Featured, Music, Pop Culture

10 Thoughts About Beyoncé and Her “Lemonade”

Unless you literally live under a rock – there’s a good chance that those who live in caves are up on game, MetroPCS is out here winning – you are either aware, have seen, or have had at least two lengthy conversations about Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade, that debuted on HBO on Saturday night, complete with the release of her sixth studio album of the same name on Tidal during the special. Since Saturday night, social media has been ablaze with tweets, IG posts, and commentary about Yoncé and the latest addition to her catalog.

I had some thoughts. And because sharing is caring, I will share them, though all of these are less specific to Lemonade and more about everything surrounding Lemonade. I guess I’m a white journalist.

1. I was one of those people who ‘pacifically did not get Tidal. On purpose. I was already paying for Spotify and because of that there’s almost no reason to get Tidal, even for those artists who exclusively release music via Tidal. I have all of Jay, Kanye, and Beyonce’s albums. I managed to download The Life of Pablo without subscribing to Tidal so I was ahead of the game. And let’s be real, none of these people are stupid; limiting your musical output to one single streaming service shortchanges a money stream. They are all business people on top of being musicians. Well, this shit all changed on April 21. Prince died. I shed a few purple tears. And then I started reading about how none of his music was available anywhere ELSE but Tidal. Prince was all about being an artist who controlled his art, so any service that purports to be artist-centric in terms of paying artists, well, The Purple One was about that life. If he says Tidal only, he means Tidal only.

So on Friday, April 22, I got Tidal. I own several Prince albums on compact disc. If you’ll remember, I have yet to open up my boxes of compact discs since moving into my home. I wasn’t about to wade in those waters (children wade) so I put on my big girl panties and accepted that this is how big of a deal Prince is: he made me get Tidal.

This is getting long – and yes Virginia, that’s what she said – but this is how much of a great person Prince is, even in death. Because I had to get Tidal to listen to Purple Rain, that means that when Lemonade dropped on Tidal, I was ready to go and devoured it without having to deal with the “dammit I have to get Tidal for this!” mental machinations. See, because I love Prince, I wasn’t even mad I had to cop it to listen, Prince said he’d die for me (or u); the least I could do was up Tidal to listen. On Saturday night? Totally worth it.

All this to say, thank you, Prince.

2. Part of the fun of artistic consumption these days is the social engagement of it all: we’re all watching and listening to these things together. This is both a gift and a curse. It’s a gift because the internet is FULL of the most hilarious and comedic minds ever. It’s a curse because groupthink is real: folks take one story and run like Michael Johnson in 1996. Those of us who were watching were all (yes all) like, is Beyonce about to end this bitch with a sign that says “Jay and I are done”??? It’s definitely her most personal output to date, by far. But I had to re-center myself half way through. It took them motherfuckers YEARS to even acknowledge they were married publicly, all of a sudden Beyonce is gonna put ALL their business out on front street? I don’t care how pissed she is (or has been) at Jay, that’s a tall order for a couple of the most famous and powerful people in the entertainment industry and world who enjoyed years playing coy.

3. The visuals for Lemonade are absolutely amazing. Stunning, even. Once I finally figured out what the hell was happening, and yes it took me a second, I was able to step back and truly appreciate the art being presented. Shit was beautiful. The weaving of the songs into the poems by Warsan Shire, who I’d never heard of before Saturday night (similar to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie before “Flawless” – thank you Beyonce), was super well done. Queen Bey and her team put their foots all up and through this short film. And even though Deep Beyonce is a hard sell, it still worked beautifully.

4. With that being said, listening to the the album as part of the visual presentation is better than when listening to it without them. This is NOT to say that the album isn’t good. It’s a super personal, concept album and I enjoy it a lot. Listen to it all the times. Just Blaze murked “Freedom” and her vocals, in the parlance of those who slay, slayed. I’ve given it multiple listens at this point so I could put some respeck on Beyonce’s name and because before I go speaking about something, I like to have at least SOME idea of what I’m talking about. Plus it’s Yonce. Ain’t no way I wasn’t about to delve into it. Watching the film adds so many layers that aren’t necessarily there when listening. I found myself skipping some tracks. For instance, “Sorry” just doesn’t play the same way without watching Serena Williams put some stank on it.

