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Music Review: Beyoncé’s Lemonade

Let me just say right off: Lemonade is good. Beyoncé has made the progression from what was a ratchet-laced, sexually-overt eponymous album to what is cohesively and lyrically her most solid effort, and I dare say her magnum opus.

To understand and appreciate the album better, you have to watch each track’s corresponding video and monologue. After all, it is a “Visual” album.

Beyoncé effortlessly and in true artistic form switches from incoherent soliloquy to a video that somehow perfectly conveys and matches each track’s lyrical content.

The album opens with Pray You Catch Me, which at first leaves the listener guessing, wondering what it is about. Is this album any good? It’s a subtle but effective effort to captivate the listener’s attention, and as the song ends, it does just that. I haven’t seen the video of this one, but I imagine it would be something abstract, shot in slow motion.

Hold Up follows next, at first sounding a bit nonsensical, but its undeniably catchy chorus, hook and a simple but addictive beat suggests that this might just be a huge summer hit! If anything, its accompanying video will make anyone give the song several listens. It shows Beyoncé emerging from mammy-water splendour of a dream, with a baseball bat, damaging property, a smile on her face and hair for daaaaysss!

Lyrically, Don’t Hurt Yourself is my favourite. It is not your typical Beyoncé song, and on paper, the pairing with Jack White (Who?) seems odd.  But it’s safe to say they both pulled it off. It is the first song that suggests and perhaps confirms cheating allegations from Jay Z’s end.

“… If you try this shit again, you ‘gon lose your wife!” It doesn’t get more obvious than that.

Sorry is the one that had the internet rolling! Who is Becky with the good hair? And at this point, the listener is flabbergasted – firstly, because of the awesomeness of this song, and secondly, because of the shocking allegations of its lyrics. And this suggests more so than ever that Jay Z is a cheater.

Regardless of whatever the lyrics imply, it’s a tactic that has paid off, and one only Beyoncé can pull off.

Its video also features Serena Williams dancing aimlessly while Beyoncé sits and observes in majestic splendour.

6 Inch follows in spitfire fashion; at this point, the listener is convinced that this is indeed a good album.  It is a collaborative effort with The Weeknd, with empowering, quasi-feminist lyrics about a successful career woman. HIT!

Daddy Lessons is another lyrical masterpiece, in my opinion, and is served as what seems like an ode to African American culture, with an old school jazzy vibe, laced with intermittent church-like howls and oohs.

Love Drought requires some amount of effort and patience to listen to it before one picks up a liking for the song, and this is much like Rihanna’s Anti album. At first listen, it sounds like a typical urban contemporary song and this is Lemonade‘s one and only filler track.

Sandcastles is the only ballad on the album. Ballads aren’t exactly Bey’s forte but she surprisingly excels in this. Her voice is heavy with conviction and a genuine honesty, the basic recipe needed to pull off a solid ballad.

Forward should really be an intro to the next track Freedom, or should probably have been left out of the album entirely. James Blake does a faux and unconvincing Ray Charles for a solid minute; not a fan.

Freedom comes in next. It sounds like a protest song, or a song accompanying a documentary on the civil rights movement of the 60s.  Not one of my favourites but worth a few listens.

To me, All Night is the winner! The song seems and feels triumphant. It is a victory song about love winning above all else and seems like such a fitting way to round up an album. Beyoncé sings about second chances and love prevailing, and a beautiful infusion of trumpets and strings gives this song an ethereal feel.

Formation rounds the album off. After the emotional rollercoaster that was the past couple of tracks, Formation seems strategically placed to just dance it all off.

All in all, Lemonade is a good album. Go and buy it on iTunes. Say no to illegal downloads.

Written by Chizzie


About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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3 comments

  1. I see a country music awards nomination for Bey for that Daddy Lessons track. That was just her Texan side on full blast.

  2. Chizzie, I agree to a large extent with ur reviews, and you helped confirm what I have always know and said about Beyonce. She is a “visual artist”! The fact that everybody keeps saying you have to see the whole movie and video to get into the “Glory” that is lemonade speaks volumes about her artistry. Love it or hate it, she knows what works for her and she is using it to her advantage. Plus she has literally carved out her own lane, set a new standard and way ahead of the pack with her new roll out plan, product packaging and delivery.

    With that out of the way, I still have mixed feeling about the album. She get major respect for showing some depth and growth (Finally). With this album, Beyfake went on holiday, only to be replaced by Beyonce the Human, woman, mother and wife. Mind you, I am not buying all that “throw Jay-Z under the bus and Black lives matter crap”, but you cant help but applaud her for the direction she went with this album.

