Album Review: Beyonce Serves Up Ice Cold Glass of "Lemonade"

(Parkwood Entertainment)

Beyoncé’s new album dropped Saturday. Titled Lemonade, her new album came with a twist: a video that incorporates the songs from her album in a lengthy, short film-like context. Not only does Beyoncé use the music video mix of her new album to create a backdrop for an artistic rendition of Lemonade; she also incorporates talking parts and monologues throughout the video that describe the artistic content to come in the following scenes. The backgrounds and sets are intense, filled with cultural representations of her heritage and family, scary and grungy garage and red-lit hallways, childhood and interview videos, and nature shots. 

Each mini music video within the larger context of the whole-album video accurately reflects the vibe of the song. Queen B’s hot topics of this album encircle three major themes: husband infidelity, black female oppression (historically and currently), and her heritage. Many scenes reflect the Southern upbringing that Beyoncé had. However, her reflections on love in the album are not positive; Beyoncé spends a lot of lyrics insulting and describing the pain that a man caused her by cheating. One can assume this might be a personal, artistic outlet to marital problems with Jay-Z, or it could be a general reflection of what she has witnessed around her. 

Beyoncé also includes numerous shots of other black women, with different culturally typical hairstyles and outfits that reflect current and historical tradition. Beyoncé seems to heavily delve into reflection of her own family lineage and history of her people while connecting it to her current struggles growing through love and art. In one striking scene, the camera pans from different mothers who hold photos of their deceased sons, assumingly from gang violence or police brutality, two problematic issues the African American community faces. In Lemonade, Beyoncé grounds herself deeper and more reflectively than we have ever seen her. While BEYONCÉ was centered solely on love, sex, and female portrayal, this album and its accompanying video gives fans a much better look into who Queen B is as a person outside of the glitter and off the stadium stages.  

However, though the album delves into a lot of intense issues associated with Queen B’s exploration of her heritage and herself, the album and its video end with a positive light. She states in a monologue, “We will heal.” She is hopefully correct; the African American suppression in America has been persistent for years, turning from blatant forms such as slavery to subtle forms such as structural inequality. In addition, she adds a positive not about relationships after discussing infidelity throughout her album. Whether Queen B is explicitly talking about Jay-Z cheating, a probable assumption, she states, “Our love was stronger than your pride.” This song is accompanied with videos including Jay-Z and B being happy together. The viewer/listener assumes that B forgave the cheating due to the broader picture of their strong love and future as a happy couple who can forge past a mistake. It is to be seen if she is talking about her family with Jay-Z and Blue Ivy, but all the video included of her happy family insinuates such. Beyoncé ends Lemonade on a positive note in comparison to its beginning, ending the credits with her previously released music video of “Formation.” Queen B, yet again, you slay. This time, you slay on a level deeper than discussing curves and boys; delving into the messy historical content of being an African American woman in America in a long term relationship in the public eye deserves praise.

Stream Lemonade over at Tidal.