Further Inspection of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” & Things We Missed
So, all the articles about Beyoncé’s Lemonade hit the web one, two, and three days after it’s iconic debut on HBO. Everyone had a think piece, a dialogue and a theme they reviewed and projected for all to see. I’m no different, I did an hour long review on my channel because I had to get it out while it was hot and I was overwhelmed. Beware of shameless plug ahead:
But how could we get into the nitty gritty of this album in two days? How could we see ALL the layers and undercurrents of the visuals, the poetry, the looks, the art and the music in two to three watches? Nah, yo.
I was inspired this week to revist the film that moved and inspired me… and completely blew me out of the water — just when my edges were starting to grow back (and not because I’m heading back to the Formation World Tour for the second time this Friday… nigga, naw!). I realized, that what I first experienced was so shallow to what I see and understand now.
I want to point out the lack of chronological order of the visuals. There are times where Beyoncé repeats looks throughout different songs. We see this emblazoned pissed off Amazon for three tracks.
This image of the fiery Queen emerges in Don’t Hurt Yourself, Sorry & 6 Inch. Within one look, she emotes anger, distance, and a hardened spirit which crashes into a soup of hurt and vulnerability. Thus showing us her using her fire as a defense mechanism to not allow the pain to seep in.
We also see this colorful basket of African middle-of-the-century realness through different parts:
This look appears in Daddy Lessons, Forward, and All Night Long.
I point this out because this depicts the fragments of self thoughout the complex intracacies of our personal transformations. Just because you are going through a certain problem, doesn’t mean you completely change. Pieces of you are being dragged through different experiences, broken and separated until a new recombined “you” emerges.
She also repeats certain parts throughout her poetry, reappearing in themes so much later in the film that you may almost forget they are connected. She begins with “Intuition” for the introduction of the first track of the album Pray You Catch Me, evaluating how the “past & future merge”. She looks at how her father treated her mother, mirrored to how she is treated like her husband.
You remind me of my father, a magician … able to exist in two places at once. In the tradition of men in my blood, you come home at 3 a.m. and lie to me.
We see this theme again during the “Accountability” portion when Daddy Lessons begins. Life usually happens in a pattern: you are what you experience. How does her father reflect her husband? How does she, her mother?
You desperately want to look like her. You look nothing like your mother. You look everything like your mother.
Teach me how to make him beg. Let me make up for the years he made you wait. Did he bend your reflection? Did he make you forget your own name? Did he convince you he was a god? Did you get on your knees daily? Do his eyes close like doors? Are you a slave to the back of his head?
Am I talking about your husband or your father?
At this point we can question, Beyoncé recognizes she is going through her mother’s pattern, and well as asking her for the remedy. Is she truly seeking advice from her mother, or projecting images of her own circumstance within her questions?
Beyoncé also draws dark parallels between “cycles”: referring to the men in her life within the act of her blood. In “Intuition”, she says, “In the tradition of men in my blood”. In “Denial”, she emits “I drank the blood and drank the wine. I sat alone and begged and bent at the waist for God… I bathed in bleach, and plugged my menses with pages from the holy book, but still inside me, coiled deep, was the need to know … Are you cheating on me?”. Lastly, during “Emptiness”, she coils, “She sleeps all day. Dreams of you in both worlds. Tills the blood, in and out of uterus. Wakes up smelling of zinc, grief sedated by orgasm, orgasm heightened by grief.” These are three ways men are inside of her, like her blood: her father, her husband as her God, and her husband as himself.
She also begins the album with visuals of a deconstructed house, questioning her husband in comparison.
I tried to make a home out of you, but doors lead to trap doors, a stairway leads to nothing.
In “Forward”, we see an abundance of women, working together to build a garden with fruits, vegetables (and a plethora of curl patterns). The colors are bright, though they still operate in a broken and dark home. Deciding to heal, and taking the motions towards it, doesn’t automatically erase the damage. You have to work through the damage. In fact, Beyoncé no longer evaluated her husband from a distance; she walked through the damage. The dark and broken home which she explores alone, and evaluates.
She’s effortlessly conveyed such a dizzying experience in this film. The questioning and doubt of love, herself, her husband, her father and mother, all take us on a journey of uncertainty. The unsturdy ground in which she stood throughout this span of adultery, which shook the ground of where a self aware and confident woman once stood. She gives us visuals of dissassociated sense of self.
And as for us, an uneasy, ungrounded view of visual targets.
So what was Lemonade? It’s the recipe of the drink passed down from woman to woman in her family, grandmother, to mother, to daughter. As patterns of love emerge, these women have handed the recipe of broken love to her.
The past and the future merge to meet us here. What luck. What a f*cking curse.
However, she turns to these very women, and many other women, for the healing.
During “Sandcastles” we see this image:
At this point in the film, she is dedicated to breaking the pattern, the curse, the recipe. She will add beauty, to where there was pain. As reported by Chris Kelley,
The bowl is Japanese kitsugi, or “golden joinery”, a style of ceramics which repairs broken pieces of pottery into new objects, with the previous cracks left visible through lacquer mixed with powdered gold. The meaning is pretty clear: a broken bowl, or a broken relationship, can be fixed — and the work it takes to repair can make the final object more beautiful than it was before.
However, this isn’t the only way that she depicts how bringing new life comes from a source of pain. Simply bringing in more daughters causes pain to the mother, as the mother’s patterns of love cause pain to the daughter.
“I see your daughters and their daughters.” That night in a dream, the first girl emerges from a slit in my stomach. The scar heals into a smile.
I wake as the second girl crawls headfirst up my throat, a flower blossoming out of the hole in my face.
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. You passed these instructions down to your daughter who then passed it down to her daughter.
And lastly, the magician. Once an antagonist portrayed by her father, is now transformed into the hero of the story, portrayed by her husband. They both have broken the curse.
You’re the magician. Pull me back together again, the way you cut me in half. Make the woman in doubt disappear.
Yo… where’s Beyoncé’s Emmy??? Bey lost a Grammy to a man Kim Kardashian referred to as “who???” Lemon. Bey lost a VMA to a song by Taylor Swift no one even remembers? Lemon. Bey got cheated on? Lemon. Bey lost Star Search? Lemon. Matthew Knowles wanted to do wrong by Ms. Tina IN FRONT OF YONCÉ??? Lemon.
But what did Beysus do?
Take one pint of water, add a half pound of sugar, the juice of eight lemons, the zest of half a lemon. Pour the water from one jug then into the other several times. Strain through a clean napkin.
Beyoncé, like her grandmother, the alchemist.