This past weekend, Beyonce released her sixth studio album none other than by a surprise visual of it that was featured on HBO. I, among countless others, was understandably curious when the Lemonade trailers were being shown. I was thinking,” Is she doing a surprise album again,” or “What else can and will Beyonce do in this new project if it is an album?”
To my ‘surprise’ it was another surprise album. When I saw her most recent album on HBO, I was shocked, but in the good way. I wouldn’t say that I’m part of the Beyhive (Beyonce’s fan group), but I do appreciate what she brings to the music world. Her album was a beautiful ode to black womanhood, struggles in romantic relationships, and showcased self pride.
The album couldn’t have come out in a more timely manner. With all the racial tension and gender inequalities in our country, Beyonce gave a voice to countless of women’s struggles, especially in regards to relationships. First and foremost, this album was unapologetically black and her visuals are particularly aimed at celebrating black beauty, womanhood, and struggle.
Most of the backdrops in the visual are featured in parts of New Orleans with rich black culture, and it also has an abundant amount of references to the creole culture as well. From the fashion to the makeup to the dance movements, every thing screams, “Say it loud, I’m black and I‘m proud.”I’m not saying that people from other ethnicities can’t appreciate her work, but she seems to be targeting a group of individuals who have been historically oppressed more than most other groups and giving them a powerful voice. That point is further made clear when she sampled Malcolm X in a speech he made in her song ‘Don’t Lose Yourself’ and he said that, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman.
The album also has a timeline like feel. The songs are in order based on the feelings of intuition, denial, anger, apathy, emptiness, accountability and reformation which are emotions usually felt in turbulent romantic relationships. She alludes to those feelings as she weaves in alleged personal accounts of someone, most definitely her husband, being unfaithful to her, and she is going on a journey of hurt to healing. That’s one of the things that I love about this album. She is able to tell a story through her music and although every song has its own unique style and form, every song is connected in some way.
She is able to capture the devastation of the mothers of the slain Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and countless others in a portion of the short song ‘Forward’ and in the song ‘Freedom’, which is featured directly afterwards. It’s always hard when I hear about the stories that those mothers have gone through because they lost their sons to unfair policemen, but just seeing them hold their sons’ photos in stoic stances, that really hit me hard. I liked how Beyonce was able to incorporate that in a tasteful way even if that wasn’t the main focus of the album’s story.
I think that this album is Beyonce’s message to everyone that she is indeed awake and now, she feels no need to really be the most private person that she’s become over the years. I also think that this album is a clear message of what views she holds and that she is indeed, political.
I really loved this album. It captured the spirit of so many things in a tasteful and brilliant way that no other artist of today, maybe besides Kendrick Lamar, can even accomplish. I also loved that she was so unapologetically black and that she didn’t sugar coat ANYTHING, nor did she pretend to be someone she wasn’t, and we need more women who can willingly speak their minds in our society to make it a better place.
I would highly recommend this album to anyone who loves Beyonce of course, but also to anyone who likes to hear emotionally raw ballads or for anyone who loves timeline/autobiographical albums when it comes to a person’s journey from being hurt to overcoming their obstacles in their relationships and with themselves in the end. I would also recommend this album to every black woman out there and for those of you who are liberal in your ideologies when it comes to black womanhood.
If you don’t want to get a Tidal account for a free subscription to listen to the album, it is currently on iTunes.
Jordan Washington, from Olympia Fields, Illinois, is a senior majoring in English with a double minor in Music and Communications at Illinois College. Jordan is the Opinions Editor for The Rambler , a consultant at the Campus Writing Center, a member of Forte , and a member of the Percussion Ensemble.