Prince's recent death, and the outpour of reverence, reminds us that pop culture is nothing without the contribution of black artists. And Beyoncé's hour-long magnum opus Lemonade, now available to stream on Tidal and purchase on iTunes, assures us that someone's still carrying the torch.
Lemonade is a beacon of stardom. Beyoncé isn't just the most fascinating pop star in the game, she’s an icon, a successor to legends like Nina Simone, James Baldwin, and Josephine Baker. There's nothing Lemonade doesn't do; the music weaves together R&B, blues, country, and even rock sounds. Surprise collaborations -- with Kendrick Lamar, Jack White, Diplo, James Blake, and Father John Misty, to name a few -- are matched by samples, including snippets of a Malcolm X speech. Mark Romanek (Never Let Me Go), Kahlil Joseph (Arcade Fire's Reflektor Tapes), and longtime collaborator Melina Matsoukas carve out the visuals. For an artist as private as Beyoncé, Lemonade feels incredibly personal.
Still, viewing it through gossip or buzz doesn't do it justice. Lemonade deserves a close analysis -- so we gave it one: