On May 5, 2014, Beyoncé, Jay Z, and Solange entered an elevator. The events that followed created speculations that music’s most prominent couple was likely experiencing difficulties in their relationship. Through a released statement, they admitted family drama without ever revealing what actually provoked Solange to attack Jay Z. Well Beyoncé’s new album, Lemonade, which is accompanied by a one-hour visual that premiered on HBO, appears to delve into the issues within the Carter household.
The album opens with “Pray You Catch Me,” a song where she discovers that her lover is cheating and lying without much hesitation. Beyoncé sings, “You can taste the dishonesty, it’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier.” It’s a melancholy introduction of the initial pain of finding out that infidelity has occurred.
On “Hold Up,” Beyoncé seems to tell her lover that the other women can’t compare to what she brings to the table. “Back up, they don’t love you like I love you,” she sings. She later threatens violence if things continue to go too far: “Strolling through your call list, I don’t want to lose my pride, but I’m gonna f— me up a b—.” The anger reaches its crescendo on “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” as Beyoncé takes listeners into a full-fledged argument with assistance from Jack White: “Blindly in love, I f—s with you, until I realized I’m too much for you…tonight I’m f—g up all your s— boy!” She ends the song with a blatant threat: “This is your final warning, you know I give your life, if you try this s— again, you gonna lose your wife.”
“Sorry” unfolds like the morning after the big argument, as Beyoncé gathers the strength to walk away, at least for the time being. “Looking at my watch he should’ve been home, regretting that night I put that ring on,” she raps. By the end of the song, she seems to have forgiven her lover and challenges him to mature: “Me and my baby gonna be alright, we gonna live a good life, Big Homie better grow up.”
“Daddy Lessons” infuses New Orleans’ second line traditions with country and blues as Beyoncé tells a story where her father teaches her to shoot any man who attempts to do her wrong. “Love Drought,” “Sand Castles,” and “Forward” serve as songs where the worst issues have been confronted and the thoughts of how to handle the relationship in the future become evident.
But the ballad, “All Night” brings the entire project together. Beyoncé appears to forgive and now understands that even fairytales take hard work. Every good relationship is built on the idea of accepting each other’s flaws and surviving the bad times. “True love never has to hide, I trade your broken wings for mines,” she sings.
Kendrick Lamar provides another magnificent verse on the powerful “Freedom,” and The Weeknd joins Beyoncé to pay homage to strippers on “6-Inch.” “Formation,” which caused a stir when initially released, closes the album.
Overall, Lemonade is Beyoncé’s version of Here, My Dear— an album that detailed the fallout between Marvin Gaye and his wife Anna Gordy. Lemonade probably won’t be remembered as her most significant project, but it’s arguably Beyoncé’s most vulnerable moment.