It’s taken a few days to digest Beyonce’s latest opus. I’m still processing the nuances of the visuals for Lemonade and the album. I watched the visual a few times. I gave the album a fifth listen last night. I’ve heard it enough to have favorite songs. I don’t think I’ve sat with the movie enough to catch all of the details. Thankfully, a lot of journalists have already analyzed and deconstructed both.
So I’m not exactly going to do that.
What I can take away from this album and its accompanying visual is that Beyonce has shed the last bits of perfection that she spent a great deal of her career and life living in. Save for a few songs, she’s talking about what happens to a woman after the honeymoon stage. How does a woman replenish herself when the well has run dry?
Concept albums are difficult to do. They rely heavily on sequencing. If one song is out of place, it throws everything off. Lemonade takes you on a journey that starts with the edge of the end.
When Beyonce dropped in 2013, I think that was like my phone interview to join the Beyhive. That album was pure love and sex and adoration. Beyonce was comfortable in her role as a married woman. I loved that album so much that I wrote about it because of two songs on there – “Rocket” and “Partition”. Listening to Lemonade though, the song “Jealous” may have hinted at what was to come. In it, Beyonce says:
I wish that you were me,
So you could feel this feeling.
I never broke one promise,
And I know when you’re not honest.
The reality is love is never enough by itself. Marriage takes work. A lot of it. And while love is an action, it’s not something that you have to constantly work at it. You either love someone or you don’t. I’ve always held the belief that you can’t un-love someone. No matter what they do, your love for them will remain. I feel like Beyonce uses this album to reconcile that along with the scars from actions of the men she loves the most.
Pain demands to be felt. It sits on the surface the way dew collects on the petal of a delicate flower. During a storm, the petal is covered in rain drops. Eventually, the weight of it all pulls the petal down to the earth. The process goes unnoticed because we expect beauty to be there the next time we look at the flower. Not acknowledging the loss doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, though.
Black women are asked to sacrifice in ways that men can’t even fathom in the name of the greater good. Yet when they hurt, we want them to ignore their pain to tend to the reconciliation.
A woman scorned is a woman whose petty knows no bounds. Women get very creative when they want a man to feel the hurt he’s caused. You pace back and forth when she doesn’t answer your calls. While you’re at home mulling over how you can save the relationship, she’s not thinking about you. It’s crushing. Sometimes, this is a woman’s outward display of self-care. When a man dims his woman’s light, it’s her homegirls’ energy and support that will help build her back up.
And God. No one is going to restore your heart from this kind of damage like God can.
For many relationships, restoration can only begin once there’s been some separation. From that perspective, Lemonade is a black woman’s reprieve and proclamation to simply be human.
Look, this isn’t an album for guys. However, the emotions felt by some of the music are universal. The song “Sandcastles” is #allthefeels; particularly visually. I think this is the first time I’ve considered the similarly difficult pasts that Jay and B come from; hers a shattered facade and his? Well, just go listen to December 4th for the abridged version.
As a Jay fan, it’s dope to see the stages he’s gone through since being married and becoming a father to a little girl. I definitely wasn’t ready to see him so vulnerable in front of a camera without looking awkward or forced. This is a man who likely went through un-chartered territory spiritually only because loves his wife and she mattered more than pride or persona. When you know you’ve messed up as the man, you have to go on one of those faith walks solo then make the commitment to fight or flight.
“Sandcastles” is the penultimate chapter of this hour-long agonizing, emotional roller-coaster. The simplicity stands out considering the drama that preceded it. Because this is what it feels like to be back at the starting point. Simple. Peaceful.
My torturer became my remedy.
Life indeed throws you lemons. Faith is about seeing beyond your circumstances. This song, out of the rest, made me think hard about marriage and family. Curses get broken by taking a chance when everything points to failure.
Love has to be the foundation. Because even if a day comes when it isn’t enough to prevent a crisis, the love you have for each other will be there to fall back on.