Azealia Banks’ critique of the album brings a bigger issue into light: are we really to discredit someone’s past just because it’s stereotypically outplayed? Our generation has become one that critiques everything to a point where someone’s past loses validation simply because it is the “broken record” of women of color. I understand that as millennials we have an itch to grow, to evolve, to see everything and anything as equal — to break from the chains of the narratives that have been set in place for us, but we cannot ignore that these stories still exist and will probably continue to exists for years to come.
We also have to recognize that this is not the only narrative that exists for females of color — that of a broken home, abusive father, and unfaithful men. But we cannot ignore that this still happens today and that it is the result of a much bigger system out of Queen B’s control. A system that although bases itself on politics and economics, creates the culture by which its victims live. I see Azealia’s critique of the album as unfair because it was a personal album for Beyoncé, and should be respected as a story of the past that has made her the strong woman she is today.
Talking to a few people around campus, I have heard it mentioned that if Beyoncé were really as strong as I believe her to be, she would have been able to leave Jay-Z years ago. I think that being brave enough to trust him again and forgive him is stronger that anything I would be able to do. Some have also said that she could have focused on other aspects of her life, agreeing with Azealia’s critique that the album further perpetuates stereotypes. Beyoncé could have easily included other aspects of her life, but her family ties and long relationship to Jay-Z have a clear place in her heart. I don’t think she could have banged out 12 songs and a visual album if it didn’t, and we shouldn’t take that away from her art by saying that it is antifeminist, outplayed and outdated. Living and speaking by ‘what-ifs’ is neither productive nor useful.
This album was not made for us, and it is a matter of respect from us as an audience to be let into her personal corner of insecurities, one that might have grown smaller and smaller while she was writing these songs. At least I like to believe that’s how it went.
The fact of the matter is that Beyoncé’s LEMONADE has a significant cultural undertone that a lot of people have overlooked or masked by focusing on other things, like Becky. Beyoncé’s new album is a call to action for all women of color to break away from the narrative that has slowly bound us together to a point of asphyxiation; it is a way of showing that we can embrace our dysfunctional realities while at the same time being able to break free from them. A “yin and yang” of sorts, where we take what society has fostered our lives to become and how we take that story and make it our own, and how we grow from our histories.