A closer look at Beyonce’s sixth album
Talk about the ultimate mic drop. (And jaw drop.)
Not only did Beyonce release another surprise album, Lemonade, over the weekend, she caught everyone off guard by tackling the most personal of subjects — the cheating husband.
For a pop star as secretive and loath to do interviews as Beyonce is, Lemonade is a revelation of epic proportions, filled with what seems like intimate details about her marriage to rapper/hip-hop mogul Jay Z and his philandering ways.
“You can taste the dishonesty/ It’s all over your breath,” she oozes in the very first line/slap in the face of the opening number, Pray You Catch Me, an R&B ballad with wistful keyboards and swelling strings.
“What are you doing, my love?” she whispers as the song segues into Hold Up, which samples lyrics from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ indierock tear-jerker Maps, and the prancing string plucks from Andy Williams’ 1963 hit, Can’t Get Used to Losing You. (Sweet touch.)
“What’s worse, looking jealous or crazy?” Beyonce asks, trying to come to terms with her deceitful lover. “Jealous and crazy? Or like being walked all over lately, walked all over lately/I’d rather be crazy.”
Lemonade offers an exploration of emotions — from sadness to hysteria to anger to self-recrimination to doubt to love again. The 12-song album, as catchy as it is creatively groundbreaking, also offers an exploration of Beyonce’s musical influences, from her family to hip-hop artists to indie rockers to classic rock giants. The range is astonishing and incredibly addictive, filled with so many sonic and lyrical nuances, you can’t catch them all during your first 100 listens.
“This is your final warning/You know I give you life/If you try this s--- again/Gonna lose your wife,” she threatens on Don’t Hurt Yourself, a rasp ’n’ roll number featuring Jack White and a sample of Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks.
Daddy Lessons, a country clap along punctuated with horns, is a touching ode to her father, who helped guide Beyonce’s early career. (And also cheated on Beyonce’s mother.) Freedom, a soulful anthem of self-empowerment, features rapper Kendrick Lamar and Jay Z’s grandmother Hattie White, who might just be responsible for the title of the album. “I was given lemons and I made lemonade,” she says in a recording from her 90th birthday.
As bitter as Lemonade tastes, it’s not without its moments of sweetness. All Night, one of the standouts (on an album of standouts), is a gorgeous statement of reconciliation, infused with triumphant horns (sampled from OutKast’s SpottieOttieDopaliscious), staccato guitar strums, and Beyonce’s high-octave and heart-wrenching coos.
“Give you some time to prove that I can trust you again/I’m gonna kiss up and rub up and feel up,” she sings.
Lemonade, as with her previous, self-titled album, also comes with a video for each song. (HBO debuted all 12 in an hour-long special on Saturday night.) The visuals, which range from images of Beyonce smashing a car with a baseball bat to some of the mothers of America’s murdered black men, make the album even more powerful.