On April 23, 2016 with the release of a full-length cinematic HBO special featuring beautiful artistic visuals, spoken word interludes and songs from her 12-track Lemonade album, Beyoncé, and her Louisville slugger, broke the internet, smashed the charts and sent the hive into a fury.
Yonce is known for pulling these types of stunts, but this time was different.
More than just an airtight production with impeccable vocals and perfect execution, the visual album was an unapologetic affirmation of blackness and womanness. It was an ode to us that came at precisely the right time. Lemonade was just what we needed, and still need a year later.
Set against the backdrop of a polarizing presidential campaign season, a resurgence of unapologetically misogynistic politics, and a revival of overt racism and brutality imposed upon black bodies, the album spoke to the shift that was simultaneously unfolding in society at large. With the release of Lemonade, Beyoncé took a decisive turn from the glamorous, flawless image we had come to expect from her. With themes around black identity, infidelity, sisterhood and faith, Lemonade spoke to the complexities of what it means to be woman, and black, and black women in defense of black men, who sometimes betray us.
Beyond its powerful social impact, for me, Lemonade represented a coming of age, a transitioning, a reconciliation between the girlish hopefulness of my teens, and the carefree disregard of my early twenties. I belong to a generation of black women who transitioned into adulthood Bey adjacent. We mimicked the dance moves to "Say My Name" in our dorm rooms, and made "Bug-A-Boo" the universal anthem for our late teenage woes. Beyoncé's catalogue was the soundtrack as we tried on our feminism, intoxicated ourselves with love and learned the kinds of hard earned lessons that only life can teach.
We're adults now, women in our thirties, occupying the roles of daughter, partner, mother and full-grown woman, and none of it feels the way it looked from a distance. Having experienced the depths of betrayal, apathy, hope and reconciliation, we are more layered, more transparent and more interesting than ever before. Our realities have exceeded our expectations in some places, and fallen short in others. If we're being honest, we'll admit that the journey into womanhood has left us a little bitter, but still sweet, kind of like...Lemonade