I start this with a disclaimer. Art is supposed to be subjective. I say that because this article may not be everyone’s cup of tea. I am not a music reviewer of any sort. I haven’t been a musician in almost a decade. But still I am going to write this review. Not sorry.
For the past three days I have been in and out of the emergency room. I have felt like crap. I am facing a whole overhaul of my life yet again this year.
I completely shut out the world today.
I took a “relaxing” bath (more like boiled myself in lavender and oatmeal), did a face mask ( I looked like Michael Myers), and organized my closet (not relaxing but had to be done). After I did all of that my body still felt like it was going to implode.
So I did the one thing that I know actually relaxes me. I sat on the couch, put on my headphones and started to listen to music. Instead of listening to my usual Spotify playlist, I knew exactly what I wanted to listen to. Beyonce’s new album Lemonade. I knew nothing about this album except that the only way I could listen to it is on *Tidal.
I have a love hate for Tidal, but I have a love love for Beyonce. So I set my bias aside to embark on this visual audio experience. So after I joined Tidal, I went straight for The Queen B’s album. I listened to it first all the way through. I liked the different approach to her craft. She went from hip-hop, to country, to beautiful ballads. The variety was amazing, and different from her last album Beyonce. Which was also a personal album about her coming into her own, and had a more hip-hop/club feel to it. But it was the lyrics on Lemonade that I loved.
From start to finish she walked us through her emotions, her feelings of betrayal, her anger in “DON’T HURT YOURSELF”, her seeing history repeat itself in the song “DADDY LESSONS”, as well as the crumbling of her marriage in “LOVE DROUGHT”. Then there was also the reconciliation of her relationship in the song “ALL NIGHT”, to “FORMATION” in which she embraces and celebrates being a beautiful black woman. This is a deeply personal album, beautiful and visceral in its execution. But I have to say listening to it isn’t enough. She calls it a visual album for a reason.
The one hour and five minutes of the art film (what it truly is) that accompanies the audio part of the album, and paired by amazing poetry is truly what brought the words of each song home for me. Which I guess was Beyonce’s whole intention.
It opens up with a slow motion shot of a cornrowed Beyonce, head down. Then cuts to rural ruins (try to say that five times fast), and then her on a stage. Red curtain, bright bulbed lights. She is in all black, no makeup, and a black head wrap. The camera slowly cranes down to her sitting on her knees. All of this while the song “PRAY YOU CATCH ME” is playing. Now I was hooked, the stunning visuals and her vulnerability set the tone for this album. I am used to full glam, “Single Ladies” Sasha Fierce Beyonce, but in these few seconds of the opening, the viewer knows that this is Beyonce. No alter ego nothing, she is bare.
I think the most prominent aspect of the visual part of the album, at least for me is the representation. To see a black women proud and unapologetic. Being able to just be. It was refreshing. To see myself reflecting back in art, a medium that often forgets about us, was and is beautiful. My personal favorite part of the visual album was the song “NOT SORRY”. Where Beyonce and Serena Williams were singing along not sorry. Serena Williams, a black woman, an amazing athlete, and survivor. A woman erroneously labeled as the angry black woman who is constantly made out to be nothing but a stereotype.
She is constantly asked to apologize just for existing and excelling in a prominently white sport. Her every word is scrutinized, her body judged, and demeaned. But seeing her there twerking right next to Beyonce carefree and beautiful mouthing the words not sorry put a huge smile on my face. This album was not only about her struggles through her marriage but her celebrating the black women in her life and all over the world.
As a ex-art student I would like to think I picked up a few insights into the weird, sometimes moving, but mostly weird world of art. Watching Lemonade I felt like I was walking through a gallery. Beyonce separated each section with a word, or a title and then followed it with a poem. Each piece was like a different painting. I was moved by Lemonade’s honesty, it’s obvious artistry, and the fact that someone so big can make something so personal. Lemonade feels more like a look into one of Beyonce’s journal entries than a commercial product.
Art is supposed to capture a moment in time, a feeling. Lemonade does just that. Beyonce took something that was deeply personal and bared her insecurities, threw herself into her art and made something truly beautiful.
*Lemonade is now available on iTunes
Jazmine Joyner is a business owner, an in-between college student, and an active comic book reader. Jazmine resides in Southern California where she lives above her future comic book shop.