By now the world knows that Beyoncé has dropped her emotionally charged Lemonade. Well, she didn’t drop it; more like she dumped a ton of Lemonade over our heads. That is how impactful this visual album has become within the black community in just a few short days. I don’t remember an album having this much cultural impact since Lauryn Hill dropped The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill back in 1998.
Now before y’all start trying to come at me for making this comparison, just take a look at my reasoning. Then listen to both Lemonade and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill before responding. You might change your mind a little.
On the surface, both albums are emotionally charged. Both Lemonade and The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill are the lyrical diaries of Beyoncé and Lauryn Hill. You hear how they respond to the haters of their time, the crushing blows of relationships going downhill, the redemption felt when love takes hold again and songs that show each woman is fighting for her life in every sense of the word.
Some are having a hard time with the delivery of these common themes. There is no denying that Lauryn Hill is a true lyricist. She knows the power of words — how to use them to convey her message in a way that allows all who hear them to sit, listen to them and take them in. There are some vulgarities in her songs, but they are so few, you forget they are there.
Beyoncé, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same tact in her wheelhouse. When she is mad as hell, you know it without a doubt. She sings about her anger the way we verbalize it every day. Now be truthful, my strong black women: Some of the men in your life have caused you to let loose a stream of f-bombs and mofos.
In The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Hill discusses how the man she gave her all to mistreated that love in “Ex-Factor.” The pain of that struggle was felt so deeply that I for one could not listen to that song without coming close to tears. Then the same hurt and needing to say goodbye spoken of in Beyoncé’s “Sorry.” The big difference is you get the anger side of the hurt instead of the pain. Instead of “Is this just a silly game that forces you to act this way? Forces you to scream my name? Then pretend that You can’t stay?” you have, “Looking at my watch, he shoulda been home. Today I regret that night I put that ring on. He always got them fucking excuses. I pray to the Lord you reveal what his truth is.”
You also have the flashbacks to growing up. Beyoncé gave us “Daddy Lessons,” singing about what her father taught her via his words and actions. In “Every Ghetto, Every City,” Hill sings about how her environment helped to form her into the woman she’d become.
In Lemonade, the tracks “Love Drought,” “Sandcastles” and “All Night” represent the stages of pain where the tears fall and how sometimes you forgive because you can’t give up or let go of the love after all of the anger subsides. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill gave us “When it Hurts So Bad,” “I Used to Love Him” and “Nothing Even Matters” that gave us similar emotions almost 20 years ago.
Let’s not forget that Hill also spoke to her peers, haters and critics with the song “Superstar.” Hill’s words flowed smooth like milk chocolate, but there were sharp shards of glass that cut. In “Formation,” Beyoncé does the same thing, especially calling out all of the Illuminati conspiracies about her.
Just like The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill gave the adult women of my generation life back in 1998, Lemonade is doing the same now for a new generation of young black women. Beyoncé is giving them life, in their language, with all of the raw emotion you see these young women displaying on social media every day.