Hello good people,
As you can probably tell, I’m in a surprisingly fantastic mood as I write this. I’m still breathing, it’s sunny outside, my book is nearing release (I’ll be talking about that more in detail soon), and Beyoncé has graciously dropped her highly anticipated 6th album. Although I, like her millions of fans across the globe, knew she would be debuting the mysterious Lemonade on HBO, I was rocked by the tragic news of Prince’s passing. I couldn’t, and still can’t, believe music lost such a heavy hitter. I mean in all honesty, Prince had to be the most innovative and prolific musician the world has ever seen. Since his death, I’ve been jamming to hits like “Diamonds and Purples”, “Musicology”, “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Adore”, and of course the classic “Purple Rain”. So in a way, I’ve been mourning the death of a music titan. While I knew a Beyoncé video project was premiering this past Saturday, I wasn’t expecting an album. I kind of thought she would push back the release of an album, and it would be a Prince only weekend (minus the video premiere). However, Bey graciously dropped what may wind up being my favorite album from the Queen ever.
Where Beyoncé saw the artist own her sexuality and define what feminism meant to her, Lemonade tells the story of true love. Drawing on what many think is her own personal experience, the 34 year old describes what REAL love is with this latest project. Despite the fairy tale Disney portrayed to us growing up as kids, love is not easy nor simple. Couples go through ups and downs in relationships. It’s not all about hand holding and lip locking. On one or two occasions, couples will face a make or break moment in their relationship, and it’s that real love that each person clings to in order to find their way back to happiness should they stay together. And I for one, am glad Beyoncé gave the world this musical lesson on love.
Does this latest project crank out a lot of club bangers? Nope. Not really. But who cares?!?!? The raw emotion, the spot on lyrics, the features, the mixing of genres, and the overall freshness from her is purely amazing. And then to see the innovative and breathtaking visuals from the HBO special paired with the tracks. Let’s just say I still have chills. But anyway, let’s get into my thoughts on each track and the accompanying images shown this weekend.
- Pray You Catch Me
I was immediately drawn in by this song. The very first line, had me hooked.
You can taste the dishonesty it’s all over your breath.
I was saying to myself “Ooo Bey! I like this kind of carrying on right here. Tell me more.” And she did. In what can be described as a sultry gospel tone, she sings words that leave you to recall those moments in life when the actions of your significant other left you insecure about your future together. There is something so honest about the song, and the glammed down images you see of this creole legend. This is the type of song I’ll listen to when I’m by myself, and have removed the masks I sometimes put on for others. Self-reflection time.
- Hold Up
Releasing a track over an island beat, isn’t necessarily new for Beyoncé. “Baby Boy” and “Standing on the Sun” can attest to that fact. But “Hold Up” is different. Disguised in the cheery beat, are lyrics that pretty much question how a man that you’ve loved and held down, could be so quick to risk throwing it away for someone that doesn’t hold a candle to you. How a man will cheat or flirt with the idea of cheating with a person that has done nothing for him, but look his way and perhaps spread two legs. I love the track. And to have her wielding a bat in the video while singing this song was quite captivating. Who knew the hot sauce she brags about carrying in her bag on “Formation” is actually the name of the bat she was breaking windows with. Check it!
Clearly Beyoncé will be the one that would “rather be crazy.” Can’t say I blame her.
- Don’t Hurt Yourself
This rock inspired hit, was again one that got me from the very beginning. The first few bars consisted of words we all have wanted to say to a cheating ex (or current).
Who the f*ck do you think I am
You ain’t married to no average b*tch boy
You can watch my fat a** twist boy
As I bounce to the next d*ck boy
And keep your money, I got my own
Get a bigger smile on my face, being alone
So basically this an R-rated version of “Irreplaceable”, and I’m here for it. The ratchet poeticism combined with the rock melody and feature of Jack White, make this song a hands down hit. I personally love the fact that Beyoncé went outside her R&B roots and acclaimed pop comfortability, and tried her hand in rock. Kudos to her!
While I genuinely am obsessed over all the new music, and believe me I am, “Sorry” is my favorite. Not only can those that like to dance do a little twerk to the beat, but the words are very much a lighthearted “screw you” to a current or former love that has done you wrong. I can imagine hopping in a car with friends this summer blasting this, and having a great time. Heck I’m listening to it right now, bopping and smiling. The song makes you feel carefree.
If the music wasn’t reason enough to like this track, seeing another queen in her own respect shake a tail feather should have made you fall head over heels for “Sorry”. Watching Serena Williams, the greatest modern day athlete, cozy up to Bey and dance was perhaps the highlight of my Lemonade viewing experience.