    Like you said, this is her best work thus far. For once, she finally has an album that has a concept. A cohesive and well thought out body of work. Well written, no over the top production, and no ghetto-hoodrat-power-bottom/ratched-baby mama anthems except for that formation song. Vocally, the album was dry. If there is anything I love Bey for, is how she is a vocal beast. Her techniques and the delivery is one of the best right now, but she didn’t deliver this go round which made songs like Forward and Love drought look and sound out of place. I totally disagree with you about ballads not being her forte. People just love uptempo Bey, so she does more of that. We both know she brings down the house with ballads.

    Pray you catch me: I thought “cute” at first listen. Nothing special popped except for the harmonies which reminded me of DC harmonies. After a couple of listens, it grew on me.

    Hold up: I have come to like, but it hasn’t really fitted in. I think I need to see the visuals for a home run with this one

    Sorry; repetitive, chorus sounds like a ghetto child reciting nursery rhymes, but its quite chatchy, pack a lot of attitude and you get to love it after a couple of listens. You would definitely buy into it when you hear the stories making the rounds and driving the album.

    Don’t hurt yourself: I forgot about this one. I don’t like or hate it. A rock kissed cut. Boast of a lot of catch phrases. It has a sort of “feeling myself” vibe to it. But it just doesn’t settle well with me cos it screams try-hard-bey to me. Yes its a fun song, playful, hell it’s a diss cut and we know who its (allegedly) directed to. It sounds like a song made when someone was just freestyling. It ultimately played into the whole theme of “Operation burn Jay” . So no major complains here. It sounds very tyler the creator-ish.

    6 inch : NOW this is the song that spoke to me at first listen. Like its dark, edgy, packs swag by the truck loads. I was imagining a dark lit party, smoke in the air, bodies grinding again each other. It had me bobbing my head from start to finish. I LOVE this song. The beat, the lyrics, the arrangement, love the message behind the song. Its just club perfection as far as I am concerned. I think she didn’t need The Weekend on the song. She was bad ass all by herself. It makes me want to slowly crip walk on it everytime I hear it.

    Daddy lessons : This right here is one of the most outstanding song on the album, and I dare say her career. She practically threw away her play book and went left field with this one. Like I would have never have thought she would ever go in this direction, talk more of pulling it off. This is a Huge risk and it payed off big time. The writting and message behind the song is just powerful.

    Love Drought: Mama sleep de catch me

    Sandcastle : Bey disappointed small here. I get that she was going for stripped down and raw. But I kept waiting for a major vocal climax that never came. I love and felt it the emotions behind the hoarse growl (Something dearest Rih tried to do in Higher, but couldn’t pull off effortlessly like Bey did). Like I got goose bumps around that part. Its not everyday Bey emotes like that. Another beautifully written song.

    Forward : Abeg make una do gimme blanket, una no hear say I wan sleep? This gave just screams frank Ocean try_hard to me.

    Freedom: Arguably the the strongest song in the album. In case you don’t know what they call stadium music, this is IT. Abeg this song SLAYS! Another song I got into at first listen. I may have some reservations about her exploration of the Black lives matter movement to shift her work, but you can’t deny the power, strength and courage that this song exudes. Another song I got into at first listen. And when Kendricks voice poured all over me, I just knew that this bitch is trying to win me back as a fan and plans on taking my blood if I don’t surrender peacefully. There is something about this song that just makes you want to break free, challenge the norm, stomp out the anger and frustration life has dished you.

    All Night: Can I just say I love this song. I didnt at first listen, but it has grown on me. Its one of the highlight of the album along with 6 inch, Daddy lessons, Freedom. Sand castle

    Formation: **Sigh** honestly I hoped this album didn’t make the cut and was just a buzz single like they said it was suppose to be. A nice bop, but I just wish she would make an album with a Ghetto-hoodrat-power-bottom/ratched-baby mama anthems. Like pleeaaasssseeee. There are songs an artist of her caliber shouldn’t be making. It just seems like she is trying to compete with the young girls when you can have ur own lane. But then again she has to cater to her “YASSSS GURL” fans.

    A solid work built around a them (relationship with Jigga & black live matter) if you ask me #ControversySells. For the first time since her debut, she finally puts forward a well (almost) rounded body of work. The first time she has shown visible sign as an artist. She has always grown as a vocalist and perforer with each album, but never as an artist cos the authenticity has never really been there. This album sounds and feels more believable. Less screaming, no over singing, no over production, just plain artistic presentation.

  3. To me, lemonade is a new revelation of Beyonce. Like, girl where you been all the while?
    Great review.

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