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Ibeyi, Laolu Senbanjo, Warsan Shire Featured In Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'

Beyoncé’s 'Lemonade' HBO special was packed with references to afro-diasporic religion, afrofuturism and southern gothic tropes.

Screengrab from Lemonade

Okayafrica favorite, the Nigerian visual artist Laolu Senbanjo’s work plays a major role in Lemonade—the extended video from Beyoncé that premiered tonight on HBO—with body-painted dancers in his signature afromysterics style taking up a portion of the hourlong event. His Yoruba-influenced markings even adorns Beyoncé at one point.


The Laolu Senbanjo adorned dancers in Apathy. Screengrab from Lemonade

We were expecting that. What we didn’t expect was another member of the Okayafrica family, Lisa-Kaindé of Ibeyi, looking stark in black and white, two minutes in. Lisa-Kaindé and her sister Naomi made a few more cameos throughout the night—sitting in a tree and on steps alongside Chloe x Halle, Amandla Stenberg, Zendaya and Queen B herself.

Still from Lemonade

Overall, Lemonade is packed with references to afro-diasporic religion, afrofuturism and southern gothic tropes. Some of the scratchy voiceover and long shots of Yoncé walking among the ruins of Fort Macombe, Louisiana give it a True Detective Season 1 feel. Not the first time the Beyonce/Jay-Z/True Detective link has been made. In Lemonade, however, it's more like True Detective meets Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Other parts feel like brooding indie films meets Knowles-family home movies. Still others are more like conventional R&B videos set on a city street where our hero smashes car windshields to what sounds like a reggae cover of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s “Maps” before driving over everything in a monster truck.

The rest of Lemonade is a montage of Mardi Gras Indians, bayou lounging, candomblé and blues guitar. The music has more roots and gospel feel than what we’ve been given lately. It’s fitting.

There’s also a unmistakeable verse from The Weeknd AKA Abęl Tesfaye and everyone’s favorite mopey British crooner James Blake.

Beyoncé quotes the poetry of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire on several occasions throughout Lemonade.

Beyoncé and Serena have an incendiary chemistry. Screengrab from Lemonade.

There is also a cameo from the unmistakeable Serena Williams who will give you goosebumps when you see her and Beyoncé dancing in the same frame.

Also spotted are the model Chantelle Brown-Young and the star of Beasts of the Southern Wild Quvenzhané Wallis.

A full twelve-track Lemonade album was released at the end of the HBO special, featuring full versions of a number of the songs featured in the video and appearances by Jack White, The Weeknd, James Blake and Kendrick Lamar. You can listen to the album via Tidal here. Check out the tracklist below.

Beyoncé Lemonade Tracklist

1. Pray You Catch Me

2. Hold Up

3. Don’t Hurt Yourself featuring Jack White

4. Sorry

5. 6 Inch featuring The Weeknd

6. Daddy Lessons

7. Love Drought

8. Sandcastles

9. Forward featuring James Blake

10. Freedom featuring Kendrick Lamar

11. All Night

12. Formation

Interview

Angelique Kidjo Writes a Love Letter to 'Mother Nature'

We talk to the Beninese musical icon about assembling her new album on Zoom and the "bigger than COVID-19" threat that lies ahead!

The kind of infectious energy that lives within Angelique Kidjo can't be contained by Zoom. Her zest for life reaches out far beyond any screen, and burns stronger than the fastest internet connection.

"I can't wait until we're in person hugging again," she enthuses soon after joining our Zoom meeting to discuss her latest album Mother Nature. Having been on the receiving end of a hug from the four-time Grammy-winning singer, I know exactly what I'm missing out on. "Me too," I say, as I wrap my arms around my laptop, my face squishing the screen. "No, no," she retorts. "I don't want that. You keep it. I want the real deal," she chuckles, her full-bodied trademark laughter lovingly admonishing me.

The Benin-born musician is preparing to release Mother Nature, a collection of songs reflecting our one Earth, and cementing her status as an African musical icon. Collaborating with the likes of Yemi Alade, Mr Eazi, Burna Boy, Sampa the Great, Shungudzo and more, Kidjo's crossing through time and space, over age and country through Mother Nature's themes and stories. Each track is infused with a vigor that only she possesses — the kind that shares a significant message even as the listener is called to just dance or sing along.

Below, Angelique Kidjo reminisces about making the album, and chats us through her hopes and dreams for it!

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