BET: ANTI > Lemonade

BET let some crazy intern start war between the Beyhive and the Navy again. A few days ago, BET posted this messy tweet along with an article on why Rihanna’s ANTI album was better than Beyonce’s Lemonade. The tweet and article have now been deleted. You would think BET would be careful when it comes to Bey after the Blue Ivy fiasco.

BET tried to make things better with a tweet in support of Bey but fans were not having it.

So, I must ask:

From the deleted article, here are some comments made in regards to both albums:

On Lemonade:

The turf war for pop culture significance is the realest factor of any Beyoncé moment. By definition, she does her own storytelling and decides first how her message will be received before one lyric is inked. But instead of serving a full tart glass of Lemonade — Beyoncé’s definitive “f**k you” album — she offers a candied, icy slush, the pulpy truths melting beneath her need for utter control. Of every syllable sung. Of every theme implied.

But this isn’t a Beyoncé hit piece. Lemonade is, on its own terms, a victory for Mrs. Knowles-Carter and her household empire. The family crest and wealth are intact. We can commiserate and speculate about her and Jay Z’s marital problems (because “they’re like us” hopefully). Wherever it may land artistically versus her other records, it’s one of the few pop culture smash hits that wades into the muddy swamps of divorce, separation and other terminal symptoms of monogamy. And she does so through a woman’s eyes, burdened by her presumed role as a preserver of the same order that attacks her being.

Lemonade’s uneven quality is born from the innate contradiction of her insistence on control and the unmet requirements of actual candor. So, while “Hold Up” and “Sorry” bravely hoist up the first half of Lemonade with structured outbursts and bottled rage, “Sandcastles” and “Six Inch” hunker down like wordy explanations of her marital malaise, a songwriter’s Easter egg hint that all these verses must closely hug a theme and that continuity may stifle flourish.

“Freedom” and “Formation” suffer these sins as well, though they’re markedly more upbeat, mimicking better songs. Kendrick Lamar’s manically vague symbolism and the marching “Formation” drumline (a typical !!!!!!! rallying cry — think “711”) are familiar notes for her, dropping only cursory references to an earned freedom (from what? And how?), and the signifiers of her race politic (“baby hair,” “Negro nose”). Much of these cultural clues are lost in her gumbo, as the songs’ climaxes single out her individual wants and not the reality of this complex politic, which seems to affirm a Black aesthetic while embracing the long blond tresses of whiteness. Like, how can she “not crave material things” and grind from “Monday to Friday stacking her paper”? Are the Second Amendment “Daddy Lessons” a real nod to Southern justice or a veiled shout-out to the violent rites of patriarchy? Maybe these proclamations are the permissible paradoxes of a complex mega-star. Or maybe that dissonance is deafening — and often crippling.


Conversely, where Beyoncé tends to turn her albums into deliberate exercises — squeezing the most festivity out of a release while stunting on the full execution of a guiding concept — Rihanna runs free. Every ANTI song sounds like #mood. The Barbados enchantress spikes the narrative about her by embracing it and then flipping a finger to it. (“Didn’t they tell you that I was a savage/F**k your white horse and a carriage.”) In these skyward gunshots, she’s everything lovable about Rihanna, destroying the feeble savior complex but acknowledging her sharp edges can be a repellent. Her subtle contrasts, her not caring about our ideas of “romance” and her pleading loudly for respect, attention and consideration from her lovers, instill rebellion in the album’s gradual movement from a humble-brag about sexual prowess to a truly humble breakdown of internal isolation.

It’s like she’s skipping along her private shore, no baggage, with a letter for her lost love. A letter she’ll burn in the bonfire of his pride. There’s no forgiveness in ANTI, and not just because Robyn Fenty is a younger woman with potentially “less to lose,” but more often because she’s not obsessed with the constant gaze of her many observers. She’s unbothered.

Rihanna has to navigate the choppy waters of cultural markers, too, no doubt, but no trending wave can overwhelm the specific stories she has to tell. When she wants to issue bold statements about her sexual or racial politic, she says them in interviews or explains them literally. ANTI is an extension of her “over it” personality, one that dispatches needless words or loaded overtures in favor of a simple eye roll and a Caribbean full stop.

I, personally, have been playing both albums since they’ve come out. Both women put out arguably their best project this year and I enjoyed the music. With Rihanna’s ANTI, I was surprised on how she reinvented herself by playing with different sounds. The lyrics on ANTI such as songs like Needed Me, Kiss It Better, Yeah, I Said It, Woo, Love on the Brain (which has grown on me) hit home and have had every girl singing their hearts out this year. ANTI was a collection of Rih stepping out of her usual pop zone and experimenting with her voice. Tracks like Consideration, Desperado and Higher were proof of that. Though the marketing and concept of ANTI was a little hazy, the message ANTI told was clear: realizing the motions of love and relationships at a young age and accepting yourself and mistakes. With Lemonade, Beyonce gave us a masterpiece with great visual representation and showed us a different side of her like we’ve never seen. I didn’t know how Bey would top herself after the release of her previous self titled album but she did it. With the release of Formation and Freedom, Bey showed her stance on black womanism/lives and being comfortable in your own skin. Lemonade had outstanding ingredients in it and showcased how versatile Bey’s voice can be. With songs like Sorry, rock infused Don’t Hurt Yourself, the Daddy Lessons country ballad and the melodic tone of Love Drought and All Night, we got a mature heartbreak album about the phases of love and forgiveness. I don’t want to choose which one is better because I enjoyed both. Bey and Rih not only come from different music eras but are also in different stages of their lives. I heavily and enjoyed the perception each artist brought in their music. It’s nice to see black women dominating the charts, breaking records and being able to express themselves how they please. BET was messy for that tweet and they knew it.


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