Pop queen Beyonce pours all of herself into sixth album
By Alex Woodliff
After releasing her last album in 2013, the self-titled “Beyonce” ,without any publicity, Beyonce has released her latest album “Lemonade” in a similar fashion. The album includes twelve tracks and includes the documentary as well.
After being under much debate from her controversial Super Bowl 50 Halftime show, many fans wondered what new direction the album would go. Being accused by some as anti-law enforcement for using Black Panther Party imagery, a non-violent organization that protected African American citizens, and seen as rightfully embracing her heritage and culture by others, especially with racial tensions being high. Many fans were worried that the album would push away her more PC fan base who were accustomed to “Single Ladies” and “Love on Top” Beyonce, as opposed to the new “Formation” Beyonce who obviously feels she, like most in the public eye, can use their appeal to carry a message. The album does not just celebrate being African-American but also being an African-American woman.
The album and documentary is an intimate look into personal issues surrounding her family and marriage to musician and mogul Jay-Z as well as a celebration of Black culture. The lyrics obviously address Jay-Z’s rumored infidelity as well as finding strength in herself, her skin and her culture.
Opening track “Pray You Catch Me” a simple piano ballad bordering on a Southern Church hymn style with lyrics setting up a major theme for the album, dishonesty and being aware of her lovers dishonesty. “You can taste the dishonesty/It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so carefully/But even that’s a test/Constantly aware of it all/My lone ear/Pressed against the walls of your world”.
The following track “Hold Up” similarly follows, chastising both her lover and the women he is cheating with and testing her lover’s loyalties. Mixing assertive lyrics with an almost playful melody “What’s worse/lookin’ jealous or crazy? Jealous or crazy?Or like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately/I’d rather be crazy.”
Flowing into the next track “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring Jack White of the White Stripes, Beyonce gives her lover an ultimatum “We just got to let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be/Baby, uh, this is your final warning/You know I give you life/If you try this s**t again, you gon lose your wife.”
Another stand out track being “Sorry” about not feeling guilty for a breakup “Middle fingers up, put them hands high/Wave it in his face, tell him, boy bye/Tell him, boy, bye, middle fingers up I ain’t thinking ‘about you”.
“Daddy Lessons” continues the theme of Beyonce examining the relationships with the men in her life, with lyrics running a comparison between father figures and husbands, the positive and negative from both. “When trouble comes to town/And men like me come around/Oh, my daddy said shoot/Oh, my daddy said shoot/ Oh, oh, oh.”
“Freedom” an African American rights anthem featuring rapper Kendrick Lamar depicts the history of violence and oppression inflicted on African Americans in the past and today “I’ma wade, I’ma wave through the waters/Tell the tide, “Don’t move”/ I’ma riot, I’ma riot through your borders/Call me bulletproof.” The lyrics run alongside with a traditional Soul music sound and could almost be seen as a bookend to previously released track “Formation”.
Rounding out the album are tracks “All Night” an up-tempo ballad where Beyonce, now wiser with her love, is willing to give him a second chance, but is fully aware that things will not be as they once were. “They say true love’s the greatest weapon to win the war caused by pain, pain/ But every diamond has imperfections/But my love’s too pure to watch it chip away.”
The final track, the so called controversial “Formation” where Beyonce again acknowledges her heritage, current racial social issues, and rumors. “I see it, I want it, I stunt, yellow-bone it/ I dream it, I work hard, I grind ’til I own it”. The track while released first to generate the most buzz works best as a bookend to the album as a whole.
The album is not a traditional Beyonce album, and in fact the content might go over some fans heads. What it does though is help show that Queen B has a lot to say and is not not afraid to say it, whether it be to spouses or society.