@Beyonce Makes Delicious Lemonade from the Lemons Dealt to Her. #MidnightMusings
“You better call Becky with the good hair” – Beyoncé is WOKE
Beyoncé broke her silence this past weekend with what could only be construed as a “call to arms” to all people everywhere who have been scorned by a lover or someone they trusted. While much of the general public focuses on trying to figure out with whom JAY Z was stupid enough to cheat on Queen Bey (Rachel ROY, not Rachael Ray), I think Beyoncé’s message here is much bigger than the sensational gossip takeaways.
In some way or another, we have all seen/met/maybe even been a “Becky with good hair.” In the case of pushing the media narrative (and as an ode to her own culture), Beyoncé references Becky with the good hair to refer to an other. A person who doesn’t possess that elusive Black girl magic. In other words, Becky is supposed to refer to someone who is not considered black (At least from my limited knowledge on the subject – friends and readers, please enlighten me if this is not the case).
The last time I heard a Becky referred to in the media was when someone insisted Taylor Swift was Becky. And then TSwift made a shirt out of it. I’m pretty sure this is how “Becky” as a colloquial term became a mainstream term used by the majority of people.
On the surface, Queen Bey was calling out that other girl, the “side hoe,” the girl who embodies something so different from her. Fans and media were quick to point the finger at Rachel Roy, a fashion designer who had also been credited as the reason that Roc-A-Fella has faltered in recent years. She had been linked to JAY for a while, and was also the reason Solange had her now-infamous elevator altercation with JAY Z at the Met Gala. But that is old news. Literally reports regarding Roy and JAY have been around since all that “shit went down in the elevator.”
Solange going HAM on JAY because he had supposedly taken Rachel Roy to a more private, secluded area during the Met Gala back in 2014.
Compared to her last album/event, Lemonade seems to have a golden thread that pushes it forward. While BEYONCÉ as a visual album was groundbreaking and visually stunning, it could easily be dismantled and consumed in parts. It was literally a collection of videos and music that were linked through artistic feats somewhat-related to the album narrative itself. Another thing: BEYONCÉ plays like the beginnings of a happy marriage. There is innocence to the love Bey croons about. This is in direct contrast to the more mature sound Bey envelops this go-around. Here, she appears WOKE in every sense of the word. She’s awoken to see the issues that she and countless others face. She pushes these issues through using the cheating narrative to which she knows all would relate.
This album and film focus on not only her struggles, but the struggles of both her mother and grandmother. And that is what makes it amazing. She takes an oppressed minority and writes of their experiences. Whether it be domestic abuse, cheating scandals, relentless murder of family members by authority figures, or just the general stress associated with growing up black and a woman, Queen Bey sings about it all.
Queen Bey delivers much more than promised and effectively quenches our collective thirst.
Lemonade takes those connections – the framing, the colors, the sensuality, the visual storytelling – and harnesses them, focusing on the issues that affect her target audience. Make no mistake: Lemonade was not made for me. It wasn’t made for my roommate (white heterosexual male). It was made to celebrate to celebrate blackness, womanhood, and intersecting minority culture. It was a spectacle of life in the South post-Jim Crow, Reconstruction Period, and Civil Rights Movements. This is an age where Stop and Frisk laws exist, where, as notable collaborator Kendrick Lamar lamented previously, a white terrorist can be captured without getting harmed and even gets the privilege of getting fed because he was hungry.
I was pleasantly surprised that Louisiana (New Orleans specifically) was her canvas here. We have a rich history of melding together various cultures to create our own little spin on things. Stuff like a marching band strutting down the street, seeing the street signs themselves, the plantation homes, even the people immortalized on-screen… All of this made me feel a deeper connection with Bey and Lemonade.
The juxtaposition of having cultural artifacts that celebrate our racial history with the people who were oppressed by that same cultural attitude is moving in more ways than one.
Structured as the stages of grieving in an almost French New Wave-risqué style – the sequence title cards were reminiscent of Agnes Varda‘s masterpiece Cléo de 5 à 7 – Beyoncé paints a picture of the struggles associated with an unhappy marriage. Her costars are women. All appearing strong, empowered, and ready to break the molds placed around them by society. The men in the film are silent. With the exception of her father. It’s almost as if Beyoncé is using this project to say to men in general that yes, you can try to take my magic. And I may forgive you. But I will make you pay. I will mess you up so bad with my version of “hot sauce.” I will do what I do best: tell my story through my music and film. And I will take you back if you are worthy (I’m guessing JAY is worthy).
“I got hot sauce in my bag, swag.”
We already know what love is complicated. She has explained that time and again on her first five solo albums (and through her time with Destiny’s Child). But she has become even more empowered to take matters into her own hands. Whether it be through utilizing more aggressive language or less polished/radio-friendly sounds, Beyoncé makes it clear that she is not here for the listener. She tells her story on her own terms. She is in control. She called this meeting to get her point across and does not care if you don’t understand it at first.
As pictured here, Lemonade is a celebration of all black women. Light-skinned, dark-skinned, and every shade in-between. And I’m sure some of you noticed that none of them are smiling (I say ironically). Would you if you’ve been oppressed by the dominant culture for so long?
Do I even need to cover the music itself? You can tell this time around that Beyoncé chose to focus on the film instead of the music. I say this because the album works as a soundtrack to the film itself, which is in direct contrast to how BEYONCÉ worked as an album. Overall, had I just listened to the album without watching the visual interpretations, I would have thought that certain songs may not be as strong as some of the others. But, when taken together, as Beyoncé obviously intended, the album-film shatter any and all misconceptions regarding Beyoncé’s talent.
It would be like Beyoncé to just light the patriarchy on fire and walk away. Looking ***FLAWLESS.
Some questions that need to be addressed in understanding pop culture in 2016: between Beyoncé’s Lemonade and Rihanna‘s ANTi (both solid artistic achievements in their own rights), I can’t help but notice this unapologetic tone that these two cultural icons have embraced. Could this be the beginning of a cultural revolution within music? A means of changing pop music and the way it is consumed? Or are they the exceptions to the rules?
If anything is certain after canceling all of my previous Saturday plans and organizing a full-blown viewing party, It’s Beyoncé’s world and we all just live in it.
Watch the trailer below: