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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
Photo: Mariela Alvarez.

Interview: ÌFÉ Blends Music & Religion to Honor Those Who Have Died During the Pandemic

Producer and percussionist Otura Mun talks about his latest EP, The Living Dead, and how he traces the influences of West Africa in his new work.

There are bands that open up a spiritual world through their music. ÌFÉ is one example. An electro-futurist band that fuses Afro-Cuban rhythms and Jamaican dancehall with Yoruba mystical voices. With the success of their 2017 debut album "IIII+IIII" (pronounced Eji-Ogbe), ÌFÉ has reached an audience that is looking for Caribbean and contemporary sounds.

The Puerto Rican-based band just released a new EP, The Living Dead- Ashé Bogbo Egun, that aims to heal and honor those who have died during this pandemic. Otura Mun, the band leader, is an African-American producer and percussionist, who began a personal journey about a decade ago, when he landed in San Juan, and decided to move there. He learned Spanish, dug deep into his African ancestry and started to practice the Yoruba-Caribbean religion of Santería.

ÌFÉ, which means "love and expansion" in Yoruba, ties two worlds, music and religion, artistically. This new EP modernized prayer songs to hopefully make them more accessible to a younger generation. OkayAfrica spoke with Otura Mun on his latest work.

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