When people say that they do not like Beyonce, there is only one question to ask.
When did your fave ever?
If you do not like her work, then you cannot like work. If you do not like what she does, then you cannot like popular music. Her performances are singularly stellar. She sounds as good live as she does on her records, and she's probably the only singer alive today that can sustain a full belt through an incredibly intense dance break.
In Hold Up she sings, "what's worse being jealous or crazy?" And then she answers that she'd rather be crazy. That's clear because only a crazy person would release an album on the weekend that Prince died. Anyway you think about it that is something that most people know not to do. We only have room for so much. This weekend I only had room for Prince. I only wanted his extra time and his kisses. Everything else and everyone else was irrelevant. In the thick of my youtube Prince education, I forgot about the HBO promo that she'd made a week before.
I'm a tangential member of the Beyhive. I'm the prodigal Bee. Some of you live there all year round, in years of bounty and in years of drought. I only come round when there's new material. As a result it is no surprise that I wasn't among the first to write, but I'm fairly sure that I won't be the last.
There's an essay on the Daily Mail where Piers Morgan writes that he believes that Beyonce's a born again black woman using her new found blackness for commercial purposes. This opinion isn't just wrong, it's racist. For as long as there has been music, musicians have farmed their personal experiences for material. Some have formed entire careers off the premise that they've been shot nine times. Rags to riches stories are as common as the discovery of sex or a new found love of the powers of marijuana. Why should stories of blackness be treated any differently?
I can all but guarantee that if Beyonce had began her solo career by wearing her blackness on her sleeve she wouldn't be as huge as she is. At best she'd be Azealia Banks and at worst her career would be a gravestone in the realm of the hasbeens and the no longer relevant. Instead she hid her black girl magic in very catchy but relateable riffs about being crazy in love. Themes so relateable that her race was invisible. You may ask why she's chosen 2016 to come out with it, but the truth is you wouldn't have listened if she'd done it in 2003. In 2003 you could have ignored her, now you can't.
There is no one in this generation that could have done it as well as she. No one can tell stories about the black woman like the black woman. It is unfortunate that there are so few mouthpieces left with as much reach. When she speaks she turns the world into her echo chamber. You'll see the black power symbol at the Superbowl, and stop shooting us will find your eyes on MTV. On HBO you'll hear "if it's truly what you want, I can wear her hair over mine, her skin over mine, her hands as gloves, and her teeth as confetti."
In that you'll get a glimpse into what black girls the world round think before every job interview, as they think about the weave they'll have to wear, or the perm they'll have to get. It's what the girl that wrote to Lupita thought about while she considered buying Dencia's Whitenicious bleaching cream.
Maybe now that she's revealed her black heart, other people won't try so hard to hide theirs.
There are two ways to enjoy Lemonade. You can watch the hour long film with its black girl magic and pride, or you can listen to the songs in isolation. Both offer different experiences. When you listen to the music on its own, it's a similar Beyonce to the one you've always known. Her voice is still impeccable, her range is still breathtaking. You will be surprised that its the most genreless album she's ever made. There's rock, country, reggae, pop and R&B. It makes sense. One as gifted as she should not have to exist in boxes.
When you watch the film, you see it for what it is. Stories that touch from a black woman to the world.