Ever since Beyoncé dropped her visual album “Lemonade,” the Internet has been flooded with talk about whether or not Bey was singing about Jay Z’s infidelity. Since then, everyone has been reading into lyrics about “Becky with the good hair” and “I regret the night I put that ring on” to draw conclusions about what really went down when there’s “a billion dollars on an elevator.”
But now that the dust (or pulp) has settled, Beyoncé’s mother Tina Knowles-Lawson has come forward, revealing what the album is really about. In an interview this week with ABC12 news in Houston, Knowles-Lawson said this about the album:
“It could be about anyone’s marriage…I think that everybody at one time or another has been betrayed and lied to and it’s about the pain—and it’s about the healing process—and it’s about how do you get past that and move on.”
So there you have it. The family is still rather tight-lipped about what people really want to know (did Jay-Z cheat or nah). But Knowles-Lawson does suggest the content came from a real place; she even references how her daughters helped her out of a “pity party” during her own divorce (from Matthew Knowles, who was also allegedly unfaithful).
“People make it all about the cheating and betrayal and, yes, that’s a part of it because that is something you have to heal from,” continued Knowles-Lawson. “If you really listen to the poetry it is one of hope and redemption and hopefully that can be healing for people.”
So if you like many, many others were caught up in the more pointed and resentful lyrics of “Lemonade,” then you may have missed what Knowles-Lawson suggests is the album’s true intention. Drawing on poetry written by world-renown poet Warsan Shire and combining it with powerful lyrics written by Beyoncé and other co-creators, the Queen Bey showed us how to do the work when you’re trying to get through relationship problems. All relationships go through stages that include painful rupture. And, if they’re gonna last, couples need to know how to repair and reconcile. Beyoncé showed us that to get to healing, you have to be willing to be real, get raw and most importantly, get honest about your rage.
The songs in Lemonade show that you can heal, and through Beyoncé’s vocals, we get to bear witness to the pain and power of this process. Let’s look at three lyrics from Lemonade that can heal your relationship.
1. All the loving I’ve been giving goes unnoticed
It’s just floating in the air, lookie there
Are you aware you’re my lifeline, are you tryna kill me
If I wasn’t me, would you still feel me?
Like on my worst day? Or am I not thirsty, enough?
These lyrics from the song “Love Drought” speak to the pain of feeling like you’re giving love to a partner who doesn’t value you because he doesn’t truly see you. Beyoncé sings about the self-doubt and insecurity that arises when you feel that your partner doesn’t love you unconditionally because he is more in love with the idea of you, instead of loving you on your “worst day.”
When your relationship is going through a season of drought, you can feel isolated and alone, even though you’re with someone. The only way to bring back the love is for each partner to see one other for who they are, beyond their roles and expectations and to love unconditionally.
2. When you hurt me, you hurt yourself / When you love me, you love yourself / Love God herself
In this song, “Don’t Hurt Yourself,” we meet Angry Beyoncé! She’s not interested in going through the motions anymore. Instead, she lets her lover see how much pain he is causing her through his lies. The song reminds us that anger is a God-given emotion, and we shouldn’t see it as a something negative. This is because it’s a secondary emotion. This means that anger is a response to a deeper issue like fear, or hurt or a sense of being violated. As we watch Beyoncé confront her husband about his dishonesty, we see that her anger gives her the courage to tell her husband the truth: Because they are “one flesh,” everything he does to her, affects him as well. She demands that he trade his selfishness for righteousness from now on by realizing that by loving his wife, he also loves himself and God!
Beyoncé teaches a powerful lesson here: Repressing your rage for the sake of keeping the peace won’t solve anything. Expressing your feelings—even the negative ones—will lead to healing.
3. We built sandcastles that washed away/
I made you cry when I walked away/
And although I promised that I couldn’t stay, baby/
Every promise don’t work out that way.
“Sandcastles,” takes us into the reconciliation process. We realize that the dreams the couple built together weren’t built on solid rock. They were built on sand that easily washed away when, as a result of their relationship problems, the wife promised she’d leave and never return. However, she’s now having second thoughts, because she sees her husband’s tears of repentance.
The tender act of her husband crying breathes hope into the relationship. We learn that through humility and forgiveness, a relationship can weather the storm and be rebuilt on a foundation that will last.
It’s true that all lyrics are open to interpretation, so it’s easy to take “Lemonade” at face value and spend all your time trying to figure out if it was based on a true story or just a marketing ploy Beyoncé used to sell more albums. But if we think it was only about Jay-Z, then we miss the real power of this project.
There’s a saying that if you heal a woman, you can heal the world. I think Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” was an album about healing ourselves and healing the world, and this lyric captures that sentiment: “If we’re gonna heal, let it be glorious.”
BMWK, what do you think? Is the album just about her personal marriage problems, or is there more to it?