Album Review: “Lemonade” by Beyoncé

Cover art (Parkwood and Columbia)

Jasmyn Webb, News Editor

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“Lemonade,” the innovative visual album by Beyoncé, has surprised and shaken the world with its utter rawness and darkness. The album exhibits another side of Beyoncé, showing the emotions and sentiments of her personal life. This visual album grants the audience a distinctive outlook on the rare side of Beyoncé – a woman behind the music, money, and fame – a human being.

The video was released on April 23, the hour long show being aired and streamed from HBO, the album’s release following soon after.

The video begins with a platform of distrust, wrath, vengeance, and treachery, before exploring reconciliation. Its stark visuals sprinkle through the songs, decorating them with riveting poetry from the Somali-British writer Warsan Shire, and captivating film that exudes the excellence and power of female harmony and family, Southern and African roots, women of all roles and eras.

Beyoncé is joined by African American women in white clothing, reenacting shared work and eerie collective rituals. She has multiple hairstyles and looks that are both glamorous and gritty: hard-faced, hopeless, and sweaty.

The title “Lemonade,” comes from a family gathering that’s displayed in the video and heard in a track: the 90th birthday of Jay-Z’s grandmother, Hattie White, who says, “I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”

The epitome of a powerful black woman, Beyoncé is unapologetic with this visually arresting album. I feel personally inspired by the liberation and celebration of women and blackness. It seems as if anything Beyoncé accomplishes is always a step above her last project, from her inventions and collaborations with Topshop for the clothing line “Ivy Park,” to her sacred secrecy in her projects that are so strictly kept on the down low. The groundbreaking ethic she carries inspires me to press forward in opportunities in my life. A pioneering female icon that isn’t afraid to transgress her boundaries and push onward to break them.

I’ll admit, “Lemonade” wasn’t the title I was expecting after hearing “Formation,” but I wasn’t disappointed. Formation is the last song on the album, almost like a epilogue. Throughout the video, we see and hear Beyoncé trying to make peace with the disheartening situation. Transitioning through the stages of dilemma she feels, I watch as she sings wholeheartedly, briefing deep harmonies in concise, sing along lines. And by the time I’m at the end of the video, I’m left pondering on the thought of will it work out, and if so, how has this experience changed her for the better; a question no one can really answer other than the woman herself.