Love this piece and so am sharing… In the fewer than seven days that have elapsed since the release of Beyoncé’s already-legendary ode to Black womanhood, by way of the visual album Lemonade, the meme-loving world has set their sights on clowning her husband Jay Z, while others are skewering him as a philanderer, cheating on the Queen Bey herself.
What is going on here? Jay and Bey are the King and Queen, respectively, of the well-manicured, highly and tightly controlled media image. Beyoncé has filmed now multiple surprise videos and albums in cities across the globe (as a former corporate lawyer, I must admit that I would love to take a gander at her non-disclosure agreements). Hell, they got married in the middle of New York City and no one caught wind of the pending nuptials until the day of. I mean, yeah, there was that one time in the elevator after the Met Gala caught on hidden camera, but that was neither Bey nor Jay, that was Bey’s baby sister, Solange, wildin’ out. And neither publicly addressed the altercation or its cause. Until now…possibly.
Why would they consciously air their “dirty laundry” on screen for the salacious-rumor-loving, meme-creating, 24-hour news-cycle-watching, social media consuming, hairpin-TwitterFinger-tweeting public to devour and spit back out into their faces? And why the hell would the King of Bed Stuy’s Marcy Projects, a bad mother-shut-yo-mouf rapping, swagalicious, mogul like Jay Z allow himself to have his improprieties displayed, dissected, rebutted, rebuffed and exposed not by an enemy but by his wife?
Why can’t you see me? Everyone else can
Lemonade debuted Saturday night. I chose to pay homage to our recently lost Prince Nelson Rogers, by going to see Purple Rain at a theater here in Miami, opting to watch, more like consume and absorb, Lemonade on Sunday.
Sunday I awoke to a text message from my cousin, a long-time fan of Jay, also from New York…and a guy: “So to be clear hov cheated on Bey? Is that what happened?” My first thought was, “Huh? What? Wow! What did Bey say/sing?”
If you’ve not yet seen or heard the album, it is a beautifully woven tapestry of experiences, exhibited through stunning visuals, incredible music and the gut-wrenching yet graceful poetry of Warsan shire. Lemonade is an unapologetic love letter that recounts the experiences of many a Black woman who have loved a man–be it father, lover, son–and lost them, whether by betrayal or the hand of another. The album unfolds as a journey from intuition of possible wrongdoing to confirmed betrayal to forgiveness and redemption.
As my sister For Harriet writer Diana Veiga says, “ Men are mostly absent on Lemonade. But they are there.” And the one man who is there front and center is Beyoncé’s husband, Jay Z.
Beyoncé is an artist. She may not send a subtextual tweet or respond to the myriad criticisms hurled her direction via a rebuttal press conference or media interview, but she’ll let you know how she feels, eventually. Just a sampling of exhibits A through, hell I’ve lost count, include: Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess, she likes her Negro’s nose with Jackson5 nostrils and her baby heir with baby hair and Afros. Check and mate. Any questions?
So it should come as no surprise that Beyoncé used her art as the vehicle to share the impact of witnessing her mother’s marriage dissolve, her own husband’s infidelity and other stories from her circle of sister-friends–remember the domestic abuse her sister Kelly Rowland shared that she’d endured?
After watching Lemonade, the one takeaway that appears evident to all is that Bey has been betrayed. She’s been cheated on. Lied to. Broken hearted. And the offending party was the love of her life. The offender was Jay Z. Jay Z, her husband of eight years and father to her daughter Blue Ivy. The man she’s known since she was 16. Her collaborator. Her muse. The man with whom she’s built an empire valued in the billions, with a ‘B.’
So what are you gonna say at my funeral, now that you’ve killed me? Here lies the body of the love of my life, whose heart I broke without a gun to my head
Marriage is a legal and spiritual bond. Two people coming together, vowing to love, honor, cherish, ride or die, be each other’s Bonnie and Clyde. However its worded, the mutual understanding is that they will be true to and truthful with one another. When a spouse breaks those vows, whether by infidelity, irresponsibility, or any of a myriad of actions that put the other partner at risk, the pain runs deep. Some marriages weather the storms, others do not. The Carters have clearly chosen the former option for their union.
