Pop superstar Beyonce released a musically diverse new album in the form of a film as she paid a bold tribute to the perseverance of African American women.
Billed as a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self knowledge and healing, the set features 12 new songs and a corresponding short film.
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“Lemonade” was advertised only as a special on cable network HBO but, in a move anticipated by her passionate fan base, she dropped an album by the same name in the middle of the broadcast.
The “visual-album” marks the second straight work in which the 34-year-old pop queen has experimented with merging formats – which could also include social media, where “Lemonade” quickly became a top trending topic.
The film, crafted through the album’s songs and verse from the Somali-British poet Warsan Shire against a Southern Gothic backdrop, follows Beyonce’s emotional journey as she tackles infidelity but also the larger experience of African American women.
Beyonce’s sixth studio album brings in a range of musical all-stars, with “Don’t Hurt Yourself” co-written by members of Led Zeppelin and the most anthem-like track, “Freedom,” featuring acclaimed rapper Kendrick Lamar.
Lemonade is structured around symbolic chapter titles, and touches on themes including black identity, marital infidelity, sisterhood, Christian faith and a final “Reconciliation.”
In a press release, TIDAL called LEMONADE: “a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self-knowledge and healing.”
Stream: Preview Beyonce’s new album LEMONADE!
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Beyonce – who became a superstar on innocuous songs such as “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” – startled many listeners in February when she put out the first “Lemonade” single, “Formation,” whose video takes the mantle of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Formation” – which appears only in the closing credits of the “Lemonade” film – shows Beyonce’s increasingly diverse musical instincts with the song driven by New Orleans-style bounce hip-hop.
Beyonce wrote two songs on “Lemonade” with Diplo, the Los Angeles electronic producer who has crafted Justin Bieber’s new sound, and even fuses in touches of country, as well as New Orleans jazz, on “Daddy Lessons.”
The pop star also tapped The Weeknd and Father John Misty, sensations in R&B and indie rock respectively, and adapts a chorus from punk revivalists the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Yet she also returns to the big-hearted ballads for which she is renowned on “Sandcastles,” written with the Chicago poet Malik Yusef.
“Lemonade” is Beyonce’s first full-length album since her self-titled release in late 2013.
The “Beyonce” album also incorporated a strong visual component, with short films to accompany the music.
But the theme of the 2013 album was far different, as it dealt with passion and monogamy, with the song “Drunk In Love” an ode to marital bliss sung in duet with Jay-Z.
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