“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.”
Is that the most cliche and generic quote one can start this article with? Absolutely. In the case of Beyonce’s sixth album “Lemonade” there truly is no other statement that immediately comes to mind though. . . The album’s title “Lemonade” was inspired by a speech made by her husband’s grandmother at a 90 year birthday celebration. . . the album itself finds it’s core inspired by apparent infidelity caused by her husband, Jay-Z. Beyonce and Jay-Z have been hip-hop’s power couple since rumors of them started back in their “Bonnie and Clyde/Crazy In Love” days. Now it seems their marriage has gone a bit sour and Beyonce is using her music as therapy. She councils herself on this journey called “Lemonade” and holds nothing back.
Keep in mind that these lyrics, for all that it’s worth, are directed at Jay-Z, which makes her tone just as important as her words. And also, it’s just more entertaining to think that every song is her telling Mr. S-Dot Carter off. On “Hold Up” (produced by Diplo), Beyonce serves her listener with a laid back island-pop feel. The lyrics make it quite obvious who her muse is : “Lets imagine for a moment that you never made a name for yourself/Or mastered wealth, they had you labeled as a king/Never made it out the cage, still out there movin in them streets/never had the baddest woman in the game up in your sheets.” She details in this song, how she must be crazy for still loving and not giving up on someone who is playing her out. . .
“Sorry” and “Don’t Hurt Yourself” find Beyonce less-hurt and more angry. It’s the Beyonce that all women love, to be honest. Her Sasha-Fierce-Like-Confidence on “Sorry” finds Beyonce being the ring-leader for girls out there who have been done wrong by a man. She leads the charge with the bridge: “Middle fingers up, put them hands high/ Wave it in his face, tell him, boy bye/Tell him boy, bye-boy bye/ Middle fingers up, I ain’t thinking ’bout you.” Beyonce even lays down a cryptic: “Let’s have a toast to the good life/Suicide before you see this tear fall down my eyes/Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright/We gon’ live a good life.” Jack White is featured on, and helped to write “Don’t Hurt Yourself” which is a rock inspired track which is felt even more when Beyonce’s voice is slightly muffled in a true grunge-like filter. On this track, Beyonce plays the role of the one who might be getting cheated on but holds all the cards. Even lays down a threat to her husband that she’ll “bounce to the next dick.” Her confidence is on full display when she ends the track with: “You know I give you life/ If you try this sh*t again, you gon’ lose your wife.”
Beyonce ventures into the country music world with “Daddy Lessons.” This is a great look into her relationship with her father and how it relates to her current marriage. Beyonce’s father, Matthew Knowles, cheated in his marriage as well. Knowing that and also knowing Matthew Knowles wasn’t too supportive of the union of Jay-Z and Beyonce, it’s no surprise that he would tell his daughter: “My daddy warned me about men like you/He said baby girl he’s playing you/ he’s playing you.” The song itself is a smart move for Beyonce, because she has the chops to cross over into any genre of music and this should find her spins on stations across the U.S. that she never previously graced.
“Sandcastles” is the true ballad on the album. The pain in her voice is evident. There is nothing fake about Beyonce on this album – every lyric and emotion comes off as genuine (and if this is just a huge media ploy constructed by Bey and Jay – nah, lets not even think that!). “Sandcastles” finds Beyonce alone with a piano bearing her pain and only asking in return from her lover an equated feeling of regret and pain. . .
Beyonce takes a break from her lover’s angst anthems with the track “Freedom.” Much like her previously released single “Formation” – which is featured at the end of the LP – she takes a social stand. The message she brings to the African-American community is that although they are “free” they are still shackled by the racism in the world. “Freedom” features Kendrick Lamar but also features production by Just Blaze, who hits this song with an aggressive drum sequence, supplied by organs and a choir backing the chorus. It’s a refreshing tangent for the album to go off on and it doesn’t hinder the overall flow at all.
The idea behind “6 Inch” is a bit weird as Beyonce uses the six-inch-heel as a symbol of a hard working woman. It’s a more in-your-face-approach version of Ne-Yo’s “Miss Independent.” The use of the Issac Hayes “Walk On By” sample and the addition of the Weeknd are enough for people to forget about the stretch of a concept drawn up here. . .
Lately, many music lovers have been critical, at times even overly-critical of Beyonce. She raised the bar for herself and hasn’t been able to attain that again, it would seem. She has been trying new sounds and new ways to approach music while keeping her image fresh and it seems she hit her stride with “Lemonade.” What also works in her favor, is that Beyonce is seen the diva of all divas, a superstar – but her vulnerabilities and pain on this record are real and for the first time in a long time, she has become relatable with her fans. The production is a win and Beyonce, plays the role of being “hurt” and “vengeful” very well throughout the album. The only question now is: “Will Jay-Z come out with a diss record aimed at Beyonce?” — Doubtful. But that would be insane. . .
Rating 8.5 out of 10