When Beyoncé’s Lemonade come out, there was hype like you won’t believe. Hype that shook the internet and world in a sense. Probably the most coveted woman in the world was being cheated on.
I mean, really. If Beyoncé, the Beyoncé, all time megastar, hot body, highly ambitious, super talented, dancing in high heels and revealing outfits can be cheated on, then who am I, a little nobody in the Motherland, struggling writer that I am, petite and very much new to the world of love, dating, betrayal and all that jazz?
If she could get cheated on, then there was no chance for the rest of us.
Her album spoke to the plight of many a black, married and we’re-together-but-not-officially, still-waiting-for-the-ring, there’s-no-way-I’m-leaving-all-this-hard-work-for-someone-else-to-enjoy woman: having to deal with loving someone who treats you in the worst way: cheating on you. You can’t disengage yourself from them because you love them. Your love for them may at times be stronger than your love for yourself.
Why do we stay? Because we love them. Because we’re scared of the stigma that’s associated with a “divorced” woman. Because we’re scared of not having protection from a man in a man’s world. Because we need to stay for the kids. Because this, because that.
Bottom line, Beyoncé stayed and with it she must bear the consequences, be it STIs, loss of sleep at night, the whole world laughing at, criticising and snickering about her marital status. But she’s done it like a champ. Good for her.
I’m not a feminist. But I do believe women need to be treated fairly and equally, equal pay, respect and all that. So when Beyoncé dropped her album but still stayed with her cheating man, I couldn’t fathom it. She’s supposed to be about that feminist life but she stayed? Why?
I don’t know, you don’t know. We may never know. This is between her, her hubby and God. It’s none of our business. But wait, it is, because they both put it out there for us to eat up. It’s human nature to question each other’s actions, right?
But listening to Jay’s side of the story made it crystal clear. His 4:44 made me cry. Literally. As I listened to it, something profound hit me: sorry is what we want. Sorry is what we as black women require from our black men. We need them to say sorry and mean it. We need them to acknowledge, maybe even feel the pain we feel on a daily basis because of the hurt they inflict on us so nonchalantly.
That’s what Beyoncé was trying to achieve with Lemonade. She wanted her man to know that even though she stayed, it was at a cost to her, and ultimately to Jay, whether or not he acknowledged it.
Thanks to Family Feud, Legacy and of course 4:44, I think Jay got it. This album has gotten critical acclaim and a lot of other stuff.
Why’s it such a hit? From my personal view point, I think it’s for the arguable reason that Jay is the first “real you-know-what” to speak about his infidelity, first one to ADMIT to it, say sorry and make amends. Yes, many others have said it, (Usher is the first with Confessions, might I add) but it’s Jay-Z. Whatever he says carries more weight than the average artist.
The Story of O.J. perfectly illustrates that. No matter what kind of black person you are, fake, real, rich, poor, you’re still a black person. Him stating that universal truth made people reel in their seats. Really now? Like you didn’t know that just because you’re in the White House or the richest couple in the world doesn’t remove your blackness.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z are both artists. They use music to make money, yes, but also as a cathartic process. Beyoncé’s Lemonade did for Beyoncé what 4:44 did for Jay-Z.
Ish hit the fan. Yes, it was very messy and probably going to take forever to build up. But now they can move on. Start on a clean slate, build a proper marriage based on truth, honesty and open communication. They (for the most part) no longer have extra forces pushing them to their limits, outside forces trying to break them or influence their decisions.
The two albums complement each other in a way only someone who’s been in a long-term relationship with another can explain.
Love to me is still a foreign concept. I’ve never been in love so I can never fully understand what it must feel like for one to be a woman who loves a man enough (or too much) to be able to put up with all his nonsense when “I’m just saying you could do better.”
Beyoncé got her redemption in the same way #HurtBae got her redemption. What’s more, with the latter, she got someone who’s better for her. She was strong enough to leave the raggedy fella who did her dirty in order to be able to let in someone who deserved her in all her awesomeness.
Beyoncé staying doesn’t make her less of a woman; no. It just makes her a woman who knows and understands the price of staying and being strong enough to bear the brunt of this decision.
As Jay-Z says in Kill Jay-Z, he owes us the truth. But does he? Maybe not but his truth set a lot of us free. It set me free because even though I haven’t loved like Beyoncé and millions of others, I understand how important it is for someone to acknowledge how they’ve hurt you and for them to make a concerted effort to right the wrong. Even if it means them being made a fool of in front of the entire world.
I close off this post with Gloria Carter’s powerful words in Smile:
Living in the shadow
Can you imagine what kind of life it is to live?
In the shadows people see you as happy and free
Because that's what you want them to see
Living two lives, happy, but not free
You live in the shadows for fear of someone hurting your family or the person you love
The world is changing and they say it's time to be free
But you live with the fear of just being me
Living in the shadow feels like the safe place to be
No harm for them, no harm for me
But life is short, and it's time to be free
Love who you love, because life isn't guaranteed