Lemonade album cover from genius.com

Haley McCoy, Center Focus editor

     Back by popular demand, Beyonce has given the gift of “Lemonade” to the world, and no one saw it coming.

     It wasn’t enough for Formation to take the world by storm back in February. The music video relayed the simple message that black lives matter and black women are powerful and beautiful and cannot be silenced. The video begins with Beyonce sitting on top of a sinking police car in the flood waters of New Orleans. If that metaphor wasn’t blatantly obvious enough, the video goes on later to show a young black boy dancing in front of a riot-control police squad full of white men. The police put their hands up in front of the boy, and the video flashes to a graffiti-coated wall that says plainly “stop shooting us.”

     That video was a huge statement in itself, but then Beyonce, the Queen of having no regrets, walked out during the halftime show of Super Bowl 50, dressed to give homage Michael Jackson and singing her newest anthem while surrounded by dancers dressed like Black Panther activists. White America was outraged that Beyonce flaunt her “baby heir with baby hair afros” and her “negro nose with Jackson Five nostrils,” but it turned out that Beyonce was just getting started.

     On April 23, “Lemonade” was released as a visual album on HBO. That following Monday, the album was put on TIDAL and iTunes. No one knew what to expect after Formation, but certainly no one saw this coming. Many people ask if Jay-Z knew what the album said, and many listeners and members of the Beyhive assume that Jay-Z was in the dark like the rest of the world.

     Enter “Becky with the good hair.” While her visual album says it plainly, Beyonce’s audio album doesn’t come right out and say what the world could only guess at. Jay-Z cheated on Beyonce. With lyrics such as “you can taste the dishonesty,” “what a wicked way to treat the girl who loves you” and “if you try this … again, you gon’ lose your wife,” Beyonce says in fewer words that Jay-Z had been unfaithful.

     And what a way to announce it to the world. Beyonce knows that she is “the baddest woman in the game” and made an album to cover the raw emotions that she felt when she discovered her husband’s infidelity. It wasn’t enough to drag her husband down with her, though. In Daddy Lessons, Beyonce also puts her father at the mercy of the world, comparing her husband’s cheating to her father’s personality and attitude.

     “Lemonade” is both an audio and visual masterpiece, but not just because of what the lyrics mean. Cameos in her visual album are made by Serena Williams, Amandla Stenberg, Quvenzhané Wallis, Blue Ivy, and Zendaya. All of these women and girls have been picked apart by the media for their looks, their appearances, even the color of their skin. Beyonce’s songs aren’t just about cheating, there are underlying messages about self-love and the appreciation of black beauty. Skin pigmentation, hair styles, and black culture are all praised in the “Lemonade” film. She even includes a sound byte of famed Black Islam leader Malcolm X saying “the most disrespected person in America is the black woman.” Just as she does everything else, Beyonce praises black women unapologetically.

     That’s not enough for Beyonce, though. On top of self-love and feminism, Beyonce continues to nod at the Black Lives Matter movement. The mothers of the victims of police brutality hold the portraits of their children, staring defiantly into the camera. It’s a clear message that these people, this movement, will not go down without a fight. But even those statements were not the end of Beyonce’s voice. Included near the end of the album are cameos by same-sex couples, covering the majority of social issues currently making headlines.

     Beyonce is an unstoppable force of equality, social and political statements, and pride. She acts unapologetically, staying true to herself and letting others know that they, too, have something left in the world to be proud of. She is an icon, and if her past albums were not hints enough, Beyonce is a force to be reckoned with, both in music and in the realm of reality. And in true Beyonce style, “Lemonade” is an album that no one was expecting and that will not go away any time soon.

     Hattie White, Jay-Z’s grandmother, sums up the album perfectly. “I was served lemons, but I made lemonade.”