“We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.” Beyoncé
I am in love with that feeling you get when you listen to certain songs that just seem to empower you to an unrelenting extent. The songs that you don’t skip because you want that run of light bubbly inspiration to cascade over you. It is these type of songs that are rooted with deep meaningful loss or journey or wisdom. Such artists whom have the capability to provide this essence of strength through song stand out against all others with this deeper sense of intelligence.
I believe it is universally agreed that Beyoncé was an artist whom changed the lives for many negro women, empowering them, particularly with her pioneering album Lemonade.
Beyoncé first started experimenting with both visual and audio media’s to advocate a message in her famous music video “if I were a boy”. The audience is introduced with a string of words being “honesty, intimacy, commitment, you and me” which facilitates the questioning of relationship roles and standards.
Within this music video, gender roles are reversed and the women (Beyoncé) is seen as a flirtatious, uncommitted and disloyal partner who does not care much for the attention, support and efforts given toward her by her partner. Close to the end of the music video, the positions of the partners are revealed and the last chorus of the song demonstrates Beyoncé as the loving wife to a man whom does not care for her.
Through this contrasting method the audience questions themselves and the actions of each gender role and probes them to wonder where the gender “rules” are set, as there are none.
LETS MAKE LEMONADE
Further down the track, Beyoncé’s Lemonade is seen a “feminist text exploring the infidelity of Black Women” (Edwards, Esposito & Evans-Winters 2017) which promotes feminism in the equal quality of treatment to women, particularly of a racial colour. You can calculate the hybridisation that occurred in music between the time of if I were a boy and the Lemonade album.
Although black cultural music was the definitive medium of story telling for the African American people, and therefore an inherent and original form of expression for them – Flores (2016) remarks “Black music, and subsequently black culture, has been appropriated by dominant white mainstream culture”.
The appropriation of rapping and other components in Hip Hop
Black culture itself is seen to be hybridised and appropriated as global icons such as Beyoncé take on rapping, as a female artist, which was a controversial and innovative move in globalised music. Due to the pre-standing trends in RnB and Hip Hop, becoming a female rapper is a hard struggle to appropriate against male rappers. To become so, Flores regards how the use of inappropriate content seems to be the only way to make it there, copying masculine themes as rapping was seen as a masculine form of music.
Now, with innovative movement such as the civil rights movements in America and more recently the feminist wave, the globalisation of this music occurred due to the advocation and acceptance to such issues (race/gender). However, it is now becoming recognised that black characteristics in music, which was an innovative and unique addition to pop, is seen a s being whitewashed by white female artists (such as Taylor swift and Miley Cyrus’s, Flores 2016).
A feminist text that concentrates on race
The effect of Lemonade was a global liberation of black womanhood, it became an appropriation of these various forms of masculine music and hybridised into a passionate historic and inspirational like “pep talk” about these issues. Beyoncé’s music is seen to represent this community’s unique and overlooked discrimination, claiming empowerment to black people and strength to the women of this race. Visual African aesthetic within the features of the album assist in the cinematic quo’s of demonstrating black womanhood, reminding audiences of indigenous African culture which has changed through time but remained deeply integral.
For example, Beyoncé’s Formation starts with herself listing her cultural background. Referencing the “Creole” term of African and European mixed which was used initially to seperate from “Negro”, Beyoncé unites the terms to celebrate their indifferences. (Edwards, Esposito & Evans-Winters 2017).
Overall, Beyoncé attempts to create a message through the appropriated music she creates that the present is a time to empower people, and particularly those groups whom have been oppressed, black women. Through the hybridisation of many forms of hip hop themes, Beyoncé’s rapping was a pioneering ‘art form’ within global music that was intended to unite a group of oppressed individuals. Beyoncé has fiercely impacted and reshaped music to reinforce not only then local issues of feminism in America, but a global phenomenon of oppression to the African people.
Her moral was simply, human beings should be deeply connected to each other and thus empathise this pain to inform change to its treatment.
- Beyoncé 2016, Formation
- Edwards E.B, Esposito J & Evans-Winters V (2017) Does Beyoncé’s Lemonade Really Teach Us How to Turn Lemons into Lemonade? Exploring the limits and possibilities through black feminism Taboo https://moodle.uowplatform.edu.au/mod/resource/view.php?id=1320776 [26th August 2019]
- Flores M (2016) The Mic: Struggles of Black Female Voice in Rap Butler University pg 5-13 https://digitalcommons.butler.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1351&context=ugtheses [26th August 2019]