24 Apr 2017

Albums of 2016: Beyoncé's Lemonade

(An essay about music writing as political praxis)

- Introduction

What was Lemonade about? If you answered, “Jay Z cheating on Beyoncé,” dismiss yourself now. (Erica Thurman, Life Behind the Veil)
You may have watched Beyoncé’s Lemonade… but have you seen Lemonade? (Megan Carpentier, The Guardian)
Whether you love her, hate her, or stay strong in your neutrality, our exchanges are kind of the point. This is what art makes us do. (Frannie Kelley, NPR)
  • What is Lemonade?
(Or, we might now ask, a whole year after it dropped—)
  • What was Lemonade?
  • What is/was Lemonade about?
Beyoncé’s Lemonade was preceded by questions. We knew it was coming, we knew when and where it would occur, but we didn’t know what it was. All we knew was that it was Beyoncé’s Lemonade.

What was Lemonade? In the frantic flurry of news stories, reviews and think pieces offering an answer to this question, one common conclusion was that Lemonade was ‘a statement’. In this essay, I will argue that Lemonade was also a question. In fact, it was several questions, including those listed above. Beyoncé’s Lemonade asks: ‘What is/was Beyoncé’s Lemonade?’ and ‘What is/was Beyoncé’s Lemonade about?’