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Lemonade: An Analysis of the Visual Album

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Sarah Johnson

on 15 July 2016

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Transcript of Lemonade: An Analysis of the Visual Album

Lemonade: An Analysis of the Visual Album
Part IV: Apathy
Despite the apologetic title, this song is anything but sorry
"Headed to the club, I ain't thinking 'bout you/ Me and my ladies sip my D'USSÉ cup/I don't give a f***, chucking my deuces up"
Juxtaposition from
"Don't Hurt Yourself"
; although it has the same message, this is more upbeat. In a way, this beat symbolizes Beyonce trying to cheer herself up after what happened and acting like she doesn't care.
Mood of song changes towards the end to represent a realization of what is actually happening
References to one of Jay Z's nicknames essentially calling him out;
"Big Homie better grow up"
Part VII: Reformation
Lyrics speak of starting the healing process of Beyonce's recovery. A lot of the song talks about trying to regain trust again
Mellow, airy music is representation of her anger and aggression lightening up; clearing the mind
"Nine times out of ten, I'm in my feelings/But ten times out of nine, I'm only human/Tell me, what did I do wrong?/Feel like that question has been posed/I'm movin' on/I'll always be committed, I been focused/I always paid attention, been devoted/Tell me, what did I do wrong?"
Referencing her fame as an outlet
"If I wasn't Bey would you still feel me?"
Part I: Intuition
Song: Pray You Catch Me
Part II: Denial
Reggae inspired sound; relating to one of many types of traditional African American music inspirations
"Something don't feel right / I smell your secret and I'm not too perfect to ever feel this worthless / How did it come to this? Going through your call list / I don't want lose my pride, but I'ma f*** me up a b****."

"Jealous or Crazy" juxtapositions relates back to this theme of manic/psychotic behavior (smiling while smashing cars)
Juxtapositions of feelings is a key sign of denial
Water signifies a reference to Ophelia from Hamlet. Instead of drowning, she decides to take the harder road
Part V: Emptiness
Collaborative effort between Beyonce and the Weeknd
Song about independent women who is powerful and works for her money
“She’s too smart to crave material things / She’s pushing herself, day and night / She grinds from Monday to Friday, work from Friday to Sunday,”
Most believe it is solely about sex trafficking and prostitution but it's in fact about the actual cheating process people most often go towards
Part VI: Accountability
About the lessons Beyonce's father, Matthew Knowles taught her
“Daddy made a soldier out of me / Daddy made me dance / Daddy held my hand,”
Her father was her manager for a while until they had a very public falling out due to her father's infidelity to her mother as shown in hues throughout the film
Her father is not dead (as seen in the footage after the film of him and Blue Ivy) but is symbolic to the "death" of her parent's marriage
Juxtaposition to her father being strict on men she dates
“My daddy warned me about men like you,”
Country vibe to represent her Texas roots
Part III: Anger
Plain and simple, she is incredibly angry
"Who the f*** do you think I am?/You ain't married to no average b**** boy"
"give my big fat a** a kiss boy"
Bass collaborative effort with Jack White of White Stripes creating a blend of Rock and R&B
Censorship of cursing gradually becomes sloppy and non existent towards the end of the song; representing the lack of care she has to show how angry she really is
Part VIII: Forgiveness
Part IX: Resurrection
Part X: Hope
Part XI: Redemption
Song exemplifies suspicion of cheating;
"You can taste the dishonesty/it's all over your breath as you pass it off so caviler" "My lonely ear; pressed against the walls of your world"
Chorus signifies the search for clarity even if she's caught ease dropping
"Prayin' you catch me listening/I'm prayin' to catch you whispering"
Breaking one of the cardinal rules of relationships (trust) is what is necessary to decide if he is cheating
Part I: Intuition
Symbolism of Video
Many shots reveal the signs of a crumbling/damaged relationship
i.e Chain link on the side of house/Beyonce in a field of dead grass
Beyonce hunched over on the stage not only represents the crumbling relationship, but also signifies her ready to face public scrutiny
Instead of falling to the ground, Beyonce lands in water signifying clarity/cleansing/healing
"Hold Up"
Part II: Denial
Pipliotti Rist "Ever is Over All"
Visual art piece that depicts woman smashing car windows with flower
Received as "whimsical and anarchical" a contrast of these two emotions
"Don't Hurt Yourself"
Part III: Anger
Malcolm X: "Who Taught You to Hate Yourself"
“The most disrespected woman in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
Raised issues about self hatred (of hair texture, skin color, nose shape) that Beyonce will explore later in the song
Although this quote is directed towards black women in America, this opens a portal to other issues occurring in present America
i.e police brutality, black self-love
Part III: Anger
Poetry Analysis and Symbolism
As Beyoncé threatens to wear the skin of her lover’s mistress over her own, dancers wear white fabric that is stretched over and connects their bodies, a visual reminiscent of the similarly costumed dancers in her music video ‘Ghost’.
Part IV: Apathy
Sacred Art of the Ori
Laolu Senbanjo, a Nigerian visual artist, is famous for painting that represents contemporary African Art as seen in Lemonade
Sacred Art of the Ori is described as a “spiritually intimate experience” that connects the minds, bodies and soul of both artist and muse. The artist paints what spiritual connection he/she feels with the muse
This painting is symbolic of the connections between Beyoncé and her lover along with bringing Africa and America together through pop culture
Part IV: Apathy
Who is Becky?
The name Becky is referred to as a white woman who is promiscuous, history of name goes back in history of pop culture
William Makepeace Thackeray's 1847 novel "Vanity Fair." included the main protagonist Becky Sharp who seduced wealthy men to climb the British Aristocracy
Mark Twain 1876, Tom Sawyer was seduced by a blonde pigtailed Becky
In 1938, the novel "Rebecca" by Daphne de Maurier is about a secretly conniving and evil Rebecca. She seemed perfect to everyone on the outside, but really she was cheating tramp.
Sir Mix A Lot's "Baby Got Back" has an incredibly famous line referring to a conversation had with Becky. "Oh my god Becky, look at her butt." The voice of a white woman comes off as close minded
"6 inch"
Part V: Emptiness
Visual Symbolism
Visual is heavy with red lights, peep shows, and street pick ups of sex workers
Inspiration from
music video; instead of it being about a backseat encounter, Beyonce is in the backseat without her lover
Lace Bodysuit she wears while burning down the house is the same bodysuit she wore in her promotional tour Mrs. Carter, referencing Jay Z
"Daddy's Lesson"
"Love Drought"
Part VII: Reformation
Igbo Landing Imagery
Igbo Landing is the site of a mass suicide of Igbo slaves that occured in 1803 in St. Simmons Island, Georgia
A group of Igbo slaves revolted and took control of their slave ship, grounded it on an island, and rather than submit to slavery, proceeded to march into the water while singing in Igbo, drowning themselves in turn
Beyoncé marches into the water followed by a group of black women all in white with black fabric in the shape of a cross across the front of their bodies.
This scene and the video as a whole also occurs in a marshy, swampy landscape, matching African-American folklore descriptions of the location of Igbo Landing.
Imagery of Beyoncé physically bound in ropes and resisting their pull, which directly evokes slavery, resistance and the events at Igbo Landing
Song: "Sandcastles"
Lyrics touch upon how Beyonce is forgiving Jay Z but will have to build new again
"We built sand castles that washed away/I made you cry when I walked away/Oh, and although I promised that I couldn't stay, baby/Every promise don't work out that way"
You can still hear anger in her voice but still is looking to move forward in her relationship
"Show me your scars/I won't walk away"
Part VIII: Forgiveness

