I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t a believer of Queen Bee before this album was released. Beyoncé is obviously a great singer and performer, and I did like a bunch of her music, but her music was too polished and she was too inhumanely perfect and untouchable for me to be able to connect with her or feel like her music had any real stakes. I know a lot of people want music like that because it empowers them, but for me it’s hard to get emotionally invested in what many people consider a goddess telling off a nameless douche bag that she could have another in a minute. On “Lemonade”, however, not only did Beyoncé prove her strength and resilience went beyond unknown assholes but she also made a record was far more artistic than I think many people expected from her.

“Lemonade” is billed as a visual album with an accompanying movie, and if you want to get the full scope of this project I would recommend watching it. However, since it is sold as just the music as well, I’m only going to talk about the music itself since Beyoncé thinks the album stands on its own (and I would agree). Now, “Lemonade” is a concept album about Beyoncé’s husband, Jay-Z, cheating on her, and the emotions she goes through in the process. Jay-Z is not easily replaceable, Beyoncé couldn’t have another Jay-Z in a minute. Yet during the opening tracks of “Lemonade”, Beyoncé, fueled by anger, tells off Jay-Z as though he is just another guy, and you can’t help but believe her. The first four tracks are the most instantaneous, and if you didn’t believe in Queen Bee before you definitely will after that.

However, while the first four tracks are the easiest to love, the following tracks are where I think the emotional core of the record really develops. Beyoncé goes through every emotion one can experience during relationship uncertainty - anger, sadness, confusion, regret, unbothered, absolute pain - and she does hold back any unflattering detail during its runtime. An easy highlight is “Sandcastles”, with the imagery of her relationship being labored over sandcastle doomed to be inevitably washed away and Beyoncé’s voice breaking half way through the song being an absolute punch in the gut. However, I think a theme that a lot of people have forgotten in favor of the drama is how Beyoncé connects this experience to the trauma that black relationships face. Following the path to as recent as her father cheating on her mother all the way back to the days of slavery, Beyoncé finds that the impact of black suffering has caused a generational curse of broken relationships, and it’s only through her understanding of this curse and her urge to break it that she’s able to heal her relationship as well as herself. This leads to some of the most empowering moments on the record at the very end, with “Freedom” and “Formation” being awe inspiring moments about the ability of strong black women to persevere. You would think that after the initial shock died down this album wouldn’t have as much impact, but every emotion Beyoncé goes through on this record still feels just as powerful as it did back in 2016.

I should also spend time mentioning the brilliant sounds and genres explored on “Lemonade”, which are much more varied than I think Beyoncé has ever achieved on previous records. R&B, reggae, trap, rock, country, gospel, electronic, and hip-hop are some of the many style of music incorporated on this record. You would think this would make the record sound messy, but being bound together with the emotionally gripping narrative makes the album sound so cohesive. And the collaborators are top notch and from all across the music scene - Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake, Diplo, Ezra Koening, Boots, Mike Dean, Diana Gordon, Just Blaze, Mike Will Made It, Father John Misty, Pluss, and MNEK are just some of the many great artists in this all star cast of collaborators.

All in all, it’s easy to see why “Lemonade” is considered one of the best records in the 2010’s from the most mainstream of listeners to the most critical. I think even the most die hard of Beyoncé fans didn’t expect her to make such a huge artistic statement. She truly turned lemons into Lemonade.

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More Reviews by BaddieBaphomet
Jul 30, 2022
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