Beyoncé’s Lemonade is more than just an album, it’s a visual masterpiece and a powerful political statement on feminism and race.
Its narrative is at once intensely personal and universal. Beyoncé is the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen her but at the same time manages to be stronger than ever before.
It’s complex, undeniably brilliant and at just over an hour long, will likely leave your head spinning with unanswered questions. What does it all mean?
Well, let’s start by answering the most obvious question first.
Why is is called Lemonade?
We all know the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”, and in essence that’s the theme of the album.
It is about taking hardship, owning it and turning it into something better.
There is a spoken word segment where Bey weaves the metaphor into an anecdote about her grandmother, Agnéz Deréon:
“Take one pint of water, add a half pound of sugar, the juice of eight lemons, the zest of half lemon. Pour the water into one, then to another several times. Strain through a clean napkin. Grandmother. The alchemist. You spun gold out of this hard life. Conjured beauty from the things left behind. Found healing where it did not live. Discovered the antidote in your own kitchen. Broke the curse with your own two hands. You past these instructions down to your daughter, who then passed them down to her daughter.”
Beyonce's grandmother. Source: Instagram
She also includes a clip of Hattie White, Jay-Z's grandmother, at her 90th birthday: "I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up," she said. "I was served lemons, but I made lemonade."
Wait, but isn't it about Jay-Z cheating?
On it's surface Lemonade is an album about a woman scorned by her partner.
It begins with a reference to "whispers" of infidelity, but by the second song, the question is asked outright, "Are you cheating on me?"
From title track Intuition to Redemption it's a well-trodden journey through a relationship in strife.
"I tried to change. Closed my mouth more, tried to be softer, prettier, less awake," she says on Denial.
"Who the f*ck do you think I am? You ain’t married to no average bitch, boy, You can watch my fat ass twist, boy, as I bounce to the next d*ck boy," she declares on Anger.