Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” has been on repeat for millions of people since its debut in late April, but the music and visual component of the album have a much deeper meaning than just music.
Beyoncé first caused controversy when she released the video and performed her song “Formation” at the Super Bowl alongside Coldplay & Bruno Mars. The “Formation” video has ties to anti police brutality, hurricane Katrina, loving oneself and the culture, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement as a whole. The video shows a young boy dancing in front of the police, and shows graffiti of the phrase “Stop Shooting Us.” While performing at the super bowl, she and her back up dancers were dressed in modified Black Panther outfits, all black covered with bullets. The song and video were a call from Beyoncé to get more attention on the subject matter and to make it a national topic that maybe the people most hiding from it would have to see and hear what was being said.
Then gained even more controversy when former television host of “The Blaze” Tomi Lahren commented on Beyoncé’s performance and brought up Jay-Z’s past. “This isn’t about equality,” said Lahren. “This is about ramrodding an aggressive agenda down our throats. Beyoncé really?” Lahren continues to go one and dismiss Beyoncé’s message behind the performance, but adds her own message instead. Who knew that within a few months, we would have Lemonade? Beyoncé came and delivered. “Lemonade” has its own syllabus that was created by Candice Benbow, but with help of various black female professors and poets. The syllabus features books (Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and more, poems, songs, and films, and more that go along with the empowerment of African-American women.
Who knew that within a few months, we would have Lemonade? Beyoncé came and delivered. Lemonade has its own syllabus that was created by Candice Benbow, but with help of various black female professors and poets. The syllabus features books (Fiction, non-fiction, biographies, and more, poems, songs, and films, and more that go along with the empowerment of African-American women.
Lemonade goes into depth of the history, art, and emotions of African-Americans, especially African-American women. The visual component of the album displays many beautiful African-American women, many we know like Zendaya, Winnie Harlow, Chloe & Halle, and more. The songs and chapters on Lemonade correlate with one another, and are connected to emotions we have all had at one point in time or another. Lemonade also includes poems between the songs that were written by Warsan Shire. When I say chapters, the “Lemonade” film portrayed different chapter/emotions to went hand in hand with her songs. The chapters shown are Intuition (“Pray You Catch Me“), Denial (“Hold Up“), Anger (“Don’t Hurt Yourself“), Apathy (“Sorry”), Emptiness (“6 Inch Heels“), Accountability (“Daddy Lessons“), Reformation (“Love Drought“), Forgiveness (“Sandcastle“), Resurrection (“Forward“), Hope (“Freedom“), and Redemption (“All Night“), and everything is tired together with “Formation.”
In “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” she quotes one of Malcolm X’s speeches.
“The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
The sad part is that Malcolm X said this decades ago, but it is still true to this day. “Freedom” is definitely a Pro-Black anthem to demand justice, speak up, be heard, don’t give up. The quote goes along with “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” A woman dealing with her man who has cheated on her, or isn’t just treating her right, disrespecting her on different levels; how she has to be strong… Get the full circle idea with that yet? “I’ll motivate your ass/ call me Malcolm X”
The visual for Lemonade helps display the black culture and history. Lemonade features black women with their natural hair out, along with Bantu Knots, Braids, and many more styles deemed “ghetto” by mainstream society. It also displays many different clothing with African prints, along with traditional style clothing is featured as well, especially with “Daddy Lessons.” “Daddy Lessons,” ”Freedom,” and “Forward” were mostly filmed on a plantation. One scene in “Forward” displays the women dressed in all white, working on preparing a meal like how they would on plantations. “Forward” and “Freedom” also features images of slain black men and women being honored in pictures. It also has the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner holding pictures of their sons. “Freedom” ends with all the woman dressed in all white standing in solidarity, which is something we need to do, and help promote.
“Freedom! Freedom! I can’t move/ Freedom, cut me loose!/ Freedom! Freedom! Where are you?/ Cause I need freedom too!/ I break chains all by myself/ Won’t let my freedom rot in hell/ Hey! I’ma keep running/ Cause a winner don’t quit on themselves”
For the VMA’s, Beyoncé brought “Lemonade” to the stage. She performed “Pray You Catch Me,” “Hold Up,” “Sorry,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” and “Formation.” This was amazing to see, beautifully done and executed. Opening with “Pray You Catch Me” and closing with “Formation” was a great message, not just because of the song, but the message behind them and the performance. In her performance of “Pray You Catch Me,” Beyoncé had a scene where she and her background dancers were dressed in all white. At one point each dancer was struck down in a red light, representing being shot down like that many African-Americans who have lost their lives recently based off the color of their skin. I think this was a message that was missed by people. After being “shot,” Beyoncé moved forward on the stage being followed by a black man in a hoodie (supposedly Trayvon Martin) who was walking up behind her to catch her. Beyoncé fell into his arms as the stage went black, and he next transition began to “Hold Up.”
Beyoncé ended her 15 minute performance with “Formation.” The reason this is so significant is because of the lyrics and meaning in the song. For one, the Black Panther women would say “get in formation” when protesting/marching. Second, the lyrics celebrate the African-American culture. Showing pride in what we have been to think was ugly for years (our noses, hair, etc.) At the end of the performance, the background dancers formed an ankh(used in ancient Egypt as a symbol of life), which can also be seen throughout her visual for Lemonade. Beyoncé performed this nationally on television, in front of supporters, haters, and racists, regardless; the message was seen and heard. We have to get in Formation, meaning we have to come together, support one another, support ourselves and the cause. #BlackLivesMatter and by that I mean #ALLBLACKLIVESMATTER we can’t pick and choose. Although “Lemonade” was mostly women, there were black men as well, gay and straight men and women, famous and rich, and non famous; we are one in the same in this cause and have to fight together in this battle, not against each other.