The Cracked Bowl Symbolism
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
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
Collaboration with James Blake
Shortest song on the album but has the most impact message wise
References outside of Beyonce's relationship and into African American issues across the country
"Forward/Best foot first just in case/When we made our way 'til now/It's time to listen, it's time to fight"
Part IX: Resurrection
Who are these women?
Beyonce toys with the distinctions between public and private, general and specific, real and fake, past and present through her juxtaposition.
These are the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Michael Brown intermixed with actresses holding photographs of unknown men, Beyonce suggests that the distinctions are less important than some may make them out to be.
Song: "Freedom"
Collaborative efforts between Beyonce and Kendrick Lamar
This is a triumph for many reasons, but the fact that it takes a strong stance, encourages action, and aims to prompt people to take control of their futures is incredibly powerful
Not only is she asking for freedom of her emotions from her cheating husband, but she is also asking for the freedom of African Americans
"Freedom! Freedom! I can't move/Freedom, cut me loose!/Singin', freedom! Freedom! Where are you?/Cause I need freedom too!Hey! I'ma keep running/Cause a winner don't quit on themselves"
Part X: Hope
Why is it called Lemonade?
Several references are made to lemons and lemonade throughout the visual album (lemon colored outfits/decor)
The recipe for lemonade spoken in between is Beyonce's mother's recipe for lemonade to add her personal touch
The woman who speaks "I was given lemons so I made lemonade" is Jay Z's grandmother Hattie and is the inspiration for the album name
"All Night"
This song caps off a story that began about being broken and in battle with forgiveness and love.
The images of real-life couples of various races, ages, and orientations shows that no matter what kind of couple you are, you will go through difficulties and still work through them together
Shows personal footage of her family to show that she too is a real person (as hard as it to believe)
Part XII: Formation
Sinking Car/Houses: Aftermath of New Orleans' Hurricane Katrina
Commentary Voice: Messy Mya (African America Controversial Comedian from New Orleans who was shot in a protest)
Women in White/Men in Black: Represents before and after of slavery. Women in corsets is the time of being "free but not really free". Men in black represent a more empowered free in front of the plantation
All shows culture of African American Heritage along with the city of New Orleans
Video promotes black self-love and sticking together through tough times
Represents empowerment personally through her tough times with Jay Z, referencing
"I rock his roc necklaces"
Why New Orleans?
Setting for a large majority of filming; hub of African American Culture
Lemonade repeatedly returns to:
moss-covered bayou
buildings that resemble plantation homes
attendant slave quarters
Instead of an antebellum memory, these scenes portray a dream:
fantasy of an all-black, matriarchal utopia when women dress up, prepare meals, take photographs and perform shows, not for a master but for themselves.
Beyoncé returns to the Superdome, which was the site of her first Super Bowl performance and a shelter of last resort after Hurricane Katrina
Album pays tribute to New Orleans culture, jazz, Mardi Gras and cuisine
Do you have Hot Sauce in your bag?
Hot Sauce is not a physical condiment but a relic and reminder of southern culture
Hot Sauce is referencing the baseball bat used to smash the cars in "Hold Up" as a power force of defense against African American cultural backlash
Part II: Denial
Oshun the Water Goddess
Oshun is a Nigerian water goddess for the people of the Yourba tribe.
Female goddess representing love, fertility, and life
Oshun is often depicted in yellow surrounded by fresh water
Folktales of Oshun also describe her temper and her "sinister smile" when she or her people have been wronged
Part IV:
African Sculptures
In classic African Art, most recognized pieces are of women without arms; emphasizing the beauty of their faces and crowns of hair.
Beyonce sits Nefertiti style during the reference of "Becky" to embrace African beauty as a message to black women to not be pressured by westernized culture
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