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#Lemonade : The Cultural References & Critique

Beyonce’s Lemonade, was presented to us with so many layers. This is not only an album, but Beyonce is reworking how we consume albums. In an age, where albums are driven by the viability of their singles. When was the last time you consumed an album like this? On a Saturday night at 9pm, on premium cable? Mind you HBO, made their channels free for the weekend. God is God and Beyonce is not, but dear lawd. This was magical.

I took a good bit of time to process what Lemonade, both the audio and visual album, meant to me.  It is disheartening, though not surprising, to see how many major publications, who had to scrabble to find a Black woman to pen a review of Lemonade, are busting out continuous headlines that focus on all the receipts (that don’t exist) about Jay-Z cheating on Beyonce. Or why Rita Ora or Rachel Roy couldn’t just be happy in the land of Black people don’t know who you are, but wealthy white folks do so blah, and not post thinly veiled subliminals that reference Lemonade?

Cheating is not the only way to break your lover’s heart. Cheating is not the only form of betrayal in a relationship. I personally did not walk away feeling like Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce. That is such a shallow reference point in all that Beyonce presented us with both audibly and visually in Lemonade.

Beyonce releasing her albums as visual entities is the acuteness of a strategic artist. All her albums have been strongly uplifted by their aligning music videos. In the past, Beyonce would drop a single like Single Ladies. Middle of the road pop selections that even those who stan, had to hit it with, ‘uhhh….I’m gonna wait for the video’. The songs weren’t won over because they were musically great. They were won over because her videos enhanced the musicality and the visual left an indelible mark that her songs a hit. From Bootylicious to Single Ladies. This has been the formula.

Beyonce has changed the way we consume her music, forcing us to understand her intention. While there a few tracks that I am inclined to skip on the audio version of the album I find myself constantly rewinding and replaying every moment on the visual album.

Lemonade is an extended ode to womanhood.
To the evolution of Black women.
A call of triumph over our sadness and joy in living,
A rebellious rejoicing in being a Black women.

Pray You Catch Me.
It evokes so much emotion, because it feels so familiar. The feeling we all go through as we want our hurt to be recognized, without having to vocalize our hurt to our significant others. Because for us, once we vocalize it, when we have to say it rather than them recognizing it, we know that that is the beginning of the end.

Intuition
“the ability to understand something immediately, without the need for conscious reasoning.”

“I tried to make a home out of you”
The words of warsan shire who penned the film adaption/poetry for Lemonade. It’s an ode to her “For women who are difficult to love” poem. A reference to the lines “you can’t make homes out of human beings/ someone should have already told you that.” Another being can not be your all your everything because you need to be whole within yourself first.

“in the tradition of men in my blood…”
When you tie the storyline together from Lemonade, you see the evolution does not begin and end with Beyonce.
This is lineage going back to a beginning unknown, conjuring up the work of so many Black women authors.
Gloria Naylor with Bailey’s Cafe, where one character Eve has a boarding home and she will only take women in if she feels they can move on into a more meaningful existence. It’s a home for the broken that need healing. Or how Alice Walker rewrites the whole history thru the lens of Black and Brown women in Temple of My Familiar. “Helped are those who know…” There’s Zora Neale Hurston or so many Toni Morrison books come to mind. And every book gives a nod, an ode, to the mysticism our ancestors came over to America with. When Christianity was brought to Africa through imperialism and imperialism is what kidnapped Africans hoarding them on the underbelly of ships, what allowed a culture to manifest and a community to survive was the animist belief in Orishas.

Beyonce jumping off that bridge, was like oh my gosh, is she committing suicide? And there sprang up the reference to Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls…Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. Beyonce then floats around in the antebellum period room that is submerged under water. Bursting through the doors with the flood water at her feet in mustard yellow dress illuminating like the goddess Oshun.

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Orishas are an amalgamation of the Yoruba culture that has transversed through the many cultures of the African diaspora. A religious deity that represents sweets water, femininity and sexuality, love and prosperity, like the wholeness of a woman. She is usually depicted resplendent in golden yellow. She is a healer, as Beyonce goes through the process of breaking the cycle and then aides in the healing of women and herself.

