“Lemonade” lives up to the hype

Image: billboard.com

Image: billboard.com

Beyoncé’s Lemonade was released to the public through a TV special on HBO last Saturday. Since then, it’s done as Beyoncé albums will do: provoked worldwide debacles on feminism, race and meme-ready lyrics.

In the week since its exclusive release on TIDAL, Lemonade has taken the streaming service to the top of music app sales. It’s also become a piracy smash. Since Saturday, the elusive album has already climbed to the top of the piracy search charts on Kickass Torrents and Pirate Bay.

On her sixth solo album, Bey brings in some of music’s biggest names. Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Ezra Koenig, The Weeknd and Diplo all make an appearance on the 12-track album.

Coinciding with the opening of her Formation World Tour on Wednesday, Lemonade has the public speculating the validity of its infidelity-themed plotline. Given her traditional less-is-more approach to dealing with the press, the release has left us with a lot more questions than answers.

As with most pop music, it isn’t uncommon for image to overpower the music, and few artists feel this weight as heavy as Queen B.

In spite of all the controversy  that’s been sparked by Lemonade, I hope people see what’s important about this album – it’s good music.

She opens mid-scene, as soothing harmonies set the stage for the drama on love, feminism and race that is about to unfold.

The cheeky phrasing of the reggae-influenced track “Hold Up” has Father John Misty’s name all over it, who holds a writing credit along with Koenig. In addition, Diplo’s production influence brings a lazy Caribbean feel, which later returns on the track “All Night.”

From there she makes an interesting transition to the avant-garde beats of “Don’t Hurt Yourself” featuring rock icon Jack White. Her impressive Joplin-like vocal stylings hang over the jam’s frantic energy, recalling that of Jack’s old White Blood Cell days.

Catchy hooks and sultry beats continue through on “Sorry” and “6 Inch,” with the latter featuring the current king of croon himself, The Weeknd.

The album takes a slight southern detour with “Daddy Lessons.” This hoedown track comes complete with barnyard hoops and hollers in the background. While a valiant homage to New Orleans blues and jazz, it seems out of place among the other tracks.

The album’s call-to-arms comes in the form of the stomping, gospel-tinged track “Freedom,” featuring hip-hop mogul Kendrick Lamar. The two come together in a political and personal war cry over funky keyboard riffs and marching beats.

Beyoncé brings the album’s central conflicts to a near resolution with a triumphant cry: “Imma keep running ‘cause a winner don’t quit on themselves.”

This album finds its strength in the compilation. No doubt the R&B queen could’ve made another stellar pop album on her own, but with a little help from her friends, she’s created a genre-hopping release that has everyone talking.

From start to finish, Lemonade is a testament to Beyoncé’s transcendence as an artist. My only plea is that listeners focus more on the impeccable production, political undertones and all-star collaborative influences and less on “Becky with the good hair.”

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