Music Review: Beyoncé’s ‘Lemonade’ is culturally and politically impactful

Miranda Moses

Video Courtesy: Beyoncé.

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I know you’re aware that Beyoncé dropped her long-anticipated sixth album “Lemonade” last Saturday because you’re still picking up the chunks of your brain from when it blew your mind, and because everyone cannot stop talking about the potential truth of Jay-Z’s infidelity with “Becky with the good hair.” (And by the way, it’s not Rachael Ray. Please leave her alone. She’s just trying to show you how to make quiche on the Food Network.)

While the lyrics of this highly-thought-out, visual album seemingly drop hints at the potential fall of the most powerful couple of the Free World, do not focus on the rumors it perpetuates. Instead, take note of the vital messages it presents and the degree to which this album absolutely slays.

“Lemonade” encompasses 12 songs complete with correlating music videos. The collaborations included are unmatched with appearances by The Weeknd, James Blake, Kendrick Lamar and Jack White. Unlike her previous works, such as her self-titled album “Beyoncé,” the Queen produces a project of self-narration that preaches more empowerment to listeners than encouragement to shake their jelly in their freakum dresses.

The spoken word between each song in the film is credited to Warsan Shire, a Kenya-born poet raised in the United Kingdom who has won the Brunel University Inaugural Prize for African Poetry.

The album begins with “Pray You Catch Me,” a song riddled with sadness. But the mood of the album quickly changes pace with “Don’t Hurt Yourself” and “Sorry,” where Bey shouts lyrics like, “Who the f— do you think I is? / You ain’t married to no average b—-, boy.” These lyrics clearly portray her realization that she’s freaking Beyoncé and she doesn’t have time for a man who does her wrong. Again, she’s freaking Beyoncé.

According to Tidal’s description of the album, “Lemonade” is “a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.” This is precisely one of the reasons “Lemonade” is so important. Every woman who listens to it is also freaking Beyoncé. She is not only telling her own story, but she is also creating art that people can hear their own anecdotes within. Her unforgiving lyrics and emotional rawness create a very important type of media for women — a type of media that shows them it is okay to be angry with those who have wronged us, even though we are socialized to automatically forgive.

In “Love Drought,” Beyoncé flawlessly explains, “Nine times out of 10, I’m in my feelings / But 10 times out nine, I’m only human.” These lyrics validate a woman’s right to feel upset and have emotions and encourages them to dismiss the stereotype that having these emotions are somehow too extreme and irrational. Perhaps women shouldn’t go around smashing cars like in her music video for “Hold Up,” but women can find resolution in living this fantasy through Beyoncé’s songs. 

“Lemonade” shamelessly aims to empower and celebrate black women and embraces #blackgirlmagic with on-screen co-stars such as Zendaya, Serena Williams and Quvenzhané Wallace. In the accompanying HBO film, “Don’t Hurt Yourself” quotes a Malcolm X speech. Malcolm X is quoted, saying, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.”

The music video for the head-banging ballad “Freedom” addresses the Black Lives Matter Movement and powerfully features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown holding photos of their departed children. These strong messages prove that this album is a statement of value for black lives, black women and the way black women feel. 

She uses her power as one of the top pop artists in the world to make influential political and cultural statements and did so #flawlessly. The album features a slightly-country tune called “Daddy Lessons.” She brought a new level of voice-holiness in “Sandcastles.” “Forward” will have you crying in your car like you just listened to Drake one too many times. And “6 inch” will have you feeling like you can kill a man with one single glance as your purse overflows with hard-earned cash.

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“Lemonade” is more than just a story of infidelity, heartbreak and the redemption of a relationship that formed and grew in the spotlight. Beyoncé experimented and pushed the limits in both her sound and message. The copulation of sheer quality and the vital messages within this album are addicting and a force to be reckoned with. “Lemonade” is truly a gift given to us by the Queen Bey herself.

Collegian Reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @mirandasrad.