. It's her choice and her choice how to do it. However, some of her 'fans' were not ready. I guess the environment for open dialogue was not as safe as we thought.
Whilst most celebrated Lemonade's unannounced artistry, one high profile 'fan' appeared to cross the line. His veiled suggestion implied that Beyoncé was loved - cherished even - as long as she didn't play 'too black' in the white public playground. He attempted to intellectually validate his comments, arguing that Beyoncé was using a politically charged agenda for commercial gain. However, his views on the 'panther style afro hairstyles' were just plain offensive. My mother, aunts, sisters, daughter, friends and women around the world who wear their hair like this as a way of life, have never done so as a political statement. To belittle the women in the video in such a way is just low.
His views have prompted a slew of responses on the internet, stating Beyoncé didn't make Lemonade 'for you' as a middle aged white man. However, although I applaud those taking a stand against such despicable statements. I do feel we should proceed carefully. Saying the album is 'not for you' can be as divisive and hypocritical as the barriers, (sexism or racial prejudice), that you believe Lemonade was created to destroy, especially if your words are taken out of context.
Maybe Beyoncé was giving 'us' a little reminder; a timely shot of inspirational empowerment whilst simultaneously, maybe she is actually speaking to the middle aged, white man. To raise his awareness of the struggles of the black woman. Hoping to facilitate the change she hopes to see for her daughter's generation, if not her own. Of course, all of this is up for debate. However, we need to be careful that we do not make ourselves sound ignorant in response to the ignorant responses of others.
I'm sure, Beyoncé is aware she transcends so many different cultures that some part of her 'message' is bound to be lost in translation. I doubt she'd be foolish enough to intentionally alienate herself or exclude people from appreciating, learning or enjoying.
Most people think this album is about infidelity; yet I would argue that it is about other things such as forgiveness, growth and redemption. Although she highlights the married man's transgressions; his fear of love and taking her for granted, this is portrayed in a very one-sided manner. She paints a visual for her audience that there is no such thing as perfection. That you'll never get there. So bearing that in mind, she does very little to state what she did 'wrong', if anything, within the relationship dynamic - which, of course, is reciprocal.
However, that's just an opinion and everyone will have one. But nobody knows for sure what Lemonade is truly about unless Beyoncé tells us. We shouldn't assume it has been solely made for (black) women worldwide unless she confirms this. So perhaps we should all just stop the guessing; rubberstamping our perspective as 'a fact' and enjoy her artistic expression whether you believe it to be slightly skewed or not.
I, for one, am not overly artistic but found these visuals aesthetically astounding. Beyoncé is in a position, financially and professionally, to explicitly create the images that collect in her mind. To express the feelings inside of her with emphatic elaboration and emotional coercion. That's an enviable position to be in. Whether you like it or take umbrage, she has said or done nothing offensive. How can you have a problem with this? It is clearly artistic expression. She may want her ladies to get in formation, but that just means the beginning of an organised process; with herself a part of said process. She hasn't told all her single ladies and independent women to grab the back of her Givenchy dress and proceed behind her in pied piper fashion. She's just being...
What is Beyoncé really saying? It's open to interpretation. But one thing that appears to be clear is that she is telling her story. Highlighting the strength that can be gained from overcoming the pain of perceived infidelity. That black lives matter and black is beautiful. From the big lips, afro hair and the curvaceous 'Serena Williams' type figure, (which to address another despicable issue is NOT 'too manly'). All the things that were under-appreciated prior to this point in time, but with the help of stylists and plastic surgeons, has become the in-demand 21st century Instagram look. Lemonade plunges the depths of female experience which are often taken for granted or superficially glossed over. Beyonce dissects the (black) family unit, explores young (black) girls ignored by fathers; who are then conditioned to potentially expect this response as a normal feature of interaction with prospective partners.
She celebrates African heritage; the men, women and children who fought and died for us to have this liberty and freedom of expression. There's a reason Beyoncé is one of the best singers, performers, crossover artists, creators and social voices - because she has to be. Black professionals often have to work twice as hard, put up with twice as much bullsh*t just to blend into a world that often doesn't want them. Just to gain a sliver of the 'freedom' and life that those more privileged take for granted everyday. How can we be free if we cannot be ourselves?
Beyoncé has earned the right to be herself in public - for one moment at least - without the positive negativity or the negative positivity of critics or supporters holding her back.
In an internet age, it is almost impossible to say something so public is 'not for you'. If an individual is willing to learn and be open to understanding then it most definitely is for them. If Beyonce's high profile 'fan' had said the 'right' things, nobody would be saying it wasn't 'for him or attacking him for being white, middle aged and part of the problem. However, that message/discussion is age old. We know it and we could have seen it coming a mile away. Lemonade is for people with any kind of privilege to become more aware of their social responsibility. It is for those people who want to challenge their own world view. It is for those who are open to being empowered; open to forgiveness; who want the strength to be vulnerable; for people of African descent to be proud and learn of their heritage. Maybe it is an ode to the females in her life.
Perhaps Beyoncé is completely conscious and aware.
She eloquently refers to the dynamic between men and women told from her unique and personal experience. She has grown up a black female, a celebrity. Nobody can take that from her. That is her reality. Just because it is 'not real' for some, doesn't make it not 'reality'. There wouldn't be one word of commotion if Adele, or some other artist of a similar ilk, had expressed and celebrated their heritage with such honest artistic abandon.
Lemonade sounds like a provocative defiant declaration. Perhaps Beyoncé is saying: 'You invaded my private life and demanded to know who I am. Well here it is! I will no longer apologize for it.'
I applaud Mrs Knowles-Carter for choosing to answer questions on who the woman in the elevator was. When the world gives you lemons, you make Lemonade. Lemons being sour pills to swallow; like a potentially cheating husband or a biased and controlling working environment. Lemonade being able to rebuild a strong relationship and family unit out of the imperfection of the humanity we have created for ourselves.