Lemonade: A Gateway Drug
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The divide between the popular and the esoteric typically prevents virtuosic and overtly political material from reaching the masses, limiting its reach to more highbrow consumers of art. Beyoncé’s 2016 release, Lemonade, however, exemplifies how a high level of artistry as well as social consciousness can have a place in popular art. Throughout her career, Beyoncé has been progressively moving farther from her girl-group roots towards the position of a socially- conscious and critical artist, all while maintaining—if not increasing—her popularity. Much of what sets Lemonade apart from other contemporary popular art is its interdisciplinary nature as well as several strategically placed cultural and historical references. I conduct a close reading of Lemonade, exploring a mix of fan discussion and popular press produced around and against the album while integrating this with scholarly writings on the black female body, high art, and authenticity in performance. While examining the efficacy of sincerity, authenticity, and materiality in the work, I explore how the public receives these things and ultimately how they promote her accessibility as an activist to her audience. This study of Beyoncé will contribute to a discussion about how politically conscious and virtuosic art can be accessible and popular.
Green, Nicole Marie (2017). Lemonade: A Gateway Drug. Undergraduate Research Scholars Program. Available electronically from