There are many moments that call for the use of the phrase “when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade” but right now, Beyonce’s visual album, Lemonade appears to be topping the list as one of the most intense, alluring, and entertaining examples of situations that can result in the making of a huge bowl of strong-tasting lemonade. On April 23, Lemonade was released on HBO and Tidal, and the Beyhive along with the rest of the world, went berserk when they got a taste.
Lemonade is a tale of journeying through self-knowledge and healing, which women all over the world identify with, while addressing the complexities of the struggles of Black American women, with a direct focus on the struggles of the global icon herself. In this regard, the album is speculated to revolve around the marital troubles of Beyonce and her husband, Jay Z, who makes a cameo in the video for the track “Sandcastles.”
Numerous factors and individuals go to work on the superstar’s latest album, making it the highly sought-after consumable good that it is on the music and entertainment market presently. From Beyonce’s contextual use of spoken word poetry, diverse music styles and sounds and stimulating videos, to her employment of Black arts and culture as well as historical references, replete with celebrity and high-profile cameos. All of these were made possible with the women present throughout the album, representing the strength, power and love of Black women everywhere.
Beyonce’s ode to Black arts and culture were not, however, limited to infusions and translations of Black American history and the challenges facing the ‘still’ marginalised Black race in America today. The influence of African tribalism and cultural practices, which Beyonce ultimately celebrates, are also a prominent theme in Lemonade. In the album and its hour-long video, Beyonce is not just another Black woman with traceable African roots, but a woman who wants her audience to know that she understands and appreciates that her essence is drawn from an ancient and eternal pool of rich, cultural manifestations.
Below, some of the African influences in the internet-breaking visual album that might have been missed, or are simply worthy of reiteration, are highlighted.
African fabric, prints, and patterns.
In the videos for the tracks “Sorry”, “Daddy’s Little Girl”, “Love Drought”, and “Forward”, cultural extracts from the Yoruba tribe in West Africa significantly come together to create Beyonce’s costumes. In these videos, Beyonce dresses up in ankara and other African tribal costumes, thereby becoming indicative of her roots beyond the shores of America.
Body painting art
Also in the aforementioned videos, Beyonce is sporting African tribal body art. Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo, who is famous for using the female body to execute his body painting art magic, brings Beyonce’s essence, soul and destiny to the fore through “The Sacred Art of the Ori” – a spiritual Yoruba ritual.
Yoruba goddess, Oshun.
Another aspect of Yoruba culture and tradition which is making the rounds on social media is the symbolisation of Oshun, a water goddess who is also the goddess of beauty, love, and wrath amongst many other elements. Beyonce personifies Oshun in this video where she is dons a yellow dress and commences to deliver measured doses of destruction along with sinister smiles and ominous laughter.
Braids and afros
Braids and afros are no longer the reserve of Africans owing to the global spread of Black presence, but the manner in which they are styled on Beyonce and her cast in several videos on the album are undeniably completely African, even in modern times. “Sorry”, for example, sees Beyonce’s dancers wear such hairstyles in the bus scene, and towards the end of the same video Beyonce’s hair is styled after the ancient Egyptian Queen, Nefertiti.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself” features a scene in which Beyonce is dressed as a voodoo priestess dancing in a ring of fire. In “Sorry”, the bus ride is actually symbolic for a spiritual transition to the afterlife which Beyonce and her cast make. Other rituals including water baptism and cleansing are also a recurring theme as seen in “Sandcastles.”
Although Beyonce’s fashion taste is something that has come to be part and parcel of any of her work, her fashion choices and statements continue to evolve. Lemonade showcases this constant fashion evolution in a somewhat distinctly African atmosphere, largely characterised by the fabrics, jewelry, embroideries and patterns of the clothes worn in the videos.
The hit track “Formation” which does not feature on the visual album but is already a crowd-favourite and chart-topper is ruled by African-inspired fashion and African fashion designers such as Loza Maleombho.
A core artistic foundation on which Lemonade stood is, unarguably, the spoken-word poetry interludes that carried the video transitions. Somali poet Warsan Shire served as the African influence in this aspect, as her poems were adapted in every single one of the interludes on the album.
Beyonce’s latest artistic revelation #Lemonade may have everyone drinking up without a lot of questions, but one of the most amazing things about the visual album to Black people in America, Africa and other parts of the world which is trending amongst African culture lovers is the gloriously apt manner in which Beyonce depicts and symbolises her ancestral heritage.
Source – ventures