5. Which gets to a point about the film, got damn! There was so much symbolism and so many easter eggs for which I’m not well enough versed to discuss. But scrolling through Facebook and seeing article upon article about this fact or that facet of the film lets me know that Beyonce had one mission with this film: whatever the next level is, Beyonce said, I want that level. She probably wrote the words “change the game” on the white board before strategizing and if somebody had an idea that wasn’t part of that mentality, they were fired.

6. Speaking of Facebook, it is AMAZING how many articles were produced between 10pm Saturday night and noon Sunday. It’s almost as if all of us who write (myself included, but I wanted to listen to the album several times first) immediately went into our thought-boxes to figure out how we were going to write about it. Be clear, I don’t care how many articles already exist, I’d wager that nearly every single person who writes about music and or culture will share their opinions, no matter how grand or small, somewhere. This again, is a gift and a curse. I saw a lot of people talking about who should or shouldn’t and who can or can’t write about Lemonade. And I think that’s unfair. This site included. No shots fired at Dame because I get the point being made and we talked about it. No Becky with the good hair issues around here.

But you don’t put your product out – and let’s be clear, no matter what the intent, it’s art – for public consumption on motherfucking HBO intending for EVERYBODY and their mama to watch it and then believe that only a segment of the population has a true protective right to speak on it. It ain’t like it ran on PBS after Sesame Street. I realize that it’s probably not Beyonce’s intent, but seeing so many people on Facebook expressing that effectively white people needed to sit this one out is pure bullshit. While some people – myself included – can’t speak articulately about much of the symbolism in the visual, what I CAN do is use my eyes to look at what I see. I can tell you if something is stunning even if I don’t know what it represents.

I can tell you if music is great or sucks, even if I don’t know the context behind certain lyrics. Until Sunday, I had no idea that Rachel Roy was an alleged sidepiece to Jay. Hell, I forgot she existed. I always thought that the thorn in their side was Rihanna.  I do understand that everybody doesn’t have the nuance to speak with authority on all pieces of art. But I also know that people like Beyonce create art to be consumed by all. I understand the need to protect our art. But I also think that Beyonce created this and pushed it to the masses because she wanted EVERYBODY to see where her artistic head space is. Some folks would get it. Others wouldn’t. But sometimes the folks that don’t need to get dragged across the coals and exposed as frauds who don’t HAVE the context or wherewithal to get some in order to critique art in the event they refuse to learn. A lot of learning can happen from taking the time to write about what you saw.

7. This is Beyonce’s sixth studio album. She is now at the point where I think we’re required to start ranking her albums. Here’s my order: Beyoncé, 4, Lemonade, B’Day, Dangerously In Love, and I Am…Sasha Fierce, which was just awful, save for a few songs. I remember when 4 came out, I didn’t think it was awesome. Revisiting that album has taught me (years ago) that I’m an idiot. I was also wrong about Kanye West’s Late Registration, Common’s Be, and Teedra Moses’ Complex Simplicity.

8. Let’s talk about the Jay angle for a moment. I’m sure Jay heard this album a long time ago. I’m sure they had all the conversations about it while it was being created. I’m sure they’ve gone through and mended all of the fences. At least those that existed before Saturday. And I’m sure when Jay gets asked for the umpteenth time about it, he’ll say, “Beyonce is an artist and one of the greatest to have ever done it. I won’t stop her from creating her art and I stand 100 percent behind her ability to do so.” I also know that when Kanye dropped “Big Brother” on Graduation, Jay said that was Kanye’s version of events and his truth, but shed some light on his side.

My boy and I were talking about this and he was like, if EVER Jay needed some motivation to drop a concept album, this is it. Point is, if Jay drops Lemons next month, I won’t be surprised.

