What is an artist to do when her private life overtakes her public one? If you’re Beyoncé, you make Lemonade. The hour-long visual album, about a woman dealing with her husband’s infidelity, contains even more loaded images and lyrics than “Formation,” the politically charged video she released before the Super Bowl. It reads like an open invitation to draw parallels between the pop star’s art and her actual life, in particular her marriage to Jay Z. But what could it all mean? Here, we unpack the visuals and references in Lemonade.
What were those chapter dividers?
Tidal has described Lemonade as a project about “every woman’s journey of self knowledge and healing,” and throughout the film, prominent title cards seem to follow the steps of grief: Intuition, Denial, Anger, Apathy, Emptiness, Accountability, Reformation, Forgiveness, Resurrection, Hope, Redemption.
Who’s in Bey’s squad?
Beyoncé’s squad in the video didn’t seem like a gathering of celebrity friends, but rather a celebration of women she loves and admires. During “Sorry,” the unapologetic track in which she sings, “Middle fingers up, put them hands high. Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye,” Serena Williams appears to twerk in a black body suit while Bey sits in a throne-like chair. There are several other cameos later on, including appearances by Beasts of the Southern Wild’s Quvenzhané Wallis, The Hunger Games’s Amandla Stenberg, model Winnie Harlow, and singers Zendaya, Chloe and Halle Bailey, and Ibeyi.
What’s the best song to GIF?
Hands down: Beyoncé’s bat-wielding, car-crushing anthem “Hold Up” is the new “Hotline Bling.”
Who are the other artists featured on the album?
In the defiant “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” Beyoncé cries out, “Who the fuck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch boy,” while Jack White plays his bass guitar angrily in the background. In the beginning of “6 Inch,” the king of sexy despair, The Weeknd, lends his vocals. In the spiritual-tinged “Forward,” James Blake sings for most of the track about moving on. And in the riotous “Freedom,” Kendrick Lamar showcases his electrifying lyrical skills during an epic interlude. As for the verses Beyoncé would read in between her songs, the singer adapted the work of 27-year-old Somali-British poet Warsan Shire, whom The New Yorker once described as someone who can easily “write movingly about African migration to Europe and also tweet humorously about the VH1 reality show Love & Hip-Hop.”
Where did the Malcolm X speech come from?
Beyoncé made Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie a household name when she sampled “We Should All Be Feminists” in her song “Flawless.” In “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” she features a snippet of Malcolm X saying: “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.” Those three lines come from a speech Malcolm X delivered in Los Angeles in 1962, titled “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?”
Was the country song about her dad?
Beyoncé briefly crosses over into country with “Daddy Lessons.” She has spoken publicly about a fallout she had with her dad and former manager, Mathew Knowles, after his contentious divorce with her mother, opening up about their relationship in her documentary Life Is But A Dream and in a subsequent interview with Oprah. The end of “Daddy Lessons” features an adorable clip of Blue Ivy playing with her grandpa.
Who were the women holding up photos?
Though Lemonade is mostly about a personal relationship, Beyoncé pays tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement during the video for “Freedom,” which features the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and other black men who were killed, holding the portraits of their sons.
Why is the album called Lemonade?
In “Freedom,” Beyoncé includes a home video of Jay Z’s grandmother Hattie’s 90th birthday party, in which we learn the origin of the album’s title. At the end of a speech, Hattie says: “I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”
Is this whole thing about Jay Z?
Beyoncé never says outright that Lemonade is about her marriage to Jay Z, but she seems to intend for the viewer to draw this conclusion. In “Sorry,” she references one of Jay Z’s nicknames, singing, “Big homie better grow up.” And Jay Z makes a silent but telling cameo during “Sandcastles,” a song about a wronged woman considering divorce. Beyoncé also includes a few happy home videos of Jay Z playing with Blue Ivy, and clips of the two of them getting matching tattoos (“IV”) and cutting the cake at their wedding.
The post Deconstructing Lemonade: Everything You Need to Know About Beyoncé’s New Visual Album appeared first on Vogue.