Since its release just over a week ago, Beyoncé’s Lemonade has been hailed as an incisive piece of social commentary touching on love, marriage, and infidelity, race, power and oppression, a testament to the strength and resilience of women.
Millions of fans have memorized the intensely personal lyrics. Countless critics have analyzed the album and accompanying film for hidden meanings, searching for clues about Beyoncé and her husband’s private life.
One of the things that makes Lemonade such a compelling experience is that listeners feel as if an intensely private superstar is putting her real business out there, on the record. We all know that Jay and B are a real husband and wife who go through their own issues as any marriage must. They are also a superstar power couple whose combined net worth has been estimated at over a billion dollars, so they obviously know a thing or two about playing the press and marketing music.
Still, when we see Beyoncé smashing cars with a baseball bat while singing about her man’s infidelity in the video for “Hold Up,” or when she calls out someone named “Becky with the good hair” at the end of “Sorry,” it’s hard not to wonder how real her sentiments are.
Immediately after Lemonade’s release, social media was set ablaze as members of Beyoncé’s BeyHive tried to figure out who Becky really was. As you probably know by now, the turmoil known as Beckygate dragged up speculations about Jay Z’s supposed affair with Rachel Roy, the ex-wife of his former business partner Damon Dash. Roy has been rumored to be the cause of the infamous elevator fight between Jay and Solange Knowles.
You’ve read all about the incriminating IG posts, the tweets and counter-tweets, but chances are that the true identity of “Becky with the good hair” will never be revealed. (For the record, “Becky” is also a slang term for basic white girls—and for oral sex.) Arguably more important than identifying Becky, however, is understanding the true significance of the term “good hair.”
It’s hard to overstate the importance of hair within this visual album. The cover art doesn’t even show Beyoncé’s face; we see only her hair—thick rows of braids woven tight, like armor. In the opening moments of the film, she covers her locks with a hoodie. In the final shots, during the “Formation” video, her black hat obscures her features as two long braids hang down.
The film itself contains a vast collection of natural black hairstyles. Taking a closer listen to—and look at—Lemonade from this perspective, it becomes clear that one of the most important themes running throughout the album is hair: the huge emotional power and personal significance that hair holds for all women, and specifically for black women.
The psychological and social issues surrounding the idea of “good hair” are deeply rooted in the African-American experience. The term itself is a racially skewed value judgment handed down from slavery days implying that natural African-textured hair is “bad.”
Full article written by Reshma B on Pigeons & Planes