9. I love everything Beyonce has done in the past 3+ years. From the moment she dropped “Bow Down/I Been On” back in like March of 2013 she’s been on this tear that has caused folks to say, “what in the world is Bey doing?” She’s been on full art status and it’s all been worth it. She’s been putting her money where her mouth is and taking stands and showing her personality and giving us the best that she’s got.

10. One last thing, “Formation” doesn’t fit this album. Oh, and Beyoncé has the greatest team of all time when it comes to shutting the fuck up.

Kthxbi.

Panama Jackson

Panama Jackson is pretty fly (and gorgeous) for a light guy. He used to ship his frito to Tito in the District, but shipping prices increased so he moved there to save money. He refuses to eat cocaine chicken. When he's not saving humanity with his words or making music with his mouth, you can find him at your mama's mama's house drinking her fine liquors. Most importantly, he believes the children are our future. You can hit him on his hitter at panamadjackson@gmail.com.

  • I watched this, alone in my bedroom Sunday afternoon. I was amazed. I LOVE the poetic interludes weaved throughout. The visuals added so much power to the words. This is pure art. It drew so many feelings, thoughts and emotions from me. Pricked at pain and joy in my soul. A few moments she sang with such raw emotion…I couldn’t help but feel what she was conveying. I absolutely loved this work from her.

    • MsCee

      I’m right there with you…I literally set aside some time in my day (not an active member of the Bey hive) to watch this and I could not have been more shocked at the level of emotion that it stirred in me. In the words of the great prophet Tupac Shakur…”Had me felling like Black was the thang to be!”

      • The funny thing is, I don’t have HBO and I was with friends when it premiered, and I was like “oh, I missing Lemonade, and I don’t have HBO to watch it” So my friend was all like “do you want to watch it? I have HBO” and I was like “no, I need to watch it by myself”. This was before I knew ANYTHING about the content. I woke up and signed in to Tidal (with some ill gotten credentials) and watched it alone…and I’m just like…that was the BEST decision I’ve ever made. LOL plus the man who the album made ME think of was there with the friends…it would have been ugly.

        • NonyaB

          Dude had a narrow miss!? There were many Twitter comments from chicks who were glad they broke up with a trifling ex before lemonade AND from chicks who felt like cutting their BFs just for being there with them while watching because they realized they needed to watch it alone. Some other comments went up in prayer for dudes watching with their GFs.

    • NonyaB

      Yep. Very well done. Like I said above, I had a million thoughts while watching.

  • Kim

    Precisely…Beyonce done took it to whole ‘nother level (chris rock voice). I never bought a Beyonce album before but today, today i spent 17.99 so I can watch Lemonade at leisure.

    Oh and Rachel is just a messy h03 looking for relevance with her wack a$$ stunts. I hope beyhive drags her ’til the pink scalp.

    • Jacqueline

      Once the beyhive stops messing with Rachel Ray, they may buzz over to Rachel Roy, but something tells me it will have lost its sting. LOL

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Giiirrrllll….The Hive got sting for years. It ain’t going no where. Lol

        • GirlMelanie86

          Right, You see they still give Keri Hilsom h3ll after all this time.

        • Jacqueline

          Ok – I will take your word for it…are you testifying as a member of the hive? LOL

          • ChokeOnThisTea

            Girl, I’m testifying as a former victim of theirs. Lol! But that was in the past. Thanks to “Lemonade,” I might be joining them soon.

      • mssporadic

        Roy made her IG private after they dragged her, so they moved to her teenage daughter.

        • Illumina

          Which is pretty sick and unhinged, IMO. This girl has nothing to do with her mom’s mess.

        • Jacqueline

          Are you serious? These people really need to get a life.

          • Mary Burrell

            Somebody needs some Hot Shot or Raid for that crazy hive.

        • Mary Burrell

          That’s sick.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      Her and Kim K. who tried to upstage Bey with instagram pics. I was like, “Ho, sit down. We ain’t interested in your prosthetic hips and as s today.”

