I consider myself to be a Beyonce fan. Not dedicated enough to brave the elements or the crowds to see her in concert. Nor loyal enough to purchase anything she endorses. And certainly not rabid enough to barrage Rachel Roy's (or Rachel Ray's) Instagram comments with lemon and bumblebee emojis amid rife speculation that Rachel (the former) is 'the Becky with the good hair' to which Beyonce alludes in one of her songs from her new visual album, Lemonade. An album laden with allusions and subscript references that is as direct as we can ever expect from a woman whose lips are sealed tighter than Fort Knox when it comes to addressing anything remotely related to her personal life.
Now I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't the tiniest bit interested in what really transpired to evoke the visceral emotion that bleeds through every song on Lemonade. But what I'd rather talk about is the significance, and quite frankly the need for such an album in today's popular music landscape. Because...how do I put this. Music today is crap. No, Fetty Wap, I will not come your waaaayy. No, Yo Gotti, I will not snapchat you that pu$$y. No Drake, I will not give you one dance. Ok...just one but there's no more to be had. Of course, the generations before us have always had the pop stars, but they also had the pioneers. They had the one hit wonders, but they also had the consummate artists. They had catchy bubblegum lyrics that really wasn't saying much, but they also had songs that were so powerful, they sparked revolutions. Today we have...Pit Bull. :'( :'(
I listened to Lemonade in its entirety and I would venture to say that this is not only her best work yet but the best work we've seen from any female popular artist in at least the last 10 years. Now, if you're expecting radio hits with catchy lyrics and cool choreography, those days might be over for Beyonce. And I don't mean in the sense of her incapacity to deliver. I mean in the sense of wanting to create music that does more than get you 'turnt' for a night on the town. The album is a strange mish-mash of sounds that weave in and out of genre and come together haphazardly, but somehow seamlessly, to deliver music that is powerfully potent. Sure, the subject of infidelity is very prominent on the album but there are also songs that directly address subjects that are more relevant and disconcerting than a cheating spouse. Like the under-appreciation of the black woman. And racial discord and injustice. While some have criticized the album as being a perpetuation of the Angry Black Woman stereotype, I think it is anything but. If anything, it is an unabashed exclamation of black pride. But of course, the media and masses would rather extrapolate who could have led Jay Z astray.
Which brings me to the egregious double standard for women and men. Had this album been released by a male artist, words like 'genius' and socially conscious' and 'innovator' would have certainly been in the mix. But in Beyonce's case, she's a jilted wife airing her dirty laundry for public spectacle and album sales. How dare a heartbroken woman sing about heartbreak! Or a black woman sing about being a black woman! Or God forbid, an artist exhibit growth and evolution in her craft. Piers Morgan was none too happy to announce that he preferred the old Beyonce whom he had interviewed 5 years ago and in said interview, asked about her booty in comparison to J.Lo's. Well, news flash Piers, 5 years ago was FIVE YEARS AGO. A barely 30 year old is not almost 35. A wife is now a mother. That is usually the case with the passage of time. Perspectives change. People grow. And if we're lucky enough, we get to experience a metamorphosis that gives way to a better...stronger...wiser version ourselves.
I doubt there's an old Beyonce or new Beyonce. I can only deduce from her medium of expression that this is the 'now' Beyonce. Because like Beyonce, we are always becoming who we are. Every heartbreak Every triumph. Every disappointment. Every single experience shapes and molds us continuously into who we are and who will be. If we can learn anything from Beyonce, it is that when life hands you lemons, make a smash hit visual album. Or just good ol' Lemonade.
Love and Light,