If you’ve been wondering how Jay Z’s managed to stay quiet in the midst of Internet slander and women and men all over the world essentially calling him the dumbest and most ungrateful man alive for cheating on Beyonce, here’s a clue: rumor has it he’s saving his response for the studio.
This morning, US Weekly published a report from an insider close to the couple who claims “Jay is working on an album telling his side of things.” Say it ain’t so. No really, someone in Jay Z’s camp please, say it ain’t so.
Last Monday, I wrote a piece about Lemonade, the first offering from Beyonce that actually caused me to look at her as a human being rather than a robotic symbol of perfection so concerned with her image and her reign as Queen Bey she lost her voice when it came to issues that mattered, unless it was for material gain. Lemonade literally fed my soul in the most unexpected way because, contrary to many memes and mainstream reviews of the body of work, overcoming infidelity in a marriage was the least important message to digest. Lemonade was about the spirit of Black women, our sisterhood, our resilience, our legacy of turning the most sour of circumstances into something beautiful to be experienced by those we love. It’s for that reason that I don’t need a recorded response from Jay Z to her album, no matter how much it may satisfy my curiosity.
In last week’s episode of Did Y’all See? I admitted that I really didn’t care whether Lemonade was based in truth or not. Enough women have experienced the heartbreak of cheating that to place herself in the shoes of those women and offer up songs of pain, solidarity, and hope that women from all walks of life could identify with, Beyonce did a great service, in my mind. If Lemonade is factual, Beyonce’s work is extremely courageous and vulnerable. If it’s fiction, I still consider the album and its accompanying visuals an overwhelmingly selfless work of art. If Jay Z releases an album spilling tea all over Bey’s Lemonade, I’ll be right back where I started 11 days before teetering on the fence between Beyhive member and music appreciator: There’s little these disillusioned individuals won’t do for the sake of having their names roll off the tongue of every man, woman, and child, and collecting the type of million dollar checks that come with that level of notoriety.
As interesting as it would be to hear what Jay Z has to say about stepping out on Bey, and as supportive as I am of real conversations about infidelity that don’t reduce men’s decision to cheat in monogamous arrangements as a consequence of biology, an album of this sort would do nothing more than cheapen Lemonade. If Jay Z were to deliver his own sweet tasting, I’d have no choice but to question Beyonce’s album — not the factual accuracy of it, but the motive behind it — as many naysayers have been doing since its release April 23. Instead of believing, as I do now, that Beyonce bared her soul and exposed the wounds of her mother at the hands of her father and former manager for the sake of reminding women not to quit on themselves and that we all have “stuff,” I’d have no choice but to view Lemonade as an opportunistic gimmick. And as much as that would have me in my feelings, I’d feel far worse for the mothers of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin whose real tales of strife were woven into Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s plan from the jump and exploited, as Piers Morgan has charged, for capital gain. In short, all the respect I gained for Bey last Saturday would be lost and likely never regained because in many Black women’s minds, Lemonade is far more than a he said/she said marital battle, and if Beyonce and Jay Z see adultery as nothing more than a behavior to harness in lyrics for their misuse, then, as one coworker simply pointed out, “I need folks to be deeper than that.”
Truthfully, I wouldn’t mind one song from Jay Z owning his mistakes and walking us through the process of reconciliation from his side, but anything more than that at this point is not only too soon, but inappropriate. Beyonce, through her lyrics, album visuals, and the poetry of Warsan Shire spoke a word for Black women and Black girls everywhere. Jay Z is a man who considers his mere presence a charity; I don’t need an inauthentic donation from him to overshadow all Lemonade stands for for women like me.
So like I always hope when TMZ reports the death of an entertainer before anyone else, I’m going to wish upon a star that US Weekly and their insider got this news wrong and Jay isn’t even considering, let alone currently working, on an album as brazen as what I consider his retort would be. But then again, when you’re talking about a man with a God complex, a project like this is very likely.