On February 12th 2017, Beyoncé performed two songs from her album Lemonade at the 59th Grammy Awards, decked from head to toe in gold and donning her new baby bump after her announcement of a twin pregnancy broke the internet a couple of weeks back. Out of her nine nominations this year, she won two awards: the award for Best Music Video for Formation, and Best Urban Contemporary Album. Including the two that she won this year, Beyoncé has twenty two fucking Grammy Awards to her name, and sixty two nominations. That’s just the Grammy Awards. This crowns her as the woman with the second highest number of Grammy Award wins of a female artist ever, as well as the most nominated woman in the history of awards.
Based on this, it’s safe to conclude that she’s a pretty big deal.
But even if we go back a while, before the release of Lemonade (which made Beyoncé the only artist in history to ever have all of their first six albums go to #1, by the way) and the stir it created, it appears that Beyoncé has had success after success after success.
In 2014 Jay-Z and Beyoncé began their On the Run Tour. The tour averaged over 5 million dollars per concert, making it one of the most profitable to have ever existed.
In December 2013, Beyoncé’s self-titled fifth studio album was released out of nowhere. There had been no promotion for the album, no teasers, nothing, and it was initially only available to purchase on iTunes. On the first weekend after its surprise release, Beyoncé went on to sell over 800,000 copies worldwide; making it the fastest selling album in the history of the iTunes Store. It also debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200, continuing her pattern of having every single album she has fucking released go straight to #1 in the US. Oh, and she won three Grammys for it the following year.
In 2012, Forbes declared Beyoncé and Jay-Z the highest-paid celebrity couple, with earnings of 78 million dollars between them.
In 2011, she made the Forbes Top 10 list of highest-earning women. She was 31.
In 2010, Beyoncé walked away from the Grammys with six fucking awards; the most that had ever been won in one night. Adele matched that record two years later, but no one has ever beaten it.
In 2009, she performed soul legend Etta James’ hit song ‘At Last’ at the inauguration ball of Barack Obama as he and Michelle shared their first dance as President of the United States and First Lady.
In 2008, Cadillac Records was released, with Beyoncé starring as Etta James herself. She donated her entire salary from the film to Pheonix House; an organisation of rehabilitation centres for heroin addicts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with James, as well as being a huge talent and legendary soul singer, she was an infamous heroin addict, making the choice of charity all the more touching.
In 2007, ‘Irreplaceable’ spent ten goddamn weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the most successful song of the year.
Everything I’ve just listed is way after Destiny’s Child broke up in 2006, an era that would warrant its own fucking post entirely.
So, what exactly is it that annoys me about this multi-platinum, record-breaking artist?
What annoys me about Beyoncé is that every single fucking time something about her, her music, or her life gets shared on my social media feed, I discover yet another person on my friends list who has been harbouring racist, sexist, ignorant, or literally just fucking stupid views.
What annoys me is that despite the fact that she is one of the most powerful, successful and influential women in her industry, I am still seeing women asking ‘what’s the big deal about her?’ But it’s not just any women asking the question, of course. It’s white women. White women, just like me. Hilariously, a considerable number of these women go as far as to call themselves feminists, if you can fucking believe it. The same women fighting to close the wage gap between women and men are the ones saying Beyoncé is overrated and they can’t understand why people pay money to see her live. How does that work?
What proper winds me up about Beyoncé is that she serves as a constant reminder that I am a member of a race that is still littered with ignorant people. She reminds me that even though I understand, there are many girls and boys out there just like me that are too deluded in their own privilege to comprehend the fact that there might be something out there, available for public consumption that, although is popular, wasn’t fucking made for them.
Since the Grammys aired on February 12th I have heard, on three separate occasions and by three separate people, ask the same question:
‘Why did Adele feel the need to say that Beyoncé was an inspiration to her black friends? Why not just her friends?’
This is, of course, referring to Adele’s acceptance speech after winning Album of the Year. The speech where she described Lemonade as ‘monumental’, and then went on to say: ‘the way you make my black friends feel, is empowering.’
I can’t say for sure why Adele felt the need to mention her black friends in particular, but perhaps it was because Beyoncé reads the poetry of Somali-British poet Warsan Shire as an interlude between every single song on the visual album.
Maybe it was because in the Sorry segment of Lemonade, we see not only see black Olympic athlete Serena Williams make an appearance, but also Beyoncé and her dancers donned in spectacular body art by Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo, as a display of The Sacred Art of the Ori.
Or it could have been because she chose to have the mothers of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garne – three black men who died at the hands of the police (besides Martin, who was shot by a neighbourhood watch volunteer) – appear in the visual album, each holding pictures of their sons.
She may have felt the need to mention her black friends in particular because of Beyoncé’s use of African designers, musicians and producers throughout the entire process of making Lemonade, including Maki Oh, Uzo Emenike, Khalik Allah, and Onye Anyanwu.
What annoys me about Beyoncé is that despite all this, there are people asking why it was necessary for her to be praised specifically for her influence on black women.
What annoys me about her is despite the fact that Lemonade is an album made by black women, for black women, there are white women that still feel entitled to bask in its meaning, depth, and heritage, despite it having nothing to fucking do with them.
What annoys me above all about Beyoncé is that I spent little more than an hour researching facts for this post. The information was right there, just a click away. After watching Lemonade and appreciating its visuals, literature and sound without having any real comprehension of what it really meant, it annoys me that it takes so little to go and fucking educate yourself and there are so many who are still so reluctant to do so.
There are so many who will criticise and question fairness without a single fucking clue of what this album means to the people it is intended for.
As an album, I fucking love Lemonade. As an artist, I fucking love Beyoncé.
Nevertheless, everytime I listen to Lemonade in the car on my drive home from work, I will be reminded that it does not belong to me. I will be reminded that, while I might sing along to the words and give each song its own meaning that is relevant to me, there is a deeper level to that album that is reserved for only a certain few of my friends.
And yes, in the words of Adele, those are specifically my black friends.