Oh and someone warn Becky with the good hair. LOL!
- 6 Inch
This is probably the only possible club banger on the album minus “Formation”. While I’ve never been a fan of The Weekend, I’m a fan of this Beyoncé collaboration. It’s sleek. It’s sexy. And It’s just bad ass. I can picture girls (and guys) in the club grinding, swing their hair (if they have 22 inches), and having a stank expression on their face signifying they know what they’re doing on the dance floor. Song gets my approval. And Bey’s fashion choices in this particular segment of the Lemonade video is not a game.
- Daddy Lessons
I’m going to be honest here. I was so glad to see Mathew Knowles actually associated with a present-day Beyoncé project. It’s none of my business, but I’ve been under the impression the relationship between her and her dad was strained at best. So once more, glad to see Mathew. Him playing with Blue Ivy was precious.
Now as far as the actual song, I like it. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite, but I definitely still like it. She again crossed the aisles of music genres, and tried her hand in country. And the “Texas bama” was successful. If she gets a Grammy nomination in a bluegrass category for this cut, I won’t be shocked.
- Love Drought
“Love Drought” seems to describe the crossroads anyone that has ever been in love and in a relationship will come across. You are enamored with your significant other, but there is so much pain and hurt to overcome, you must decide if it’s worth it. Once you decide it’s worth it, then you have to fight hard and put in a lot of work. And that requires a willingness to want to forgive, paired with a strength to be able to actually do that. Clearly in the video, and perhaps in real life, Bey opted to choose the “baptismal” path of starting over, to hold onto a man she loves. Not to get deep on y’all. LOL!
By the way, this again is a homerun musically.
This is where things get emotional. I don’t know if Beyoncé has ever been as vulnerable and raw like she was with not only the song, but the video as well. I mean the way she sings the lyrics, I can just about feel the trembling and see the tears she shed while recording in a sound both. Then to see her fresh faced and weaveless (I think), face to face with Jay Z was honestly extremely beautiful. Who doesn’t like to see love triumph over obstacles? And it doesn’t matter if this project is based on real events or not, you can tell the two superstars adore each other very much. Heck “Sandcastles” will make you think about that one great love you have, or had, and ready to ball your eyes out.
Listen, a Beyoncé and James Blake collaboration is a moving thing. The track is kind of short, but it is still effective. To feel the impact of “Forward” you have to watch the visuals of Lemonade. You have to see the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown holding pictures of their dead sons. I don’t know what it feels like to have a child and lose him, but I can imagine the incredible strength it took to be a part of this Beyoncé video. Outside of being the track that initiates the beginnings of her own musical political revolution (No Bernie Sanders), “Forward” is obviously also about trying to move past pain in general.
My take away from this is a “winner doesn’t quit on himself.” Whether you’re fighting for your relationship, your dreams, or social justice, keep fighting. That’s the message I walked away with after listening to “Freedom.” And when Kendrick jumped on the track, I was ready to hit the street for every wrong done to me and others, and was emboldened by a sense of resiliency. I’m still thrown by the person in feathers walking around the table leading into the song in the video, but I’m sure a few more views and things will start become a bit clearer.
- All Night
This was the perfect ending, or should I say beginning, of this 6th studio album from the Queen. It was a hopeful and uplifting cut, that showed sometimes love can be the glue that holds people together and provides them an opportunity for a new start. Maybe it was seeing Blue Ivy, or Tina Knowles and her new hubby, or the array of gay and straight couples, but I finished watching HBO at the ten o’clock hour smiling with almost a tear of joy. Without a single track on the album called Lemonade, it is this song that makes you realize the function of the title.
This song and video is just a five out of five as far as I’m concerned. Not sure if it ties that well into love story of album, but I’m a fan. The only thing to make it better, was if Kendrick dropped a verse or two on it. Or maybe a female emcee(s) instead, given that many folks view this as a black female empowerment song. Perhaps Salt N Pepa would have been a great fit. Throwback I know, but I think they would have made an interesting feature on this bonus track. Bonus track in my eyes at least.
All in all, there is nothing I didn’t like!!! Although, I’m left to wonder how much of this album draws from personal experiences. But that ain’t none of my business. I’m just thankful for real music from a lady that continues to push herself to do more than her usual. If she doesn’t get an Emmy nomination for her HBO special and the highly regarded Album of the Year Grammy for the music, I’m going to be pissed. Did I mention I’m a Beyoncé fan. LOL!