Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Getting Drunk off 'Lemonade' - an editorial on Beyonce's new visual album

"Lemonade" is a visual album by Beyoncé leaving a variety of flavors on those willing to take a sip of her intoxicating music, taking them on a journey through art and spoken narrative intertwined with drops of jarring lyrics.

By Missy Enaje

Do you remember your high school english literature class where you had to dissect portions of classic novels? When your teacher would wait patiently for someone to break down the symbolism behind Charles Dickens' 'it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness...". Well my friend, breaking down the narrative within "Lemonade" is along the same lines: the meaning lies in the eye of the beholder.

First and foremost, let me tell you what this article is not: an over extensive gossip-infused 'he said, she said,' so if you're looking for that, please search #jayz on social media and have fun.

That being said, let's start with peeling the outside layer. 

Click 'Read More' below for the full story 

Bey's Lemons

Three external forces are at play here. One - music ingenuity and the music business. Two - perception. Three - society. 

When I first experienced the album (yes, it's not just a sit-and-listen album, rather a sit-and-watch), it was during the HBO premiere. Visually striking, the video first struck me like I was riding the antebellum South pages in a history book. Except Beyoncé took me to a secret chapter where the  characters were mainly beautiful black women who looked like they called all the shots, a new Manifest Destiny in which women were superior and men were morally obligated to support the institution defined by bustling breasts and hypnotizing hips. On top of all that, the music was so uncomfortably raw as it oozed the sweet sounds of the Beyoncé I missed - when she would sing like the pre-deity Bey on Star Search. This was art in its purest form. 

Production wise - the album's audio did not disappoint. But from the jump, I was so drunk off the visual experience that I missed a vital exclamation mark: is this album about infidelity?

It wasn't until I was able to sit and listen to the album without visuals when the sour taste came crashing down:'Who the **** do you think I is? I smell that fragrance on your Louis neck boy!' came through the speakers on the single "Don't Hurt Yourself."

Needless to say, how else can you explain a brilliant decision by Bey and her team to create such a different experience when it comes to music, especially after the death of music videos and the saturation of digital noise that merely sits on a smartphone and doesn't come to life.

Tell me you caught the opening Trayvon Martin references. Tell me you caught the pinnacle mothers who bore the protagonists in the #blacklivesmatter movement. Tell me you caught the first black "Annie" actress and the flawless two-toned model Chantelle Winnie. Just checking.

I won't rant about the business side of initially releasing the album strictly on her husband's digital streaming service Tidal, but rather flip the switch to the after effects of drinking this lemonade.

Spill the juice

If this album is about infidelity, big on the 'if', then the infatuation with this power couple has reached a level of stratosphere that only NASA can figure out. If this album is about cheating, then Bey has easily created the best Jay-Z diss track since Nas's 'Ether.' If this album is about how the 'other girls' in question got Bey so infuriated, then the Beyhive will bite. 

That's the problem and yet the beauty of the uncontrollable effect of art: it attacks the eyes and the heart of the beholder in the way it is supposed to. 

The interpretation doesn't have a right or wrong answer. For some, this album represents pain in a heart broken by disloyalty, it represents ideals of 'cherchez la femme' in which women hold pistols too so don't piss us off. For some, it is a Basquiat of the black woman rearranged in strokes of the 21st century feminism- the century in which the feminine predecessors of Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Cher, Madonna, and Lil' Kim paved the way.

So why has the backward thinking of groupthink plagued the recipe? Poor Rachel Ray.

Lemonade with a spritz of Vodka

I understand this phenomenon, so yes, get drunk off this artistic expression because now when you hear her music play on the radio or in the club, you will know exactly what part of the film it was. Shake what your mama gave you when you get ready to her songs, but I dare you to fight off popular manipulation because guess what? Becky doesn't exist. 

You easily created an emotion that has been personified in a person you don't even know. The internet has enough cat videos for all this cattiness and envy looming in the strange fruit.

For me, I know I have been playing this album a bit too much because I woke up one morning and was angry at a former flame and the crazy thing is I'm totally at peace with that situation but Bey straight stirred up some emotions I didn't even know existed. 

Just kidding. Not really. 

Honestly, if I can suggest anything at all, it would be to look at your female counterpart, classmate, co-worker, boss and give her a high-five. Because you all are overcoming this here life, while enough case studies exist showcasing how women are not getting enough appreciation, paid time off, corner cubicles, damned if they can get a requested raise

Chin up. Evaluate who or what is truly holding you back and get to making the pages of your own classic novel - your life- stand out like the rock star you truly are.

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