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Beyoncé can’t make being a black woman popular. Despite being arguably the world’s biggest musician, she can only hope that people look beyond her race rather than celebrate her blackness and other black women like her. This was made apparent when her video for “Formation” dropped: here was this empowering, unabashedly Southern song with a video that celebrated and reveled in being Black, being a woman and being “country” and it was met with critiques of not being inclusive enough or daring to throw a political statement of pride in one’s race in people’s faces. Beyoncé had committed the sin of reminding anyone who hadn’t been paying attention that she was indeed a Black woman from Texas.

About fifteen minutes into “Lemonade”, Beyoncé’s HBO-helmed visual album, there’s an excerpt from Malcolm X in which he states that, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman”. The excerpt comes in as a reminder of the Black woman’s burden of having to live in a world that would rather do without them. They are the neglected wives, the unwanted children and the mothers that have been taken for granted by lovers, brothers, fathers, children, employers and elected officials and Beyonce has used this moment to give their pain voice.

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On its surface, “Lemonade” feels like the deeply personal story of betrayal, heartbreak and anger that has replaced a once-loving relationship. Throughout, you feel like you’re invading her privacy by being an audience member to this show; going from bug-eyed wonder about the juicy details of the tawdry affair Beyoncé keeps teasing about in each song to genuine concern for Jay Z’s safety as you watch his wife gleefully stroll along the sidewalk, twirling a baseball bat or walk slowly while a room is engulfed in flames behind her.

Step back for a second and you begin to realize that this is not just about Beyoncé but it’s about every Black woman. It’s about those mothers, sisters, daughters, grandmothers and aunties; these are all their personal stories that they share amongst themselves out of earshot of the men who’ve either caused the pain or shown no inclination of caring about it. Her lyrics interspersed between the poetry of Warsan Shire with the stark, lingering images of black women in the Louisiana bayou–at once stoic, at other times fiery–make for a haunting, unshakeable Southern Gothic tale of the Black woman’s burden in not just America but the world.

Since the out-of-nowhere release of her 2013 self-titled album, Beyoncé has been re-energized  –not just in methods of creating an event out of the growing irrelevance of album releases, but in subject matter. Where self-titled was an incredibly sexual and liberating expression of love, “Lemonade” is on the opposite spectrum: a claustrophobic, relentless testimony of a woman scorned. However you might have thought this event was going to go, you probably anticipated something more vapid; more congratulatory of the celebrity of Bey. Instead you got a deeply Southern, specifically black, Toni Morrison story with some great songs attached. Maybe it was the sequence in which Beyoncé was drowning underwater or the images of Louisianians interspersed throughout or the moving sequence of mothers of slain children (including the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown), but at some point this movie hit you in a way you weren’t prepared for. At some point you had to reckon with the things we’ve done to Black woman and the ways we’ve made their lives harder.

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Last night the 49ers and the Ravens played each other in a dramatic game that came down to the wire. In the end the Ravens prevailed, Ray Lewis retired on a high note, Joe Flacco will be the elite convo, Colin Kapernick will have his chance again and the game will be remembered was one of the all time greats. Whatever. Here’s a bunch of Beyonce gifs from last night.

 

There are people who love her and people who REALLY love her; there are also people who hate her and people who REALLY hate her. Both extremes are silly. However, I will say this: She’s the greatest PERFORMER of OUR generation (we can talk about “of all time” or “alive” later) and you got to give her her credit. She doesn’t have the range or the vocal chops of Whitney and others, she isn’t MJ or even James Brown, but she is electrifying. The most worthwhile negative opinion of her is that she doesn’t come off as human but instead as a brand, a robot or a cyborg. Fair enough, but in a world where we have twitter, instagram, facebook, tumblr, comment sections on websites, personal blogs and the aftermath of spending 8 years with a president we all “wanted to get a beer with”, let me be the first to say that being human is overrated and last night Beyonce proved why robots are still cooler.

It’s been raining all weekend. Which means, I’ve been listening to R&B all weekend. From the old to the new, I’ve been blasting the best harmonies, rhythms and just feel-good vibes into my ears through this dreary chill-fest happening everyday for the past 3 days. For the sake of this excerpt, I’ll stick to just talking about the new music:

Solange “Losing You” 

Everyone told me this was good, so naturally I went in highly skeptical—arms crossed and all. I’m currently on my 15th listen (seriously, this song is so good). I’ve always liked Solange for the simple fact that she never tried to be her sister; she’s always tried to have her own style. Well damn it if her style isn’t mine as well, the song is just fun, infectious and makes you want to dance around while the video, despite treading the boundaries of some manic pixie dream girl-level quirk, is just so addictive to watch over and over again. This is easily my song of the moment.

Rihanna & Beyonce

I think I gained a whole new appreciation for these two over the weekend; they’ve easily made some of the best music over the years that they’ve been on top. Rihanna making the marriage between electronic/dance music and pop look better than anyone else has been able to and Queen B does what she does best: make music that lasts lifetimes—I mean between songs like “countdown”, “dance for you”, “naughty girl”, “single ladies” and “irreplaceable”, she can go from singlehandedly saving your relationship to ending it in seconds. (That’s a skill.)

Miguel “Kaleidoscope Dream”

Miguel’s sophomore album, Kaleidoscope Dream, debuted this past week and—as a fan of true R&B music—I have to hand it to the guy, he made a great record. It’s definitely one that will be in rotation for a while with me. While I found his first release to be decent, I only enjoyed it in a guilty pleasure sense. I’m happy to say that this time around I can admit to liking the album with no shame, it’s that enjoyable.

Wiz Khalifa ft. The Weeknd “Remember You”

Ok technically, this is Wiz’s song but we all know who the star was in this case. R&B crooner/drug enthusiast Abel Tesfaye—better known as the Weeknd—makes this song as infectious as it is and reminds us just how good he can be. We haven’t heard to much from the young artist since he wrapped up the trilogy earlier this year so this was a nice little present for the fans. Not to say Wiz doesn’t do his part to help the song (he does), but I mean come on man, the Weeknd steals this one.

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