After 72 Hours, This Is How The VIBE Staff Feels About Beyonce's "Lemonade"
April 26, 2016 - 3:01 pm
We had three years. Three full years to prepare for the release of Lemonade and we still weren’t ready. We assumed “Formation"--Beyonce’s upbeat and unapologetic single professing her allegiance to her black skin and culture, coupled with her desire for all women to be leaders of their own life-- would the total tone of the album. Oh how we were wrong. Mrs. Carter let us all assume we had her figured out, and then on April 23, just three days after our hearts ached from Prince’s passing, she gave us a bit of a reprieve as we watched for a little more than hour what she’s endured, experienced, what’s still left unresolved and what it ultimately is. The outcome: Lemonade, a beautifully crafted work of art that chronicles Bey’s strength through her vulnerability. After a full weekend (and then some) the VIBE staff gave our honest opinion on the 13-track record and well... read on.
Mikey Fresh, Music Editor
As the Lemonade seeps into every aspect of my life, I can't help but love every drip of the citrus overload. Queen Bey dropped a perfect mix of sultry love songs, tracks about when romantic relationships aren't always peaches and cream, and a dash of "Bow Down" b*tches.
Sonically, the superstar takes listeners on a trip unlike any of her prior releases. The instrumentals she chose to flow over this time are all edgier vibes than her last self-titled album.
Best Beyonce album of all time?
Marjua Estevez, Senior Editor VIBE Viva
I saw Beyoncé collapse, fold into the earth, become undone over and over again before she raised herself from the dead to walk in beauty like the night. She hosted a holy reception commemorating blackness; black women of all shades and pedigree; black boys; black men; black mothers and grandmothers; sisters and sisterhood. She invited the muses, the dead, the Orishas and a brigade of witnesses draped in blkgirlmagic to dine on the marrow of ancestors, all the while turning the camera on masculinity and making palpable the power of love and vulnerability. The artistry and musicality of it all is a bonus. I am grateful for the fire Beyoncé is building and for encouraging us all to dance around it, if only to feel the heat of such awakening.
Ashley Monae, Staff Writer
Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter is known for effortlessly snatching hairlines with her infectious rhythmic pop hits. But with the delivery of her surprise-release sixth studio album, Lemonade, it’s certain that she’s out for more than our edges. Instead, she wants for our hearts and minds, and like the most skilled butcher, our flesh, skin, and blood. And truth be told, there’s no shame in her stripped campaign that puts her wounds and scars on the chopping block in plain sight.
Undeniably, Lemonade feels like an onslaught of the honeyed singer who’s reserved and tight-lipped when it comes to her personal life, especially the relationship with husband Jay Z that’s been flooded with rumors of rough patches and divorce. There’s tracks like “Pray You Catch Me” (You can taste the dishonesty/ It's all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier) and “Sorry” (Looking at my watch. he shoulda been home/Today I regret the night I put that ring on) that feel like a peek inside the Carter’s suspected broken home. But there’s more. Push past the puzzling issue of possible infidelity, and we get to hear her real thoughts. It’s the imperfectly perfect pulse of a grown-ass woman who is still finding herself amid a world that believes she’s got it all that bravely flows throughout the 12-track project.
“Formation” made a hell of a grand gesture that felt like #blackgirlmagic at its finest, calling all young ladies and women to celebrate the power they posses. It stands out as a “Survivor” and “Independent Woman” moment. In the same breathe, there’s the Kendrick Lamar-assisted “Freedom” where she makes it known that she’s in control despite adversity, vowing: “I break chains all by myself/Won’t let my freedom rot in hell,” The down south twang of “Daddy Lessons” narrates a crippling coming of age story that continues the emotional rollercoaster and page-turner of an LP.
Exploring darker themes that she once glazed over and coddled with a spirited alter ego, Lemonade is sweet, sour, and maybe even a bit bitter tasting to some. This may not be the Beyoncé you had hoped for. However, it ranks as her most revealing and artistic work to date. And while the general consensus is that Mrs. Carter has ultimately made lemonade out of lemons, the real question is: Who gon’ check her boo?
Desire Thompson, Contributing Writer
Since her solo musical journey started more than a decade ago, Beyonce has been portrayed as a dominant woman, yet inhibited by her own power. With LEMONADE, the entertainer brews a beverage that has to be taken in doses. She embraces what it truly means to be a woman by baring her truths and fears. Bey also gives us what we’ve arguably been waiting for--a tale of what it truly means to be a black woman within sisterhood, family and ultimately the “sanctity” that is a holy matrimony.
