I’ve never really considered myself a real Beyonce fan, but that doesn’t really matter right now. While I still relish in 90’s R&B, from TLC, SWV, Total, Silk, Tank, Jagged Edge, R. Kelly, India Arie, Jill Scott… (well you get the point), here’s what I respect about Queen Bee. She is a true artist and an all around entertainer. She was born to be a star. And well, she’s a marketing genius.
Bey aired a hour long visual of LEMONADE; a compilation of new songs and videos on HBO Saturday night. We’d soon discover, immediately after the film, that LEMONADE had been made available, as a visual album, on music streaming service Tidal.
If you watched the short-film then you, among millions, may have concluded that there are some problems in the singer’s marriage with fellow musician Jay Z. But not so fast. LEMONADE is not just about a cheating husband. It was an ode to Black women. It’s the ability to overcome hardships and heartaches. It’s the ability to make lemonade out of lemons.
Whether the singer told all the tales of a cheating husband or not, LEMONADE is much more than that. If you take a closer look at the film and analyze the visuals, internalize the words and its concept you’ll realize the messages aren’t so hidden.
There’s a reason Bey chose the array of women she did to be featured in the film. They are Black women of all shades with natural hair and, seemingly, natural curves. They represent every Black woman who’s been hurt, neglected, cheated on, used and abused.
In fact, during the course of the visual we hear a portion of a Malcolm X speech where he states, “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.”
And it goes a bit further, implying that as Black women we try to change who we are to fit into a society that will never fully embrace us. By changing our hair, wearing makeup to mask our features and even change our skin tone.
That line about Becky with the good hair in ‘Sorry,’ it’s about feeling neglected and coming second-best to a woman with more European features. The song is also an ode to being apologetically ourselves; loving our Blackness.
In ‘Hold Up’ when she sings “they don’t love you like I do…” that’s about a Black woman’s ability to love a Black man like no other. The ability to forgive his indiscretions, to be his strength when he’s weak and being loyal even it that isn’t always reciprocated but should be.
The film and singles also showcased the Black woman’s ability to move forward and be resilient in spite of. Much of the same theme and messaging can be found through-out the entire compilation, along with historical images and quotes by prominent Black figures. It’s about women sticking together, creating a sisterhood and building a sense of community for the generations after us. Whether you’re a single mother trying to make ends meet, a woman with daddy issues, a woman scorned by her cheating lover, or a mother whose lost her son at the hand of police, we overcome. We are strong.
Whether you’re a Beyonce fan or not, you’ve got to give credit where it’s due. LEMONADE is, perhaps, her most creative, vulnerable and political body of work. But the marketing genius that she is presented it in a way where the messages weren’t so blatant or abrasive and condescending but in the form of a marriage in turmoil. Smart, right?
As a society we relish in turmoil and drama. If Beyonce took an “in your face” political stance we’d see much more debates and disapproval than that of her Super Bowl half time show (CNN).
You all can rest assure Beyonce and Jay Z aren’t breaking up, or no time soon. After all, she did immediately release the visual album on the music streaming service her husband has a huge stake in. That was not a coincidence.
The album is now available on iTunes.