Following the release of her eponymous album ‘Beyonce’ in 2013, Beyonce Knowles, the queen in her cryptic persona took the world unawares (again) by releasing her sixth album titled ‘Lemonade’ on Saturday, April 23, exclusively on Tidal streaming services, moments after the visual album made its debut on HBO networks.
It is a twelve-track album with collaborative efforts from The Weeknd, James Blake and Jack White of The White Stripes. The album addresses issues about infidelity, family and social injustice against the black race. Here is a review of each track.
Pray You Catch Me
The opener can be likened to a mash up of ‘Pretty Hurts’ and ‘Heaven’. A low tempo track with breathy harmonies, bass guitar riffs, scintillating strings smoothly laced with piano keys. It’s a wishful and mildly confrontational track, one in which she hopes to catch her lover whispering sweet nothings to another, and also hoping she gets caught listening to them. Beyonce pours her emotion into this track – a sad, dark reflecting emotion of remorse and resentment, yet with a wish to get back to how things were formerly. It closes with her questioning, ‘what are you doing my love?’
This is definitely a ‘Killer track.’ Hold Up is a low-tempo reggae track, reminiscent of a breezy sunny tropical beach. The element of this track has a feel of easiness, although the track basically is about Beyonce addressing her lover, educating him on how no one could love him and ultimately asking him to hold up and realise how good a lover and woman she is. ‘Hold up’ samples Andy Williams’ Can’t Get Used to Losing You; it also samples excerpts from Beyonce’s ‘Countdown’ at the bridge section.
Don’t Hurt Yourself ft Jack White
Beyonce’s big ego comes to play on this reggae meets rock ‘n’ roll track. Filled with braggadocio, she constantly and fiercely reminds her man about who she is, letting him understand that whatever he does to her, he does to himself, and constantly threatens to leave him.
With drums, bass guitars, electric guitars and screams, Beyonce takes her alter ego (Sasha Fierce) to a whole new level. ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ is a stronger version of her 2011 track ‘I Care,’ both addressing infidelity issues. It would be a favourite track for her upcoming world tour.
Beyonce found a way to reinvent her old track ‘Irreplaceable’, with middle fingers and waving goodbyes. She shows no regrets breaking up with her lover and rejects any form of apologies from him; in fact she takes advantage and hangs out with her girls. This track explores elements of trap music while it manages to keep it danceable and can be likened to a mid-tempo version of ‘Flawless’.
6 inches ft The Weeknd
No, she is not making reference to what you think. The track talks about a female figure, a strong female figure with a femme fatal persona. She oozes with confidence, works hard and ultimately slays in her six inch heels. This track sees minimalist effort by The Weeknd. The track also explores trap elements.
This is an absolutely brilliant track. It explores the southern music culture of New Orleans Jazz and Texas Country music. Flavoured with harmonious hand claps, horns and acoustic guitar, the track delivers a southern homely feel. Song lyrics are in a story form, detailing her relationship with him and basically how she was trained by him; a song every father ought to be proud of. The music style is similar to Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’.
The track has a cosmic feel to it, sang by an extraterrestrial being from a science fiction movie. It stands as one of the album’s low points. A rather cold version of Beyonce’s ‘Mine’.
Beyonce’s performance of this track is raw, emitting pain and anger. Piano laden, gospel tinged; the track talks about a failed relationship and its woes. On this track Beyonce delivers vocally in acappella.
Forward ft James Blake
At 1:19 minutes, Beyonce keeps her fans wanting more. Characteristic of sandcastle, it’s pretty much an interlude for a track.
Freedom ft Kendrick Lamar
This track exudes power and strength, a perfect anthem for the Black Lives Matters movement. Its presentation sets Beyonce as a legend (living, of course). It is one track you will definitely put on replay as its marching bands and vibrant chorus are unmatched at any level.
The track samples Kaleidoscope’s ‘Let Me Try,’ it also samples excerpts from Jay Z’s grandmother’s speech on her 90th anniversary celebration, quoting ‘she was served lemons but she made lemonade.’ The statement is said to have inspired the title of the album.
Reminiscent of Dawn Penn’s ‘You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)’, Beyonce delivers a mid-tempo reggae tinged track, and can also be likened to works by the reggae group, Magic! On this track Beyonce serenades her lover, promising to love him all night long. In spite of his pride, she believes that true love conquers all. It is basically kiss and make up track. Beyonce also does some sweet melody on this one.
A pro-black, pro-female track, met with criticism and praise alike. Formation serves as the closing album track. It explores Louisiana bounce music style and featured bounce queen/cross dresser Big Freedia. The track highlights topics as police brutality, homosexuality and pride to her black roots. Formation was released as a free track and failed to chart well on most music chart, but its cultural influence cannot be overlooked.
This album shows how Beyonce has grown as an artist, perfecting her art, exploring and experimenting with different music genres. On another note; it’s worth noting how she revisited the reggae genre, which seems to form the crux of the album, although not as a singular genre, but with mixed influences. On this album, she tends to abandon her rhythm and blues root just a little bit. She has proven yet again that she is not a singles artist, but a grounded album artist.