      • Kim

        lmao You know Kim is still seething from the bed selfie Beyonce dropped on her wedding day.

        • ChokeOnThisTea

          Her AND Kanye. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put her up to it.

      • Asiyah

        And this is why I wasn’t on that “Kim is celebrating femininity!’ when she put up those n*ked pics of hers that everybody was talking about. Do you, hon, but I can definitely call you out on your thirst and narcissism. Sit down and wait your turn. It’s not your day!

    • Marc.J.H.

      It’s pretty bad that I have to keep going to Google every time I hear the name Rachel Roy. This is the third time today I asked myself who the fk is that?

      • Mary Burrell

        I think she is Damon Dash’s ex wife.

      • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

        She is Damon Dash’s ex wife. She is involved in the fashion world.

      • Kim

        Please don’t, that’s what her corn ball assss wants people to do.

  • Jordan Hora

    Another reason why Panama will always be a favorite writer of mine.

    • panamajackson

      Why, thank you!

  • ChokeOnThisTea

    Kudos to you for:

    a) Ranking “B’day” above “Dangerously In Love” & “I am…Sasha Fierce.”
    b) recognizing the gloriousness that is Teedra Moses’ “Complex Simplicity”
    c) admitting that you (or anyone at this point) is not well versed enough to discuss Lemonade…right now. My suggestion is for VSB to either write a book or breakdown the album song-by-song over the course of the next few weeks. Perhaps two articles (one for the lyrics and the other for the video) per song. Lol

    • I’d tune in faithfully for that.

    • panamajackson

      I’m not sure anybody will care in a few weeks. Drake is coming out on, what, Friday? lol

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Y’all write articles on chicken and baseball and STILL draw in crowds. If y’all write about Lemonade a few weeks from now, people will care. Lol!

      • TheCollinB

        Nothing Drake has released associated with Views is worth mentioning. Which leads me to believe Views is gonna be his Blueprint 2.1 and we need to be paying attention to who’s up next.

  • 1) I do love this album and the direction she’s taking. I think it will take me a couple more watches to understand exactly what the film and the poems are trying to convey, some things have flown over my head.

    2) I reached the same conclusion yesterday that “Formation” does not fit this album (just like “Run The World” doesn’t belong on “4”). The story is just so much more cohesive without it, even though it bangs it should have been cut.

    3) I kinda agree with your order of the Top 3 Bey albums (I’d swap DIL and B’Day, though). There’s temptation when something is new, fresh and moving to over-value it, so I was itching to call this her best album, but time and perspective to mull it over will tell. It’s for sure her most visually moving piece.

    4) I’d be here for a “Lemons” from Jay- Z.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      Bwahaha @ “Lemons” from Jigga

      • Sigma_Since 93

        Bey took Jay’s lemons and made Lemonade!

    • Yea, that’s why I think it’s just kinda tacked on at the end. In the movie version…it’s not even a real part. Just let the beat play over the credits.

  • Beyoncé’s albums ranked:
    1.4
    2. Lemonade & B Day
    3.Dangerously in Love
    4. Beyoncé
    5.I am Sasha Fierce

    • This is a perfect list! … I put Beyoncé before Dangerously in Love though.

    • ChokeOnThisTea

      THANK Y’ALL FOR RECOGNIZING “B’DAY!” I feel that album did not get the respect it deserved (even though it was respected).

      • They don’t want to let her be great, ChokeOnThisTea!

    • panamajackson

      I’m surprised that Beyonce is so far down your list. Since Sasha Fierce is pretty universally recognized as not good, whats the thought behind Beyonce being only better than that. Just curious.

      • That’s how GOOD Beyonce is, lol! Even a great album can be #4 on the list. I’ll let IsitFridayyet? answer. :)

      • I couldn’t listen to Beyoncé all the way through more than once. With 4, I listened to it beginning to end for months. Self- titled had great moments but it wasn’t cohesive to me.

