At any given time, there are a few artists who transcend their fanbases and make news with their every move. It doesn’t matter if you’re a member of the Beyhive yourself; you’re going to be hearing about Beyoncé today. Here’s what you need to know about the Saturday night moment that put Bey in the headlines once again.
What happened: Beyoncé dropped her sixth album. It debuted in the middle of her hour-long special on HBO.
The album name: “Lemonade.” It might be a reference to the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” From the lyrics, it’s clear that life handed Queen B some citrus lately.
The details: The album consists of 11 new songs plus “Formation,” the song released just before Beyoncé played the Superbowl this year. The HBO special is a visual accompaniment to the songs, but it’s not just a bunch of music videos strung together like a slow day on VH1. Beyoncé mixes in stunning special effects, poetry and themed titles such as “Anger,” “Loss” and “Accountability.”
Where to hear it: Tidal. That’s the music-streaming service developed by Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z. According to the Verge, “Lemonade” will be streamed exclusively on Tidal for the foreseeable future, which means you will have to sign up for the subscription-based service to listen. Earlier this year, Kanye West’s album “The Life of Pablo” also debuted on Tidal, then later appeared on Spotify and Apple Music. It’s unclear whether the same future will meet “Lemonade,” though “the album is expected to be released for sale on iTunes at midnight on Sunday,” the New York Times reported.
What everyone’s talking about: Did Jay Z cheat? The HBO special begins with Beyoncé alone on a stage, kneeling in front of a red curtain. Her first lyric is “You can taste the dishonesty, it’s all over your breath.” Soon after, we hear a poem about how the women in her family seem cursed with men who come home at 3 a.m. We know Beyoncé’s father cheated on her mother, Tina Knowles, so it’s possible she’s singing through her mother’s eyes. But the theme of cheating and dishonesty lasts almost the entire album, and lyrics like this — “This is your final warning / You know I give you life / If you try this [expletive] again you gon’ lose your wife” — have fans wondering.
So I guess Jay Z has 100 problems now
— Raspbobby Beret (@BobbyBigWheel) April 24, 2016
Jay Z. Smdh. You wrong. No more red lobster for you.
— roxane gay (@rgay) April 24, 2016
— Tracy Clayton (@brokeymcpoverty) April 24, 2016
Did you see…: Tennis goddess Serena Williams? Disney star Zendaya? Jay Z’s grandmother? The visual album was filled with cameos. Perhaps most moving were the appearances of the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner. Martin was 17 when he was killed by a Florida neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012; Brown and Garner were both killed by police in 2014. Their deaths have been among the most prominent in the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality and racial injustice. [Meet the up-and-comers Beyoncé deemed worthy of starring in her visual album]
The phrase to know: “Becky with the good hair.” After the song “Formation” was released in February, the lyrics “hot sauce in my bag / swag” and “Red Lobster” became cultural moments of their own. (Even Hillary Clinton admits to carrying hot sauce in her bag.) Now, “Lemonade” has its own moment. In the album’s fourth track, “Sorry,” Bey sings, “He only want me when I’m not there / He better call Becky with the good hair.” If the album really is about Jay Z cheating on his wife, it seems “Becky” is the woman he was cheating with. So who is Becky? Twitter sleuths are already on the hunt, and someone edited the Wikipedia page of a woman who was rumored to have started the infamous elevator fight between Jay Z and Solange Knowles, Beyoncé’s sister, in 2014. The entry was edited to say that the woman died “under a lemonade stand” on April 23, the day Beyonce’s album came out.
The image you won’t forget: Remember that time Beyoncé smashed through car windows and security cameras? That happened. You can watch the full HBO special here.