So Lemonade, Beyoncé’s visual album that strongly suggests her husband, Jay Z, was giving her the run-around, and that she cycled through the cycle of rage-sorrow-forgiveness-rebirth and chronicled said cycle in her music, was released on Saturday. Wonder what Saturday night was like at the Knowles-Carter household?
Eric Richardson is a security guard in Baltimore. He’s had story ideas in his head before, “but I was too self-conscious to write about them, so I would keep them to myself,” he said by phone. Until Monday, when he started a WordPress blog and shared his first story: “The Lemons,” a hilarious, fantastic — in the literal sense of the word — and almost-immediately-viral imagining of Beyoncé and Jay Z in the aftermath of Lemonade. The last time Richardson checked, his inaugural piece had 100,000 views.
“As a black man, I thought it was cool to see a black couple together they way they are,” Richardson said of Beyoncé and Jay Z’s relationship (pre-Lemonade). “They were the most powerful couple.”
Even though Richardson points out that there’s “so much more going on in Lemonade past the infidelity,” that plot is “the most sensational aspect of it… There’s nothing people can relate to more than a couple who everyone thought were great together suddenly having problems.”
Bey: laugh without my permission again
Bey: I want you to think I’m joking so bad
Bey: I love you
Of course, Beyoncé would never come right out and tell the masses the intimate details of her marriage. She practically never tweets, Instagrams with little-to-no captions, and has all but ceased giving interviews. Even if she were not a remarkable talent, this tendency toward silence would make her stand out from the rest of the pop music elite. Kanye can’t shut up. Taylor Swift, though more controlled, is no less prone to oversharing. Drake responds to every dis track; Nicki Minaj to any public snub. All of that is beneath Beyoncé, an apparently bulletproof public figure whose brand is perfection in every facet of her life: personal, professional, physical.
Even Lemonade is only as revealing as you, the consumer, believes it to be. It could be an artistic documentary. It could be fiction. It could be a hybrid. The only people who really know will likely never say. This leaves a vacuum. Nature abhors a vacuum. So does pop culture. Fortunately, the vacuum can be filled with fan fiction.
On ‘Lemonade’: Through Vulnerability, Beyoncé Displays Her PowerBeyoncé has something to say. This alone is something of an event, because Beyoncé has earned a reputation as the star…thinkprogress.orgIn “The Lemons,” Beyoncé speaks in this fantastic high-low mash-up of regal, Queen-speak and profane, slang-laced talk. One minute, she is telling J. Cole, “You came at a beautiful time. A beautiful time that you were not invited to. How did you enter my home.” The next, she is promising, re: her husband, “Ima bite his lips off. Then I’m going to sew them back on.”
“I saw one of her interviews, and I found the way she talks hilarious,” said Richardson. “She sings with this powerful voice, and then when she talks, she sounds like any southern ghetto woman… There was one thing when she was talking about pretending to cook in a music video, and she said, ‘I look like I can’t cook. That’s accurate.’ And I found her southern twang hilarious. She has this queen goddess thing, but she’s still this southern girl from Houston. So she goes between them as she pleases.”
Beyoncé saves her most vulgar, disdainful lines for Kanye and Kim Kardashian — the mere sound of Kim’s voice makes Beyonce vomit controllably — and, on occasion, for Jay Z.
“I found that to be realistic,” Richardson said. “Because everyone has the different ways they talk to certain people. There are friends they can joke with and talk normal, and then at work, they’re serious. Seeing Beyoncé operate, you can see who she does and doesn’t mess with. So I thought it would be funny to have her go between.”
Bey: Do you want me to wear her skin
Bey: I could literally pay anyone to bring me her skin. That wasn’t just a poem, Shawn.
In addition to the usual suspects from Beyoncé’s life — her mother, her father, her sister Solange, her daughter Blue Ivy — “The Lemons” is filled with the likes of Taraji P. Henson and director Ava DuVernay. Prince comes back from the dead, hiding out in Beyoncé’s basement and making requests for kale.
“It’s typical fan fiction culture. It has to be a little bit wild and alternate-universe-like,” said Richardson. “It needs to have those twists like a TV show.”
At first, Richardson was just “being goofy on Twitter with my friends, making up an imaginary scenario, something I tend to do.” But someone told him he should make up a whole series, so Richardson went for it. His most famous fan (at least, he thinks/hopes she’s a fan), is DuVernay, who tweeted a link to the first installment:
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 27, 2016
Considering what Richardson has DuVernay get into in “The Lemons,” he said, “I can’t tell if it’s a good ‘whoa’ or a bad ‘whoa.’” But it was her tweet that brought Richardson’s attention to the hashtag, #TheLemons, and clued him into the fact that “people [were] quoting it and talking about it and reading it.”
Is it possible that Lemonade is completely fake? That Jay and Beyoncé are sitting at home, cackling at all of us, swimming in the money they’re minting from this made-up drama like Scrooge diving into a pool of gold?
“I feel like that’s probably something they do a little bit,” Richardson said. “But knowing guys, there’s no way Jay didn’t mess up to some degree. People think relationships are either good or bad, but they’re good as long as you’re willing to work on it. I can see them laughing sometimes until she remembers what he did, and then she’s like, ‘Stop laughing.’”
Bey: You’re my favorite man in the world and I want to be the one to kill you
*The doorbell rings to the tune of crazy in love*
Jay: We have guests, hon-
Bey: Shut up
“My wife told me once, ‘If you ever cheated on me, I couldn’t let you leave. You’d have freedom and I want you to suffer forever,’” Richardson said. “And that’s how Beyoncé is going about it: Now you have to travel to me on tour, so everyone can see you with me, and I can tell you I love you in front of everyone, and they can call you a piece of shit.”
“Being a married man, you can see, when there’s an instance when you mess up, if you want to stay in a relationship, there are things you have to compromise,” he went on. “If Jay Z realized the mistake he made, and she said, ‘I’m going to make this album,’ he [would say], ‘Sure! I’ll help!’”
Richardson is working on the fourth chapter of “The Lemons” now, focusing on his writing instead of rapping and making beats, his other creative pursuits. “I’ll say I’m working on a Drake fan fic,” he said, but other than that, it’s just been ‘The Lemons.’ “I’m branching out from just Beyoncé’s house. Now it’s a whole ‘Trapped in the Closet’-style wild story.”