With award winning poet Warsan Shire giving life to her visuals, Bey proves time and time again that the stages of love (seen through such poems as "For Women Who Are Difficult to Love," "The Unbearable Weight of Staying (The End of the Relationship)," and "Nail Technician as Palm Reader") are more than just infidelity, but understanding of self and your partner. “DON’T HURT YOURSELF,” the Zeppelin-sampled track powered by the strings of plenty of female guitarists, provide stark reminders that anger can only linger for so long before it explodes. More genres are explored, from the one-two country claps on “DADDY LESSONS” to the Issac Hayes’ Walk On By” sample on The Weeknd assisted, “6 INCH.” The album gives us a mini music history lesson, if you're willing to truly sit back and hear the influence of legends (Andre 3000, Zora Neale Hurston, Malcolm X) and the cool kids (via Father Father John Misty, Soulja Boy and Diplo.)
What truly takes over the sweet potency that is LEMONADE is the influence of the many shades and ancestries of Black and African culture.The presence of the mothers of the movement (mothers of Oscar Grant, Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin) to the little sisters pushing it to the masses (Zendaya, Amandla Stenberg) show what it truly means to unite. While Bey rocks Yeezy wear, she also taps into the Mangbetu people of the Congo granting “Yas Queen” chants from nearly every keyboard connected to to Twitterverse. In the end, Bey is aware of her power and has no problem pushing it over the edge. From exuding inspiration from today’s prevalent shifting culture to championing for love, LEMONADE is the drink we knew only Mrs. Carter could make.
Camille Augustin, Associate Editor
The syncopated ad-libs and measured breathing of Beyonce's 'Lemonade' opener, "Pray You Catch Me" set the tone for the emotionally stacked yet enthralling album. Listeners are welcomed into the highs and lows of Bey's world through sounds and lyrics that you pick apart like a peeling manicure. The Houstonian's deeper moments show signs of a cracked foundation that only the thickest of putty (her resounding vocal chords) can soften the blows of the unsmiling moments, but she hardens her character to keep her head high above water, because "a winner don't quit on themselves."
But instead of Bey's strong-armed chords that command the talking, her bodily gestures echo louder than any curse word she utters. The slyness of her ears hugging every word that her lover says plus the six sniffs like a hound dog picking up a funny scent on the first track perks your earbuds alongside Beyonce's, hoping and praying to discover any hidden clue of her partner's disloyalty. On "Sorry," she projects the image of chucking up the deuces and/or the middle finger to a fleeting relationship as the song blares. The soft touch of hands caressing each other's tender feelings on "Sandcastles" is so fluid yet fragile that with one wrong pat, the smooth yet grainy love structure can come tumbling down. "Freedom" will have you stomping your feet in jubilation. Then the stretching of the arms on "Formation" acts as a cloak of protection over black girls and women who despite the many obstacles we face, still manage to slay with elegance and grace.
Beyonce uses the body to speak a language that can't be done by forming syllables. Yes, the writing is beautifully sculpted. There’s much-needed message of showcasing the aptitude of black women in the visual aspect of the project and it’s happily appreciated. But just the ability to experience a physical action while listening to the album makes you realize that you might have a deeper connection to words, especially when it's said by an artist so unapologetically revealing, unapologetically black, unapologetically woman.
Beyonce put her foot in this 12-track album, and wiggled her toes across all genres imaginable from muddy water country tunes to the feel-it-in-your-chest boom of trap music. She confronted her darkest hours, placed one foot in front of the other, and breathed in the fresh air on the brighter side of life. At the end, all you can do is take in that same deep breath, fill your lungs with positive affirmations, and use all of your senses to walk in the light that was destined for you.
Richy Rosario, Contributing Writer
Beyonce’s art has reached new heights. She’s unapologetic, strong, transparent, bold, and wants you to hear and see what she’s trying to convey. Queen Bey has long been seen in the media, and by the masses as so-to -speak a “Perfect” woman. Sure, like every one, she’s human. But for a long time, it seemed like we all just thought this woman was just, well, flawless.
Her life appeared like a perfect little bubble that was never going to burst. Why? Well, she is calculated, beautiful, a workaholic, and knows how to navigate a very public world in private. But on Lemonade she’s letting all her demons, dirty laundry, and the seemingly most private vignettes of her life hang out all on wax. And by doing so, she has created a feministic 12-track masterpiece that allows women to be just that: WOMEN, by however anyone defines that term; and acts upon its definition. On “Hold Up” she makes it ok to be vulnerable, crazy and still call out a man for his wrong doings; acknowledging that in the end, you deserve better.
In her rawness you’re forced to wonder if she herself was once that car window breaking scorned woman. And if she was, so what? Besides the hurt woman narrative, she does a beautiful job at pointing out the dehumanization often times black women are subjected to. It’s a complicated issue with many layers, which she dangerously peels apart one by one.
She nods her ancestors, and creates an ode for those black women who came before her. She isn’t afraid to talk about the elephant in the room, and point fingers where necessary. Hence, “Formation” was just the precursor to what was ahead. And the aftermath has been cathartic and necessary. Amid all the politics, gender inequalities, cheating men, and 6 inch designer heels—when you’re left dealt with a batch of lemons, make sweet lemonade served iced cold.