I love Beyoncé more than almost anything or anyone. Let me tell you why.
It started on a random day in December of 2013, the 13th, a Friday. I was sitting at the dining room table, skimming Pitchfork's website, when I saw the headline that Beyoncé surprise released her self-titled first visual album. Which would become the fastest selling digital album and go on to change the music industry. Of course at that point all I knew was that I had to download all of this and put it onto my phone.
The next day I was at choir concert listening to that fantastic and life-changing album. Nobody else there knew the album existed, or even who Beyoncé was. At that point in my life that album was all that mattered. you couldn’t tell me shit when “Flawless” came on, still can’t! That song meant more to me than just for that reason, as someone who had extremely low self-esteem, it lifted me up. No matter how bad I feel or if someone tries to bring me down, I am solid on who I am and that is directly correlated to her and that album. That album along with Malcolm X and Lupita Nyong'o in particular are the few reasons I’m still alive.
After two plus years, I was waiting for a new album, even though “Flawless Remix” and “7/11” are everything. There were sightings of her shooting videos down in New Orleans, chatter about her new album from people like BOOTS. I was so ready. Then it was announced that she would be supporting Coldplay at the Super Bowl. The day before she blessed the entire world with “Formation”. I probably listened to it 20 times that night. The visuals were of the high quality that she showed on her self-titled release. From her drowning the police car to the child dancing in front of the police was pitch perfect. My favorite visual though is her riding around in the el camino.
At the super bowl she came out and slayed. So much so that people decided they should go to the NFL headquarters to boycott. No one showed up though, so all the counter protesters just hung out celebrating the queen. A few weeks later a mysterious trailer showed up on her YouTube account. It heralded a world premiere event on HBO and no one exactly knew what it would be. Then another, longer, trailer showed up with some more imagery. Then that Saturday I was at work it and checked Facebook to see a post from Beyoncé that said Lemonade the visual album was ready to stream on TIDAL. I wish that you could see the security footage of me jumping around, falling out, and generally just being excited as all hell. I drove home once we closed up, as fast as I could while blasting Self-Titled. I quickly got on to TIDAL and streamed the Lemonade movie.
I was in awe. The visuals, the story, and the music are the best things she has ever released. From the opening notes of music to the end of the credits, I was enraptured. Hearing the music connected with those images made it more powerful and intimate. From the mothers of Eric Garner and Michael Brown during “Forward,” to Jay Z lying at the feet of his wife and, of course, Beyoncé throwing her ring away.
The music is spectacular as well, songs like “Sorry,” “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” “Freedom,” and “Hold Up” are fantastic. The Caribbean tinged “Hold Up” is a perfect summer song, from the warm melody, to the endlessly catchy chorus. As well as linking to the idea of a world where Jay Z never gets to be with Beyoncé. The Led Zeppelin sampling “Don’t Hurt Yourself” with its ferocity and anger about a man that has scorned his wife has one of the best uses of the spoken word on Lemonade.
“If this is what you truly want, I can wear her skin...over mine.
Her hair, over mine.
Her hands as gloves.
Her teeth as confetti.
Her sternum, my bedazzled cane.
We can pose for a photograph. All three of us, immortalized.
You and your perfect girl.”
“Sorry” is the one that should not have worked. So much is happening and yet it all comes together in the end to be a standout track. The visuals for this song are especially great. From Serena Williams twerking (Lord have mercy she is so fine), to a whole bus name boy bye, to the sacred art of the ori on each of the dancers, and the switch up at the end. “Freedom” is one of those songs that will get you hyped no matter what, the Just Blaze beat is amazing, the chorus is strong, and the imagery throughout of her challenging the weather is beautiful.
All the talk about this album though has been about Jay Z cheating and yes that is a part of the story. The real story of this album and movie is ultimately about sacrifice, humility, and forgiveness. Jay Z failed. He then had to sacrifice himself wholly to his wife and be humble in all to get Bey to even consider taking him back. This album was her coming to grips with this and in the end she found forgiveness. Which probably was tied to forgiving her father for his infidelity as well. This results in the triumphant sound and shining visuals of “All Night.”
Lemonade is not only Beyoncé’s best work, but one of my favorite albums. From the sharp songwriting with catchy choruses, powerful storytelling, and fantastic melodies. Along with some of the best production that you can find throughout music. Lemonade is a spectacular work of art and deserves to be celebrated by everyone.
by Addison Garry (@addisonagarry)