Pop superstar Beyoncé’s sixth studio album, Lemonade, was released Saturday on her and husband Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal — as well as in the form of a full-length visual presentation on HBO. The 12 song offering is a 45 minute medley of themes that include black nationalist feminism, infidelity, and, of course, love.
The HBO special opens with an incensed, baseball bat-wielding Beyoncé retaliating against an unfaithful lover. The singer is seen dancing through the streets of New Orleans smashing car windows, driving a monster truck over a row of rusted cars, and taking a bat to a New Orleans Police Department surveillance camera. Roger Friedman of Showbiz 411 isolates that music video, for the song “Hold Up,” noting the lyrics “I’m gonna f*** me up a bitch.”
Lemonade is rife with references to racial politics. The film features the mothers of Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, two black men whose deaths were used to launched the anti-police Black Lives Matter movement.
At one point in the short film, the voice of slain Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X is heard saying: “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.”
Beyoncé’s Lemonade comes four months after her racially-charged Super Bowl halftime performance, in which the pop star performed the song “Formation” alongside a slew of backup dancers dressed in Black Panthers paraphernalia. Beyoncé led her band of backup dancers to form an X in the middle of Levi’s Stadium in honor of Malcolm X.
Beyoncé’s Super Bowl perfomance was seen as an “outrageous attack” on “police officers, who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive,” said former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Saturday’s release of the visual adaptation of Lemonade coincided with its audio release on streaming music service Tidal, which recently announced that it will donate $1.5 million to Black Lives Matter and other political pressure groups.
The 34-year-old singer is also set to launch the Formation World Tour, which begins April 27 in Miami.