I stayed up until 7 am last night wading through Beyonce's pain, pride and underboob on her most volatile album yet. This might be anyone's most volatile album yet... It's a detailed and heart felt "fuck you" to Jay Z and his rumoured extra curricular shags. A brutal take down of his failings in a marriage that she has clearly been fighting for and forgiving for from the start. It's the best way I have ever seen anyone deal with cheating, and is soon to become a manifesto for anyone who has been slighted and humiliated in love.
Posting a picture of Jaz Z bending over fully naked is the only way he could possibly be more exposed in this album. We learn of his weaknesses, pitfalls and insecurities. She alludes to his fear of love, his feeling of being undeserving of a woman like him. How had he not been famous, he possibly would not have won so much vagina in his life (true), and yet she loves him, truly, wholly and still. There is even a video he physically features in and looks like the sorriest bastard I have ever seen. That was the sight of a broken man on the verge of losing everything. Her releasing this controversial album on his (utterly shit) streaming site, Tidal, is only possibly another form of apology and bowing down to a woman with only a shred of mercy left to bestow upon him. She emotionally scalps him and reduces him to the laughing stock he is for bothering to look elsewhere when he has arguably the most impressive woman of all time in his bed. I mean, really, what more do you need than a woman like that? What possible sycophant, fan or protege can measure up to a woman who is not only incredible, but also vulnerable and ceaselessly working to compete with the women flocking around you. A woman like that humble enough to recognise that love takes work. A woman who has been publicly fighting for your affections since the first sign of trouble in paradise, If I Was a Boy, followed swiftly by her brilliant Why Don't you Love Me. A very sad song in which she lists her (many) attributes, including the finest derriere ever have I seen, and beggars belief that she still cannot fully satisfy him.
The rumours have been flying around them for at least eight years, since Rihanna joined the picture, then there was allegedly Rita and Rachel and then some, not to mention the alleged love child he refuses to take a paternity test over. In spite of all this noise, which was easily dismissed as Hollywood nonsense, as a family, they have always portrayed a very dignified, united and wholesome front, but since Elevatorgate there has been a distinct and pungent ripple of trouble in paradise, impossible to ignore.
I criticised Beyonce publicly for her last visual album in which she abandoned her power house diva front and appeared to succumb to the cliche that most women in this industry fall victim to, playing the naked dancing fuck toy for a man, notably a constantly fully clothed man who is making no effort to arouse her back, chanting lyrics like, "I just wanna be the girl you like..." as she slowly separates her bare bum cheeks with a piece of rope. At the time, I thought she had grown insecure down to the rise of Miley Cryus and RiRi in relevancy due to mainly, their overt sexuality and notoriety, and joined the arena to compete with and conquer all, maintaining her title as the queen of music. I didn't think I needed to see her anus in order for her to be my goddess above all goddesses of music and I thought she was sending a dangerous message to young women that you need to take your clothes off and behave like a non-threatening plaything in order to stay current and be liked. I was pissed off. It wasn't about slut shaming. It was about how one sided the sexuality was and how it felt like a one way act for men. That's a shit message for us women that coincides with the message of porn being mostly about a man's needs.
However, I think I was wrong. And I'm willing to say so. I think I misunderstood her. I now realise listening to this album about HOW hard she has worked to slip into whatever role it takes to make her marriage work, be that a softer, more sexual, obedient, fun, loyal attentive etc wife. I now look back at that porn-centric album as a whole other beast. She wasn't competing for OUR attention. She was competing for HIS attention. She had just had a baby, her body had changed, her life and her mood had shifted from the role of lover to mother and she was afraid she was going to lose her husband to some opportunistic replacement. She even, in the song Mine with Drake on that album says that she doesn't feel like herself since the baby. And in the press and promo for that record she said she was showing how even though she was a mother, she could still be sexy and raw. I could never understand why she felt the need to show US that, a bunch of strangers who already thought she was the sexiest woman alive, without her having to ram it down our throats. She was telling HIM that she hadn't lost it. That she could still compete.
After over 10 years with a man you have lost your virginity to and then carried his child with, you are having to desperately fight for his attention, and you are motherfucking BEYONCE, the woman all other women are a mere cheap copy of, you have all of the things, literally of the things a man or woman could want, and you are the best at ALL of them. Even then you are having to elbow desperate, inferior women out of the way to catch your own husband's eye, must be mind boggling. It does beggar the question, what morsel of hope do the rest of us mere mortals have if even she isn't enough for someone's appetite? It's comforting and desperately sad all at the same time.
