|Parkwood · Columbia | discogs.com|
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Lemonade was ranked third in my Top Ten Albums I Wrote About in 2016
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If ever one should find oneself in a moral conundrum, there is but a single question one must ask oneself: what would Beyoncé do? Acquire prohibitively expensive life-saving medicines? Search one's pockets for a spare sapphire or two one surely has lying around. Steal bread to feed a starving family? The mere touch of Beyoncé's impeccably manicured finger would cause a loaf of Wonder White to instantly multiply into a cornucopia of brioche.
But when presented with the realisation that one's husband has been playing fast and loose with the monogamy clause implicit in one's marriage? What does one do when life delivers one lemons?
Beyoncé made Lemonade.
There are few musicians who could spin such an engrossing emotional journey from panicked disbelief to unbridled rage through to inevitable reconciliation and forgiveness. But there are none who could frame this so deftly against a larger thematic backdrop. Beyoncé has set her own struggles to be listened to and understood against generations of black women fighting for the rights denied to them by authorities, always male-dominated, inevitably white. She has cast herself, deservedly so, as the archetypical black woman.
(I refrain from going beyond describing the racial foundation of Lemonade — opinions and interpretations should be left to people far less pasty than I)
The result is nothing less than thrilling.
Beyoncé had crafted a single message from myriad different shards. Lemonade solders together a dozen different genres with the sheer heat of the ferociously feminist thread at its core. One minute she's slinking her way through murky dancefloor techno, the next she's whipping her cornrows to vitriolic grungy punk.
This is all to say nothing of the literal voice conducting the brilliant artistic one. Versatile and elastic, it can do anything from ear-splitting shrieks and howls to the sultriest and most intimate of whispers. Beyoncé could sing the phone book and still top the charts.
Seldom do I exhort people as strongly as I do now. Beyoncé is a once-in-a-generation talent, and she has finally bestowed upon us her magnum opus. You must experience Lemonade.