Beyonce Incorporates Rock and Southern Roots in Spirited ‘Lemonade’

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Attention, young children who will soon embark on a summer of selling 25-cent roadside lemonade: here’s a hint for all you aspiring entrepreneurs. When it comes to making the best lemonade money can buy, leave out the lemons and skimp on the sugar. Instead, try adding a pinch of raw Southern rock, stir in the tart sting of infidelity, and overdo it on the zest of an empowered woman. Forget all you thought you knew about making the sweet beverage best for an afternoon of blistering heat, because when it comes to creating Lemonade, Beyonce has everyone beat.

On Saturday, in a not-so-surprising turn of events, the R&B megastar brought yet another buzzworthy album into a world that had long awaited her imminent return. After a three-year stint spent eerily absent from the public eye, Beyonce returns radiant and more unapologetic than ever in her emotion-laden LP Lemonade, a 12-track affirmation of her unique vocal talent, lyrical mastery, and firm stances on some of the most pressing social issues plaguing the public today.

Following the surprise HBO showing of her hour-long “visual album” and the subsequent online release of the new songs, Queen Bey has received massive praise for the reclamation of her Southern roots and successful stray from the perky, R&B dance beats expected of the artist. Throughout this new release, her sixth studio album as a solo artist after splitting with girl-power hip hop group Destiny’s Child, Beyonce opts instead to incorporate blues-rock infused with a palpable Americana spirit. It’s punchy, it’s incredibly powerful, and it’s a little bit of a beautiful mess as far as fluidity goes.

Expertly blending genres in wild, unprecedented ways—peppy reggae, atmospheric pop, and breathy love ballads collide in an overstimulating auditory experience—Beyonce brings the same energy and infectious, feminist attitude from her self-titled 2013 release, but with a few changes. Instead of the lustful and love-saturated lyrics that served as the foundation for Beyonce, Lemonade tackles a rather sour subject instead: infidelity.


 


“Hold Up,” with its upbeat, glowy tone paired with a bold reggae percussion, is a vocalization of Beyonce’s internal monologue as the star ruminates over her husband’s alleged adulterous acts. Despite its depressing lyrics, Beyonce searches for answers as she sing-speaks, “Know that I kept it sexy, know I kept it fun. There’s somethin’ else I’m missing—maybe my head, for one.” Much like the choppy but triumphant “Sorry,” “Hold Up” is an instant album standout—a titillating and feisty Beyonce track boasting a catchy hook that just won’t quit.

In attempts to reclaim the rock genre, Beyonce draws from Alabama Shakes’ fearless frontwoman Brittany Howard with familiar, bluesy beats and muffled vocals in “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” a screechy and shrill collaboration with Jack White that culminates in harshly shouted lyrics. Another rage-filled rock song is the singer’s triumphant “Freedom,” a Kendrick Lamar collaboration whose lyrics are laced with vengeance and empowered ferocity. In her last refrain of the song, Beyonce confidently asserts, “I’ma keep running / Cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.” Adding to the star-studded collab series featured on Lemonade is “6 inch,” the sultry and slow-paced track in which the The Weeknd lends his soulful tone, shining as more than a mere accessory to the song’s sensual aesthetic.

Lemonade is a surprising venture into the realm of rock for a singer so firmly established in the R&B/pop realm. Immaculately produced in spite of the purposely muddled background instrumentals, the album’s sound and accompanying lyrics beautifully encapsulate Beyonce’s proud embracing of her race, womanhood, and strong Texas roots.

The singer’s second visual album—a truly spectacular feat of cinematic artistry—reveals the all-too-underestimated struggles of women worldwide. Separated from the video, however, the music spins an entirely different story—Beyonce’s own story, to be precise, a more personal and intimate experience of a loving wife wronged, a strong woman scorned.

In Lemonade, Beyonce does what she does best: astound an audience. With disjointed tracks, an inventive clash of genres, and a tracklist rife with warnings against infidelity, Lemonade is perfectly unapologetic. In a lyric line which encapsulates the spirit of the album, Beyonce Knowles Carter states, undaunted and empowered, “I ain’t sorry.”

Featured Image By Colombia Records

About Hannah McLaughlin 123 Articles
Hannah is the social media director for The Heights. She enjoys quality comedic television, takes her Irish Breakfast tea with milk and sugar, and argues that chocolate milk should be a staple at every self-respecting eatery. For a delightful melange of film critiques and '30 Rock' references, follow her on Twitter @hjmclaughlin