Her last two albums have been open letters to Jay Z. She's tried everything to be his number one. She made a whole album trying to be his fantasy and his porn and his stripper and plaything. She's been independent and fierce. She does work for charity and is a loving mother and a doting supportive wife and business partner. She's exhausted and she has run out of ideas, and she's gone on the offence. She's walked around their past finding and collecting all of his bullshit, and she gathered it up and fired it at him through the cannon that is Lemonade.
I'm so glad this album exists for so many reasons.
1) Because Beyonce isn't a fame hungry cliche after all, she's just a victim of a man's unquenchable thirst.
2) Because this feels like the most honest and brutally sincere Beyonce we have ever seen. The butter in her mouth has melted and disappeared and all that's in there is venom being cast out by a sharp tongue.
3) It's really refreshing to hear that anyone can lose someone's interest and attention, even if they have all of the things that we think we have to have to keep a man's eyes on you.
4) It's SO empowering to hear a woman not cry about being betrayed, but to fight back, and get mad and feel entitled to better. To recognise her strengths and offer a hearty "fuck you" to someone she is admitting publicly she still loves and will take back, if he changes his way. There is no 'pride' in this album, it's just humanity and raw emotion.
5) She's BACK to the powerful and unashamed diva that the world dropped to its knees for.
It's a story old as women's liberation, that sometimes successful and powerful, intelligent women can actually be a turn-off to lesser men. It's a gender role our society aren't yet accustomed to. In the millions I'm sure we could count the amount of men who have felt intimidated by their wife doing well and sought another woman on the side, who is beneath them, who looks up to them, flatters their ego and makes them feel needed and powerful. It's a sad cliche. I myself have fallen victim to the trap of shrinking myself to make a man feel bigger in order to keep him. But as I've gotten older, I'm tired of playing a part, I want someone who can match me as I am, not dictate a level upon which I can stand according to his personal taste. If a man needs a lesser woman, then you need a better man. Which is what she is reiterating in this album.
Sometimes when men aren't succeeding, they go to all sorts of extremes to restore the balance of their ego, be that by exerting their power and force over others, developing depression, or seeking out cheap affirmations of the power they think they have. If one were to look at the trajectories of their careers, Jay Z hasn't been as relevant as his wife for some time. Since his tour with Kanye, which Kanye got most of the praise for, he hasn't had much solo musical success in a while, Tidal is BEYOND a clusterfuck, and this really mean meme about him has gone viral...
...as it has become a truth universally acknowledged, that he is very lucky to be married to Beyonce, and everyone is very impressed that he has managed to pull that off. She has meanwhile gone from strength to strength and become the greatest female entertainer of all time. Not "ONE OF" but "THE" best. And she's smashing the visual, online, and fashion world in her spare time. She's so much more interesting to the press these days, he seems like a wonderful condiment to her flavour these days. And so it makes sense to me that a man in that position would need a little ego massage from someone with less money and power than him. Enter "Becky With The Good Hair"
OH GOD JAY. What have you done? Was it worth how publicly humiliated you are now? Some people think this is all a sham to drum up publicity for this album, but let us be honest people, she doesn't need the publicity, she just has to fart and the world listens and applauds. Also, WHY would he allow himself to look like SUCH a cunt to the whole world. It's so embarrassing. Jay Z, to all of us, you look bananas. Like a greedy, insecure child. And a stereotype who is almost 50, scrabbling for some emotional currency to make you feel like you are worthy of your wife and the title you once held.
To women reading this and listening to that album. A man must rise to your level, do not sink to the level he dictates. Find someone who celebrates your glory, rather than finding it threatening. Never forget to pump up the lover in your life and make them feel good, and always keep it fresh and full of love and affection, but demand the same in return. Know that we have to earn each other forever, and that respect is a key part of life. But suffocating yourself for another person isn't. It's their problem, not yours. always communicate with each other and maintain that needs are being met, and that personal life circumstances aren't getting in the way of the love. Listen to your instincts and know that no relationship is worth sacrificing your life for. Beyonce has learned, and she's delivered us all a solemn warning.
And Jay Z, take cover, because this is just the beginning. You poor, sorry, shagging bastard.
This post first appeared on Jameela's website here.