In the furor surrounding the unexpected release over the weekend of Beyonce’s “visual album” Lemonade, the general attitude toward Queen Bey’s newest creation is surprise, exuberance, and unadulterated glee. Much of the groundbreaking project, which the mega-artist somehow recorded and filmed in secret over the course of a year, breaks new musical ground, not only in terms of the swaggering tone and anger in Beyonce’s voice, but in terms of samples and influences. This is a courageous album in more ways than one. The liner notes from her striking single, “Hold Up”—a song that appears to call out her famous husband, Jay-Z, for infidelity—credit a host of contributors, including lyrics by the front man of Vampire Weekend, inspiration from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’s 2003 single, “Maps,” and samples from a smooth ballad performed by Andy Williams in 1963 called “Can’t Get Used to Losing You.” The jaunty beat comes from writer Doc Pomus and Williams, but the fierceness is 100% Beyonce’s.
Read more of Max Gray at Big City Sasquatch or follow him on Twitter @City_Sasquatch. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Encounters, Mount Hope, Conte, tNY.press, and English Kills Review. He co-hosts the etymology podcast Words For Dinner and is a graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program.