Sipping Beyonce’s Lemonade

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Up until last night, I wasn’t a Beyonce fan. I liked her, even if I only knew ‘Single Ladies’ and some of her Destiny’s Child work, but I was not a fan – certainly not a member of the Beyhive. Now, I’ve sipped the lemonade, and I’m a big damn buzzing bee. She debuted her visual album ‘Lemonade’ on HBO last night, and it was a marvel. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it surpassed much of Madonna’s most recent work, and will hopefully be a little reminder of the possibilities of what an artist can accomplish these days.

Visually stunning, it tells the loosely plotted story of a relationship fractured and then put back together. While the ending is a happy one, it doesn’t feel entirely complete, and the issues that Ms. B raises are not simply or easily solved. I have no idea what it means to be a black woman in this country, and I certainly have no idea what it means to be Beyonce, but this work juxtaposes the two, with chilling references to the past, and a few terrifyingly personal moments of the present.

Most impressively, the hour-long work was a masterpiece in that it kept the viewer guessing as to how much of this was Beyonce’s life, and how much of it was artistic license and expression. That’s the sort of thing that always moved me most about Madonna, and it’s something I’ve tried to create in my own way right here on this blog. We each inhabit characters, playing up different versions of ourselves, all in an attempt to get closer to the truth. When we get comfortable, we tend to stay put and live in that comfort. The best artists don’t do that. They refuse. And they come up with some wonderful stuff to prove it.

Beyonce did that last night, and after tasting this ‘Lemonade’ I’m a proud member of the Beyhive.

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