In case you didn’t know, Beyoncé – AKA Queen B – is well and truly back. The artist too good for us all turned the music scene on its head over the past 48 hours by releasing her sixth project – a visual album – into the world. ‘Lemonade,’ which aired on HBO this weekend, is much more than an album. Comprised of a 65-minute short film, the project features 12 new tracks, but it is also a narrative full of personal and political statements, cultural references and a detailed glimpse into the life of the iconic performer. Below is all you need to know:
It’s best enjoyed as a visual experience (at least for the initial watch)
Lemonade is a visual album – a number of music videos offset by chapter titles like “Intuition,” Denial,” Apathy, “Emptiness” and, eventually, “Resurrection” – connected by a voiceover from Beyoncé reading beautiful words by Somali-British poet Warsan Shire. Such is the strength of the new tracks, they can stand alone without their accompanying clips, but trust us, for the full impact, watch the hour-long video in full. The fashion, the eye-catching set ups, and all the interweaving links are what makes this a true work of art.
Everyone’s talking about it because….
It’s an ode to infidelity. When camera footage leaked of the infamous elevator showdown between Jay Z and Beyoncé’s sister Solange, the singer stood silently as the drama unfolded – it’s only now that she’s offering some insight (and direct commentary) into the truth behind the rumours that have surrounded her marriage for years. From the opening “are you cheating on me?” to the more direct “this is your final warning,” there’s no mistaking the fact that their union hasn’t been without problems, and it seems that Jay Z has 99 of them now. The story arc comes full circle, and it seems the pair reach a reconciliation, but not before Beyoncé lays everything out on the table.
The duets are an album highlight
The album features guest appearances by Kendrick Lamar, The Weekend and Jack White, and these tunes are the strongest tracks. There is also a myriad of samples by Led Zeppelin, Animal Collective and The Beat’s version of Can’t Get Used To Losing You. There’s even a country song, which surprisingly really works.
It’s full of cameos
Tennis goddess Serena Williams? Halle Berry? Disney star Zendaya? Jay Z’s grandmother? The visual album was filled with cameos. Perhaps most moving were the appearances of the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, and Eric Garner. Martin was 17 when he was killed by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012; Brown and Garner were both killed by US police in 2014. Their deaths have been among the most prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racial injustice, which Beyoncé touched on in her Formation music video.
You can stream it on Tidal
This weekend, the release was solely available to stream on Tidal, the music-streaming service developed by Jay Z. Various reports are confirming that Lemonade will slowly be rolled out to iTunes over the coming days hours slash days, but you’ll have to purchase it – rumour says it won’t be available to stream via subscription-based services such as (iTunes Music and Spotify) outside of Tidal. And therein lies Beyoncé’s marketing prowess.