Beyoncé's Lemonade gets more personal than the superstar ever has before. Or is that what they want us to think?
Lemonade is the most recent release from the woman who may be the first ex-Mrs. Carter. An album, flash released on Saturday, April 23, which debuted as a corresponding HBO video series, rife with marital strife. Sure, there's plenty of the historically-charged imagery seen in the supposedly controversial video for "Formation," (as if it's a secret African Americans are targeted and racially profiled); black women sitting on plantation porches – an allusion to the common thread of infidelity and the power dynamics of marriage? Alice Walker's The Color Purple comes to mind, a novel about the many facets of power, not just the racial dynamics of the Antebellum South.
Liberation, or at least atonement for certain indiscretions or infidelities – marital reparations, if you will – streak the album and it's visual counterpart. This would seem like a revelation from a woman who is often accused of not saying anything to the press, supposedly because she has nothing to say. "You can taste the dishonesty, it's all over your breath."
Is Beyoncé actually saying that Jay Z fucked somebody else and she, the Queen of the monolith of pop culture, a woman in which we bestow our assumed best qualities, make a totem of, has had to suffer? Like us? Is she willing to be that honest with her audience? It's the catch-22 of Beyoncé, the artist; her unwillingness to just speak to us and say "Fuck police brutality" or "If your man is cheating on you, drop him," her insistence upon keeping much of her private life private, as understandable as it is, to simply never speak to the press or communicate outside of the music video makes such close-vested, tight-lipped confessions seem questionable.
But then there's Beyoncé throwing her ring at the camera, bad-bitching you with "This is your final warning. You know I give you life / You try this shit again, you gonna lose your wife."
Each chapter of the episodic cleansing begins with a spoken-word rumination from Beyoncé. "Are you cheating on me?" She's reading from Somali-British poet Warsan Shire's, including "For Women Who Are Difficult to Love."
There's even "Ashes to ashes. Dust to side chicks," more lines from Shire. Would she stoop to such civilian worries? Infidelity isn't very glamorous, after all. That proletariat predicament of the most bourgeois of institutions. Surely in Beyoncé's world all that fame and fortune, power, her cultural capital shield her from the repercussions of the jaded, love-lorn every-person. At least that's the mystique we've been fed.
Is it fathomable that Sean Carter would let his wife call him a liar, a cheater, a man with whom she "tried to make a home out of ... but doors lead to trapped doors?" Would he let Mrs. Knowles-Carter shit all over his, no, their fairy-tale conglomeration? It does pull us into the drama of the Knowles-Carters even more. Are they that business savvy? Willing to stretch their marriage upon the cliched rack of lust and adultery for the simple sake of stoking the adoring public's infatuation? Considering the flack Jay Z may take for being called out for cheating on the baddest woman in the game? Oh, and Hova's releasing the album via his own streaming service, Tidal. A further form of recompense? If so, a brilliantly strategized, marketed one. Or, is it simply the third-degree burns of a woman scorned?
We ask, and therein lies the fuel of the celebrity-industrial complex of this power couple of power couples. The curiosity. That marketed aloofness is going to be a burden to overcome, for the listener especially, if we are expected to offer our sincere acknowledgement of Beyoncé's blues.