The message which is both ancient and relevant is that rebirth for the Black woman happens through deeply understanding our divine connection to our mothers, sisters, daughters and selves. Shire's words ring strong as Beyoncé and the women she stands with are baptized: "If we're gonna heal, let it be glorious. 1,000 girls raise their arms. Do you remember being born? Are you thankful for the hips that cracked? The deep velvet of your mother and her mother and her mother? There is a curse that will be broken." This is a reminder that Black women are nation-builders who can move any mountain, even the ones inside of ourselves, when we put our narratives at the center of our healing spaces.
And with the album's clear emphasis on self-determination and personal growth, "Lemonade" may be the perfect album for bolstering ourselves during these COVID days. For Beyoncé, the album's central theme found its roots in the words of her husband Jay-Z's grandmother Hattie White, who once remarked that "I had my ups and downs, but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up. I was served lemons, but I made lemonade."
While unfaithfulness may seem like a difficult leap to the ills of our pandemic present, Beyoncé's buttressing of her sense of self across the album's contents is palpable at every turn. As we continue to troll the mysterious waters of COVID-19, there's little doubt that we'll need to be steeling ourselves for the unprecedented changes in our lives that are yet to come.
When it comes to an anthem for our troubled times, look no further than "Formation," Lemonade's beating heart. For Beyoncé, "Formation" acts as a powerful rallying cry on behalf of black positivity, as a means for exploding the boundaries that hold us back. While "Formation" makes vital inroads into intercultural understanding, its inherent call-to-action is widely applicable regardless of issues of class and ethnicity. If nothing else, the song reminds us that there is no time like the present to gird ourselves for whatever comes next.
In an on-air report for All Things Considered, NPR's Mandalit del Barco highlights reactions to the video, including thoughts from filmmaker and writer dream hampton. (hampton has a long-standing professional relationship with Beyonce's husband, Jay Z.) Below is an edited transcript of their full conversation, where hampton gives context to the images and timing of "Formation." "It's about a black future [where] we are imagining ourselves having power and magic," she says, "and I think it's beautiful."
I think it was incredibly powerful. I think it was also a nod to Tamir Rice, you know. It's about a black visionary, a black future [where] we are imagining ourselves having power, and magic. And I think it's beautiful.
We really wanted to spend time, immerse ourselves, drive for hours and hours aimlessly with a camera, jumping out and shooting things that caught my eye. We didn't want to go there and just shoot Frenchy's Chicken and call it an "authentic video." There was tons of hanging out, getting the feel, all with cameras ready. We hooked up with our dude Scotty who was a great help, plus Bun B's brother Truck, and Paul Wall. The city was so receptive, so willing to help, so open, and that leant a lot to the fact that we really got to glimpse of the real character of Houston.
For all those out there still confused by youth slang, to "feel" something is to like or be interested in it. Thus, the title "feeling myself" is an obvious reference to being your biggest fan first. After all, I can be feelin' a boy, I can be feelin' a song, or I can be feelin' a pop star, but do any of us spend enough time feelin' ourselves? 2b1af7f3a8