On her sixth solo album, Beyoncé Knowles Carter opens with a traditional Bey-style ballad. ‘Pray You Catch Me’ showcases her incredible voice, with a saddening melody that highlights the helplessness Beyoncé may feel following rumours of husband Jay Z’s infidelity. If this was a subtle reference to her husband’s wrongdoings, the third track on the album (featuring Jack White) leaves almost no mystery; launching into ‘ Don’t Hurt Yourself’ with the lyrics ‘Who the f*** do you think I am?’: bolstering the Bey we know from ‘Irreplaceable’ and her Destiny’s Child days. This Beyoncé is sassy, fierce, and if anyone is going to capitalise on her misery: it’s her. ‘If you try this shit again’, she snarls, ‘you gon’ lose your wife’, a threat that can be heard, most prominently, through Jay Z’s own music streaming app, Tidal.
Bey is not someone that can be screwed over: if you hurt her, you will pay, and she will win
Lemonade’s first four tracks are remarkably open for a woman who has been so characteristically guarded regarding her relationship with Jay Z, her child Blue Ivy and the elevator incident that sparked the original rumours – taken from footage in New York – apparently confirming the cheating. In ‘ Sorry’, Beyoncé simply does not ‘give a f***’ about the rumours that have been circulating about her and her husband; her message to those in a similar position to her are simply (and starkly), ‘boy, BYE’. Lemonade shows Bey is not someone that can be easily screwed over: if you hurt her, you will pay, and she will win.
Expectations were high for Beyoncé’s latest album: it was presumed that she might follow up from her single ‘Formation’ (that addressed the racial profiling of those in the United States), with similar songs addressing the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. However, the album seems markedly more focused on her own triumphs and tragedies, and seems more to emphasise the effect that others can have on yourself, and the saviour that can be found in personal strength. Despite all this, Bey is ‘stacking money everywhere she goes’; she is a woman so professional and so ‘clean’ that even Michelle Obama has claimed to want to be her.
Like most other hotly anticipated albums of 2016, the album features a plethora of contributions from other stars: Kendrick Lamar (in the only other racially motivated song on the album), The Weeknd and James Blake all feature. Like Drake’s Views from the 6, and Kanye West’s recent album The Life of Pablo (a close friend of the Carter’s), Lemonade seethes with variety and defiance of traditional styles within the hiphop culture (notably featuring rock legend Jack White, of The White Stripes fame).
If there are downfalls to Beyoncé’s album, it’s the interlude of songs in the middle that seem rather weak and bland in comparison to her defiant and rowdy openings. However, this is still a Beyoncé that downright proves she will not be beaten. For all girls, or anyone that has ever been betrayed, Beyoncé’s album is an anthem of survival, of strength, and of not being afraid to call out those that have hurt you in the past (*cough* ‘Becky with the good hair’ *cough*).