“Everyone is talking about” Beyoncé’s “Lemonade,” the Washington Post tells us, which was released even as her hour-long HBO music video of the same name was awing fans, fellow artists and celebrities alike on HBO Saturday night. But they could only hear it if they subscribed to Tidal, the music-streaming service developed by her husband, JayZ. That was to be for “foreseeable future,” Jessica Contrera informs us, but time moves fast in Beyoncé’s world. The “visual album” is on iTunes this morning.
“The brief window of exclusivity for Tidal reflects the growing complexity and fragmentationof the digital music market,” writes the New York Times Ben Sisario in breaking the news yesterday that the album would soon be in Apple’s music store.
“As a partner in Tidal — the service that her husband, Jay Z, bought just over a year ago for $56 million and reintroduced as an artist-friendly alternative to Spotify — Beyoncé faced a strong incentive to release the album exclusively through that outlet, to draw attention to the service and attract subscribers to it,’ he explains. “Yet with Tidal claiming just three million subscribers, she would risk alienating the vast majority of the online market if she were to keep the album on that service alone for too long.”
The album notably takes on JayZ directly for his dalliance — or so the gossip is — with fashion designer Rachel Roy.
“On the track ‘Anger,’ she stalks about a parking lot screaming, ‘If you try this shit again, you’re gon’ lose your wife,’ before spiking her wedding ring at the camera, and in ‘Apathy,’ she starts things off with a mock eulogy for her marriage (‘Ashes to ashes, dust to side chicks’), before dropping a cryptic clue as to the identity of the other woman: ‘He better call Becky with the good hair,’” writes Marlow Stern in recounting the whole history of JayZ’ wandering eye for the Daily Beast.
But Beyoncé takes on much larger and broader issues, too.
“Beyoncé couldn't have produced a body of work this defiant, or blunt, two years ago. ‘Lemonade’ has been made possible by the cultural, social and political upheaval we're in the midst of, triggered by the deaths of boys and fathers and women, who will never be forgotten,” says NPR’s Kiana Fitzgerald.
“We've all been changed by these events. Beyoncé may be a machine, but she's changed, too. And so has Serena Williams, actress Amandla Stenberg, literary-giant-in-the-making Warsan Shire, and the other figures featured front and center in the visual version of the album — from the women who look like my mom and my aunties and my cousins, to those carrying the grief of a nation: The mothers of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Mike Brown.”
The work of Somali-British Shire, who was named the first Young Poet Laureate of London in 2014 at age 25, is featured in the album, Annalisa Merelli reports for Quartz.
“It’ll take a while to absorb everything that Beyoncé has poured into her sixth studio album — a dozen songs plus a 60-minute movie that is more than just a mere advertisement for the music, but an essential companion that provides context and deepens understanding,” Greg Kot writes for the Chicago Tribune. “But it’s apparent already that ‘Lemonade’ is the artist’s most accomplished and cohesive work yet, and that’s not meant to underestimate the impact of a discography that has yielded era-defining singles such as ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Irreplaceable.’
USA Today’s Maeve McDermott and Patrick Ryan, after “collecting our emotions … listened (and listened again, and again), for some instant reactions to her most grown-up record yet.” You can read the run-down on their takes for each song here.
“It would be insufficient to describe ‘Lemonade,’ which aired on HBO, without much preceding fanfare, as an album. The project is also a piece of spoken word, a narrative film, a map of cultural reference points, and a window into the soul of an icon whose inner life has always seemed just out of reach,” writes Carrie Battan for the New Yorker.
And if all that weren’t enough, she apparently has some actionable tax advice, too.