        • Same here. Beyoncé also felt like a much-too-perfect attempt to get the Pitchfork crowd on her side after I Am Sasha Fierce. Lemonade seems like a much more integrated version of her musical self. Maybe that’s why it’s more listenable.

          • panamajackson

            That’s so interesting. So far, I skip tracks on Lemonade. I always listen to Beyonce straight thru. It’s always interesting to see how different people receive the same works of art.

            • You’re definitely not a hipster, so maybe I’m being too hard on the album. Maybe Beyoncé just doesn’t resonate with me at this point in my life.

            • GirlMelanie86

              I skip because like you said, I like the album but it isn’t the same without the visual for me. I didn’t realize how much the visual impacted the music until I listened to it without it. It’s weird cuz this is the 3rd time she’s done this visual album concept and I didn’t feel that way before.

        • Brandon Allen

          I feel like Lemonade is what Beyonce wanted to make with Beyonce but didn’t have the energy/inspiration to do it in that fashion.

          • TheCollinB

            I think you’re correct sir.

    • LehcarB

      4 is always # 1 for me too.

  • ChokeOnThisTea

    The fact that this woman consistently continues to outdo herself is what boggles my mind. Back in ’08, I honestly thought the “Single Ladies” video would be the ‘Thriller”/height of her career, but 8 years later and I’ll be da mned.

    • She really went all out with this project. It isn’t your typical Pop album. I loved it!

    • It’s so good, I need to go create something myself now.

      • NonyaB

        That’s the best type of motivation!

    • Word. Who gives a F about Single Ladies now? It’s like she decided before dropping the Beyonce album to reboot her entire career. It’s almost like Hollywood stars who decide to do art house films once they get their shine.

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Right. And Single Ladies was HUGE and unprecedented. When you make something as great as “Single Ladies” look “mediocre,” then you GOTTA be bad!!!!

      • Janelle Doe

        Spesking of single ladies…Now that i have seen this. Curious: Is anyone else wondering what Taylor Swift is doing right now?

    • fxd8424

      I read an article in Vibe some years ago (still have it in fact) about Beyoncé going solo after Destiny’s Child. It talked about the success of the group and basically said, it remains to be seen if Bey could make it on her own. I often think about that article. I guess they got their answer. She answered it – big time.

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        Whoever wrote that article must have been trolling because I KNOW he or she already knew the answer to that question. HE LL YES!

        • panamajackson

          I’m not sure though. Her first few albums weren’t THAT great. For instance, Dangerously In Love had some good songs, but as an album, it was just okay. B’Day sounded like Bey jacked Amerie’s vault and re-recorded her vocals. I Am…Sasha Fierce, well, we know how that one ended. 4 is the first one that I think folks pretty universally loved. So she had some proving to do on the album end. As a performer, she was fine. But from an artistic and album perspective, she wasn’t a sure thing until 4 albums in, and even that could have been a fluke.

          • DBoySlim

            I thought I was the only one who noticed the Amerie mimic. Either that or the hive had folks too shook to say it out loud.

            • No, when B’Day came out, a lot of people mentioned the Amerie thing.

            • ChokeOnThisTea

              Beyonce copies EVERYBODY. The thing is, she just does it better.

              • Steal, don’t borrow.

              • DBoySlim

                Like Picasso said “The bad artists imitate, the great artists steal.”

              • pls

                EVERYBODY copies everybody.

                I heard a song on the radio the other day talmbout “panda panda panda” and it was NOT Future Hendricks rap/sing/talking! Sounded exactly like him.

                • Nik White

                  That must but Designer.

            • Ari

              Green Light was like an extension of One Thing.

            • TheCollinB

              Rich Harrison is still getting Crazy In Love checks. That Amerie sound made that man never have to work again.

          • Ari

            Basically, there are the pre-Matthew albums, and then there are the post-Matthew albums.

