Beyoncé’s latest production is, in a word, overwhelming.
The visual album is complex, mind-boggling, and ethereal. The audio alone is a whole new experience. Tidal describes the album as: “a conceptual project based on every woman’s journey of self knowledge and healing.” Tumblr is joking that even all the single women are mad at their cheating nonexistent spouses or boyfriends just because Beyoncé is.
Lemonade was written with enough details and hints for us, the listener, to obsess over. And we’re doing just that. There are so many things to talk about with this album (I myself am currently in five separatedeep-dive text chains about WHAT THE HELL IT ALL MEANS), but we’re starting here, with the 19 most controversial lyrics we heard on the 12-track album. The album itself is a journey of denial, confrontation, and, ultimately, forgiveness.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. When Bey gives you Lemonade, make it your new soundtrack for life.
1. “You can taste the dishonesty / It’s all over your breath as you pass it off so cavalier.”—“Pray You Catch Me”
The first line of the album is introducing the whole “Jay-Z cheated on Beyoncé” idea. The line, paired with the track title, makes it sound like Jay-Z almost wanted to get caught for being so bold with his infidelity.
2. “What a wicked way to treat the girl that loves you” — “Hold Up”
This whole song is celebrating the “crazy ex-girlfriend” stereotype by having Bey, all smiles, completely terrorize a neighborhood block with her “hot sauce” baseball bat. The scene is also a reference to an art installation by Pipilotti Rist in 1997.
3. “Who the f*ck do you think I is? / You ain’t married to no average b*tch boy / You can watch my fat a** twist boy / As I bounce to the next d*ck boy / And keep your money, I got my own.” — “Don’t Hurt Yourself” feat. Jack White
She’s reminding Jay that she can easily bounce to the next man. She’s got the money, the confidence, and the power.
4. “Bad m*therfucker / God complex.” — “Don’t Hurt Yourself” feat. Jack White
That’s, for sure, a direct callout to Jay-Z, also known as H.O.V.A. He calls himself a rap god.
5. “Blindly in love, I f*cks with you / ‘Til I realize, I’m just too much for you.” — “Don’t Hurt Yourself” feat. Jack White
Bey is 2 good 4 u Jay.
6. “Me and my ladies sip my D’USSE cup / I don’t give a f*ck, chucking my deuce.” —“Sorry”
Bey is drinking her man’s drink, (he promoted a brand of Cognac called D’Usse) and calling out his lines (he rapped “Chuck the deuces, chugging D’usse” in one of their songs together) proving that anything he can do, she can do better.
7. “Looking at my watch, he shoulda been home / Today I regret the night I put that ring on.” — “Sorry”
Remember this? Same ring.
8. “Me and my baby, we gon’ be alright / We gon’ live a good life / Big homie better grow up.” — “Sorry”
Jay, in addition to a rap god, has called himself “Big Homie” in songs before, too. Another direct reference to her husband.
9. “He better call Becky with the good hair.” — “Sorry”
Becky is a slang term used to refer to white women with straight hair, so essentially a basic b*tch. Here’s a song about it: “Becky.”
10. “And daddy liked his whisky with his tea”— “Daddy Lessons”
The implications have gone past just Jay’s bad behavior, and onto her father’s, or just fathers in general.
11. “Daddy made me right / It wasn’t always right / But he said girl it’s your second amendment, oh, oh, oh.” — “Daddy Lessons”
The Second Amendment allusion is referencing Beyoncé’s own thoughts about gun violence and gun control.
12. “(Good job Bey, hahaha)” — “Daddy Lessons”
Blue Ivy’s voiceover makes this song eerily personal. It sounds like Bey is saying that she would make a better parent than Jay, and is really comparing him to her own father.
13. “If I wasn’t me, would you still feel me? / Like on my worst day? Or am I not thirsty enough?” — “Love Drought”
Being thirsty is never a good thing.
14. “You and me would stop this love drought.” — “Love Drought”
Bey’s pissed, but saying there’s hope to get out of the drought.
15. “We built sand castles that washed away / I made you cry when I walked away”— “Sandcastles”
Comparing their relationship to a sandcastle, though, is implying that it may not be meant to last, and can easily be washed out to sea and scattered. Although, like their marriage, a sandcastle can be rebuilt. This beach callout could also be referring to this famous duet from the power couple.
16. “It’s time to listen, it’s time to fight.” — “Forward” feat. James Blake
This short, but powerful song is a segue to the main message in the following track,”Freedom.” It’s a call for action.
17. “Tryna rain, tryna rain on the thunder / Tell the storm I’m new / I’m a wall, come and march on regular / Painting white flags blue.” — “Freedom” feat. Kendrick Lamar
This song is full of references to the Black Lives Matter movement, as well as just bringing attention to the past, present, and potentially future victims of police brutality. Bey is ready to be on the forefront of the fight against racism, and she’s ready to bring the thunder.
18. “How I missed you, my love” — “All Night”
In the end, Bey does indicate that she will stay with Jay-Z. Even after all that previous girl-power talk, she remembers what they were like together at their best, and that’s enough for her to continue working on the relationship with him.
19. “I twirl on them haters, albino alligators”— “Formation”
An albino alligator is a nickname for a white guy’s private parts, so she is saying she is dodging her haters, and all the white dudes that may be trying to mess with her formation.
Now, on to wondering how all the puzzle pieces go together. The things you make us do, Bey.