Denial
“a condition in which someone will not admit that something sad, painful, etc., is true or real.”

Are you cheating on me?
Absolutely love the sound of Beyonce’s voice throughout the whole album. Some of her best singing yet. “Hold Up” is a fun song that also shows her vocal prowess. A Diplo produced track, it’s great to see the diversity in sound of the tracks he produced on this album. Did we all collectively lose it when realized the bat was named Hot Sauce? Beyonce hood rich cause she got a bat in her bag that we all thought was hot sauce!

Anger
“an emotion characterized by antagonism toward someone or something you feel has deliberately done you wrong.”

“I could wear her skin as mind”
Beyonce coldly talking about scalping a bish.  It’s that contradicting feeling when the pain is caused by someone you love
giving of themselves to someone else. Part of you wants to contort into that other person while simultaneously killing a hoe.

“Why can’t you see me?
Everyone else can.”
That’s not just about the fame of Beyonce. 
But we’ve all been through moments where all we want is acknowledgement of this one thing, so we can get past this one thing and the world is moving about like everything is fine or every other person but the person you want the acknowledgment from is around. When you still feel alone in a room full of friends.

“Don’t Hurt Yourself”, is one of the songs I can skip on the audio album, but I absolutely love it in the visual. It is a visual montage for all the illuminati theorists who believe that Jesus is a pale skinned man with straight light colored hair. We gots to give a moment of silence for Beyonce’s fluctuating titties. I need to know what she’s doing cause I just want to top mines off so they jiggle like hers. Everyone was slim fit in this video for the most part. You trying to tell me I need to workout to get put on Bey?

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The highlight is when Beyonce brought it back with the Malcolm X speech. Who taught you to hate yourself? The speech Malcolm X gave at Ronald Stokes funeral in LA. Stokes gunned down by the police, not in 2016 but in 1962 because history is a forever cycling of Black oppression. This speech still rings so true today. As Brother X referenced, the most disrespected, unprotected, neglected person in America is the Black woman.

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Apathy
“the feeling of not having much emotion or interest.”

“Most bomb p*ssy who, because of me, sleep evaded. Her god listening. Her heaven will be a love without betrayal. Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks.”
warsan, girl…that is my favoritist line in Lemonade. He couldn’t stay out of it and I’m giggling cause I get it…do you? “Sorry” is the song that serves up most of the delectable one liners as Beyonce serves us nonchalant ego and pride that we waver through  as we deal with heartbreak.  As for Becky with the good hair, I refuse to be put a face to that reference because Bey purposefully called her Becky to pay her dust. Ole’ baby hair brigade hoe.

Jesus be a waist trainer! Serena Williams as the video chick? Bey literally got the baddest chick in all the games from Mereen to Wimbledon. The one Drake can’t even get his hands on, is slaying down down down with them thick ass thighs and yes gawd body. Making her booty bounce like a lowrider. We have been blessed by this glorious experience.

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Emptiness
“the quality of lacking meaning or sincerity”

“God was in the room when he said wrap your legs around me. Pull me in, pull me in, nipple in his mouth, she’d whisper, ‘oh my god.’ That, too, is a form of worship.”
Sex is a holy covenant of marriage and I’ve always been intrigued how in some religions it seems to be the highest and only covenant that has consequence if broken. I do understand the reference in sex between partners being something sacred, holy and spiritual.

Loss
“the experience of having something taken from you or destroyed”

“6 Inch” featuring Weekend, is another passable entree on the audio album that is offers delightful cinmetography on the visual album as Beyonce gives us Mami Wata tease, another pantheon of African culture that has transversed the Atlantic. A protector of emotional and mental healing, I don’t know if it was intentional, inspiration, or just something I picked up on.

Accountability
“an obligation or willingness to accept responsibility”

“Your mother is a woman and women like her cannot be contained.”
We hear these words as they pan to Leah Chase the 93 year old Queen of Creole Cuisine and inspiration for Disney’s Princess Tiana. It’s astonishing how anyone watched all of this and missed the message around the proud lineage of Black women. It’s looking you dead in your face.

“Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Are you a slave to the back of his head? Am I talking about your husband or your father?”
We know in “Daddy Lessons” that Beyonce is referencing her father Matthew Knowles, though it’s up for debate if she’s also referencing her own husband and the qualities she despises in her father manifesting in him. Or possibly Tina’s own father who Tina learned to accept his less than qualities and then forgave her own husband for those same shortcomings. The country vibe, that I’m assuming is an ode to the Zydeco sounds of the Houston Creole community, has us all waiting to catch Beyonce’s performance at the CMTs. I always got the sense that Solange had the bigger falling out with Matthew but it is good to see Beyonce come full circle with her father because she has always noted how much he helped prime her to have this very successful career.

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Reformation
“the act or process of improving something or someone by removing or correcting faults, problems, etc.”

“Why are you afraid of love? You think it’s not possible for someone like you.”
So many of us attempt this with the wrong and very underserving person. Call it Captain Save-a-hoe-syndrome. But with the right person this is a very necessary part of the process of healing, in order to get over any form of betrayal or hurt

“Love Drought” is the new I’m trying to get over this break up but let me cry over random objects first song. It is a beautiful song to do it to tho. It’s a baptism and a tug of war. It’s knowing that you could move a mountain but there’s also a mountain to climb first. It’s why I gotta fall for a man that hit me with that BS timing excuse on why he can’t get his shit together.

Forgiveness
“the act of forgiving someone.”

“Sandcastles” is like poetry and essentially asking in order for her to forgive and reconcile back to the same level of lover if not higher that she needs to see your vulnerability. It is magnificently beautiful to see Jay-Z not only willing to give that to her but to do it in the video, in front of the whole world. For all his Big Pimpin’, he’s laying at the feet of the woman he loves. Black love is so beautiful. Love is never linear, there will be ups and downs, so “Forward”. As Evelyn from the Internets said Beyonce called James Blake out of whatever forest in Narnia he resides to contribute to several tracks on the album.

Resurrection
“the act of causing something that had ended or been forgotten or lost to exist again, to be used again.”

It was great to see Michaela DePrince, the ballerina who was adopted from Sierra Leone orphanage and is now a lead ballerina with the Dutch National Ballet, so primly featured in #Lemonade. I believe the older lady convo is saying all these young women want a husband because it makes them feel better than the next girl. But they need is real love. L-O-V-E. That is not necessarily tethered to a man.

I entirely lost it when I saw Mike Brown’s mother Lesley McSpadden. I knew it was coming with the face of Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sabrina Fulton, then Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr. Just all that pain in Lesley’s face, evoked so much emotion. However, I am remised if I don’t ask: Beyonce, sis, where was Sandra Bland’s mother? Was she booked?

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Hope
“to cherish a desire with anticipation.”

Freedom is my favorite video or segment in Lemonade but it pains me to say I wanted more from this collaboration
with Kendrick Lamar. His verse doesn’t coalesce into the potential powerfulness of the song.

Redemption
“the act of making something better.”

“Grandmother, the alchemist, you spun gold out of this hard life”
Literally Jay-Z’s grandmother Hattie was the inspiration for the title of this album and Blue looked so cute in that clip. peeking behind the chairs.  We are reminded that “nothing real can be threatened.” Real love will last through the test of time.
Lemonade for me had a very redemptive feeling, just in the nod it gave to Black women. Whether she’s singing about the pains of heartbreak
of wanting acknowledgment
of owning our bodies
of throwing up that middle finger
of forgiving
of coming back together again…

7It just feels damn good that Beyonce took her national stage to give us a voice. She did it at exactly the right moment, because there’s currently no star that commands a bigger audience than her. Beyonce had them all tuning in from the Becky’s to the ignorant Piers Morgan, digesting how great and glorious it is to be a Black woman.

Tags : beyonceblack feminism
Jouelzy

The author Jouelzy

Jouelzy is a #SmartBrownGirl, Author, Vlogger & Writer, addressing lifestyle issues that impact women of color from beauty, culture to technology. With 162k+ subscribers she's reshaping the image of women of color, who honor their right to revel in their diversity. Find her on Twitter Shop #SmartBrownGirl