It’s Beyoncé’s world. We’re just living in it. Need proof? The Texas-bred singer’s sixth studio album, Lemonade, which also happens to be her second visual album to date, is the third biggest-selling album of 2016.
When Lemonade was released in April, the hour-long visual component to the album sent the Beyhive into a tizzy and drew rave reviews. Lemonade is now currently nominated for four Emmy awards, including one for outstanding directing. Currently on the “Formation” world tour, Beyoncé continues to dazzle and slay. Check out some of the secrets and lesser-known details about Lemonade and its groundbreaking film.
Mums the Word
Aside from a select few individuals, none of the participants involved in the Lemonade film knew what they were getting into. Model Winnie Harlow, who appears in it, told Cosmpolitan that all of the details (except for the title’s project) were a secret. “I think after the filming, we all didn’t really know exactly what the project was, but we could sense how epic it was,” she said. “Like of course we were part of the scenes, but we just weren’t told what exactly was going on, you know?”
Malina Matsoukas, the visionary behind the “Formation” video, is one of seven formidable directors involved in Lemonade, including Jonas Akerlund, who worked with Beyoncé before on “Haunted,” Kahlil Joseph, Dikayl Rimmasch, Mark Romanek, Todd Tourso and Queen Bey herself. Bey and Joseph are nominated for an Emmy for outstanding directing for a variety special.
Location, Location, Location
The city of New Orleans is as much a character in Lemonade as Beyoncé herself.
Madewood, a national historic landmark and former plantation house built in 1846, makes a cameo appearance in the visuals. And much like model Winnie Harlow, the owners of Madewood had no idea what Lemonade was, or that Beyoncé was even involved. That is, until she first arrived on set.
Other NOLA locations seen in the film include Destrehan Plantation, Fort Macomb, St. Claude Avenue and Bourbon Street.
It Takes a Village
The liner credits for Lemonade indicate that there were a total of 72 writers on the project. The song on the album with the longest list of credits? “Hold Up.” Fifteen writers are credited on that song alone.
In an interview with Okay Africa, artist and Lemonade body painter Laolu Senbanjo had this to say about his experience working on the film: “Art can be used to translate ideas. The Sacred Art of the Ori is basically about connection between the artist and the music. What I basically did was to connect with the different people that were painted in the video, and connect with them on the art. And also on a spiritual level. The connection is what I want people to take away.”
Ingrid Burley co-wrote the seventh song on Lemonade, “Love Drought.” In an interview with Genius, Burley insisted that some of the lyrics refer to her relationship with music and Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment, not infidelity like many have assumed. At the time, Burley was frustrated with Beyoncé’s label and channeled that frustration into the song’s lyrics. Said Burley, “She’s gonna sing the song I wrote about her label one day.”
According to Marni Senofonte, the Lemonade film had a “scheduled spontaneity” to it. In an interview with Vogue, Senofonte revealed, “I think the story Beyoncé was trying to tell was always inside of her. There was a “run and gun” aspect of production: It wasn’t like a television show or a film script like, ‘OK, we’re shooting these three scenes and we’re going to shot them until completion.’ She kept catching moments and seeing moments, and shooting in the sense of, “Oh, there’s this beautiful light, let’s catch it!”
In addition to parts of Malcolm X’s “Who Taught You to Hate Yourself?” speech and poet Warshan Shire’s spoken-word album Warsan Versus Melancholy (The Seven Stages of Being Lonely), lyrical and instrumental samples decorate the Lemonade sound. Here are a few of the known samples utilized: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ “Maps” sampled on “Hold Up”; Soulja Boy’s “Turn My Swag On” on “Hold Up”; Andy Williams’s “Can’t Get Used to Losing You” on “Hold Up”; Led Zepplin’s “When The Levee Breaks” on “Don’t Hurt Yourself”; Isaac Hayes’s “Walk On By” on “6 Inch”; Kaleidoscope’s “Let Me Try” on “Freedom,” and Outkast “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” on “All Night.”
Marni Senofonte, the designer responsible for the incredible fashions seen throughout Lemonade, says that the vibe of the entire project was “the antebellum-slash-Victorian-slash-modern-day.”
Kim Kimble, Beyoncé’s hairstylist, highlighted the singer’s love for baby hair in “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” Sporting cornrows and finished edges, Yoncé slays.
You know the one – that larger-than-life sombrero inspired hat. You can’t exactly buy it anywhere – yet. But if the Baron Hats team is thinking smart, you’ll be able to purchase one in no time.
You can find Malakai’s jewelry all over Yoncé’s face in “Don’t Hurt Yourself.” He had no idea his work would appear in Lemonade. He was only told that it would be featured in a “secret project in New Orleans.”
Not only did musician Melo-X co-write some of the songs on the Lemonade album (“Hold Up” and “Sorry”), he also scored the visual album and did the sound design.
Songwriter Diana Gordon is responsible for the now infamous “Becky with the good hair” line. She said that even Beyoncé didn’t expect that the line would garner so much attention.