          • ChokeOnThisTea

            Oh, I definitely agree. I honestly think Dangerously In Love was one of her worse albums, but if memory serves me correctly, it was HUGE. People loved it and that album was the one that gave her permission to REALLY go solo (after she gave Destiny’s Child one last pity album of course). For those of use who appreciate lyricism and not just visuals, you’re right. But a lot of folk loved her in spite of the bubblegum mediocrity that was “Sasha Fierce” and “DIL.”

            • HeyBooHey

              I remember, DIL was a big deal because of Crazy in Love but the album as a whole was meh. And Sasha Fierce almost doesn’t exist to me. Crazy how she’s shifted drastically since those two albums

              • pls

                Did ya’ll not catch the funk and soul that was on Dangerously in Love? Live horns on a pop/r&b song in the early 00s?

                Naughty Girl,
                Rather Be With You,
                Baby Boy,
                Me Myself and I,
                Speechless,
                Crazy In Love,
                Gift From Virgo,
                The Closer I Get To You

                …those are all on that one album. It was a big deal because it was a big deal! *cries*

          • fxd8424

            Actually, this article was before her debut album. (I just checked my archives).

          • pls

            She def had to pay her dues, and she has. But to discredit Dangerously In Love AND B’Day??? Two of the most classic albums in her catalog?? At the same time?? They both did incredibly well; Dangerously In Love had 5 #1 hits alone.

            I have Amerie’s first 3 albums, and they each have like 2 gogo inspired songs. That wasn’t her sound, it was Rich Craft’s, and he gave it to Bey. Nobody, not even you, wants to hear Amerie strain over those drums.

            People really didn’t want to like Bey, and still don’t, but she was undeniably good.

        • fxd8424

          No, actually it wasn’t a troll. It was one Mimi Valdes, a contributor at the time and later, Editor-in-Chief of Vibe.

      • Brandon Allen

        It reminds me of Lebron. All the hype was there and she lived up to it and exceeded it.

    • Asiyah

      I hate “Single Ladies,” so I’m thrilled (pun intended haha) that it wasn’t her peak. I’m happy to see that she has so much ambition and motivation to be a better version of herself. It’s admirable.

      • ChokeOnThisTea

        The song sucked, but I was refering to the video. The video was/is insane. So much so, that it gave the song life.

  • Glo

    “Point is, if Jay drops Lemons next month, I won’t be surprised.” I cackled.

    I don’t know how anyone expects me to get work done today. I’ve been consistently on the verge of tears since Prince died, and when I watched Lemonade, I was in ALL of my feelings. I cried off and on throughout the entire film, even it parts when it didn’t make sense. Serena twerking in all of her glory made me cry. All of the random cameos from the magical black girls of this next generation made me cry. The spoken word made me cry.

    Basically, I’ve been a hot mess for the last few days and I really, truly needed to call in black to work today.

    • Kendra Osuoji

      YES, YES, and YASSSSS, I have not been able to keep focus all day, I feel like I’m losing my blackness, not being able to see her work til I get home.

    • MsCee

      This, all of this. Calling in like, as a Black woman I just need a few days to process all this Black Girl Magic going on right now!

    • GirlMelanie86

      OMG YESSSSSSS this is me all weekend AND today at work

    • “Basically, I’ve been a hot mess for the last few days and I really, truly needed to call in black to work today.”

      This made me chuckle. It’s so real…

  • 1. 4
    2. B’Day & Lemonade
    3. Beyoncé
    4. Dangerously in Love
    5. I Am… Sasha Fierce

    • GirlMelanie86

      I think I agree with this order.

  • I have been waiting for this blog post since morning and it’s 9 pm in Nairobi as I write this. I also felt like formation did not belong to this album it was like a discordant piece in a runway collection.

    I really enjoyed this album and it touched me in ways that amaze me. Whether or not, the speculation about Jay Z cheating are true or not, this is outstanding work.

    • panamajackson

      Sorry. CP Time is real.

      • hahaha no apologies needed. It was worth the wait

    • MsCee

      Yep… Been checking the site since yesterday lol

More Like This