Lemonade contains two songs that made me sob. “Sandcastles,” in which Jay and Bey are shown more intimately than ever before seen by the public and “All Night Long”, the quintessential song to, “touch up and rub up and feel up, all night long,” on your love after you’ve made it through. The sweet taste of sugar as foil to the bitterness of the lemons.
If you try that shit again you gon’ lose your wife. *Flings wedding band at camera…high-step struts off*
As a woman who has been married twice and betrayed by the man I thought was the love of my life, only to have him realize what he’d lost after I walked away, “Sandcastles” struck me so deeply and unexpectedly that I couldn’t contain myself and my emotions freely flowed from me. In the video we peek in on a fresh faced Beyoncé belting her raw pain, barefoot, sans glitz, glam, shiny leotard or her ubiquitous locks-blowing fan, cross legged on the floor of a simple room at a piano, alone, hurt, cut to her core by the man who promised vowed, before God and witnesses to love her, to hold her above all others, to protect her heart.
But we also see something else. We see the man, the husband, Jay Z, caressing her. Holding her. Gazing into her eyes, closed mouth, as she speaks her pain. Shares her words. her wounds, her thoughts, about him and his actions. He’s saying implicitly, “I’ve hurt you, but in the process I’ve also hurt myself. I’m about to lose my all, my everything, my wife. What have I done? And more importantly,what can I do to fix it?”
After belting out, with cracked, emotional-filled notes, “Pictures snatched out the frame, scratched out your name and your face,” she sees standing before her husband, in his brokenness. “I made you cry, when I walked away.” She asks him to show her his scars. Let her see that he’s hurt himself in this process. Then and only then will she return to him and try, again.
And what we see in “Sandcastles” is that he, Jay Z, that badass drug dealer turned rapper mogul, empresario, replacin’ women Jigga, Hov, shows his scars to his wife, to keep his wife. To save his marriage. To save his life.
In an epic Facebook post that everyone, but especially men, should read, Chicago poet and self-proclaimed “Jay Z head,” Kwabena Foli speaks from his perspective, as a Black Man, on the impact of the moment Jay bears his soul, his scars, dare I say, his true manhood to Bey on screen for all to see,
Jay Z made pimp culture cool (not to mention the older men in my life who modeled it before me). Pimp culture can be summed up pretty much in this – i believe women need me and exist for me. Like, a woman’s value is only as much as you can use her for…
When [Beyoncé] looks at Jay Z and sings…
and your heart is broken
cuz I walked away
Show me your scars
and I won’t walk away
I know I promised that I couldn’t stay
but every promise don’t work out that way
and the way he appeared to breathe all that in as he laid at her feet had my mind blown. This is the creator of Big Pimpin! This is the guy with the hottest chick in the game wearing his chain! Now the dude I’m looking at is vulnerable – yet not embarrassed by it. He looks straight into the camera at one point like, “Yea. I got it all wrong. She doesn’t need or exist for me. I need and exist for her.
If we’re going to heal, let it be glorious
We will likely never know what happened between Jay and Bey, nor truthfully is it any of our business what happens between any husband and wife. Jay Z seems to love his wife. He supports her artistic expression. And he is her ride or die. Whatever autobiographical elements Bey intertwined into the universal narrative of betrayal, shared pain, and the possibility of forgiveness, Shawn Carter, her husband, Jay Z, is there, next to her, and the onscreen result is, in fact, glorious.
Photo: Screenshot/Parkwood Entertainment
Michelle Y. Talbert is a regular contributor to For Harriet. She is a recovering attorney, author and host of the Her Power Hustle Podcast, who helps women create powerful connections in business and love. Follow her on Instagram
Culled from: /www.forharriet.com