Meet 9 WoC behind ‘Lemonade’ that aren’t Beyoncé
07 May 2016
After a week and a half of Lemonade, culture is slowly returning to business as usual. There’s been laughter, there’s been tears, there’s been outrageous accusations and even better comebacks. There have been think pieces. So. Many. Thinkpieces. And even country greats have been sipping on some Lemonade.
Loosely based on drama Beyoncé will never tell us verbatim, Lemonade is an album inspired by a man, but motivated by women. It’s Beyoncé’s album, but it’s also ours. In the film there was a heavy emphasis on women; black women. As told by Malcolm X, we’ve got it pretty hard. Yet, in Lemonade, black women were everywhere. Supporting and taking centre stage, black women were on the street, cooking, dancing and even sitting and gazing, only engaging if they wanted to. They didn’t have to prove their purpose or perform. Their presence was enough in what is arguably one of the world’s most viewed visuals.
They also contributed to the creation of this album. We’ve had time to marvel at the lengthy and astounding credits list. A small village collaborated to create this masterpiece and it wouldn’t be right to celebrate it without giving a mention to the other women of excellence who contributed to it. From featuring in the film, to samples, to song-writing credits, these are the ladies of Lemonade.
1. Carla Marie Williams
The Londoner wrote ‘Freedom’ in addition to ‘Running’ for Beyoncé and Arrow Benjamin, and has writing credits for Alesha Dixon, Girls Aloud and The Saturdays. Speaking on being a black woman in the music industry: “I was hit hard by the stereotypes of what it meant to be a black girl singing alternative music, but I turned them all down to pursue my individualism and pave a way for a new generation of rock soul stars.” Unflinchingly honest, you can hear Williams’ defiance in every word she writes. Her project Girls I Rate will empower and celebrate women in the industry.
2. Diana ‘Wynter’ Gordon
Contributing to ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’, ‘Sorry’ and ‘Daddy Lessons’, this isn’t the first major gig for Wynter Gordon, who also has writing credits for Danity Kane, Flo Rida, David Guetta and JLo. Her solo EP, FIVE NEEDLE, is a bewitchingly beautiful. Her folky lilt floating over the atmospheric production will make you swoon, proving she can do it all.
3. Karen O
Frontwoman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for over a decade, Karen O is the King of DIY rock. Responsible for classics ‘Heads Will Roll’, ‘Gold Lions’ and Lemonade-sampled song ‘Maps’, her punky approach and colourful lyrics proved staying power for the band who outlasted their early peers. Since their hiatus, Karen released her solo debut offering scratchy indie rock with attitude. So soft you might miss snarky lyrics like “Love is soft, love’s a f*cking b*tch” – she’s still got it.
4. & 5. Chloe x Halle
Signed to Beyoncé’s Parkwood Entertainment with fans Solange, Alicia Keys, Grimes, Tori Kelly, the Obamas and just about everyone else, sisters Chloe and Halle really were born to do this. Dropping their debut EP next Tuesday, their maturity both vocally and lyrically is staggering, but not surprising. They sing with the confidence of a patient ascent and they’ve definitely paid their dues. Sugar Symphony is magnetic. Their rich, ever-swelling harmonies are comfortably familiar and like silk, their voices melt into one pure entity. From the music-box R&B of ‘Red Lights’ to trap-tinged ‘Drop’, the latter was their debut, but it barely uncovered their talent.
6. Amandla Stenberg
Best known for playing Rue in Hunger Games, but also their activism and video outlining cultural appropriation, Stenberg is also a musician. As a violinist and vocalist in band Honeywater with Zander Hawley, their four-track self titled EP is filled with upbeat, no-frills folk. Of the project Stenberg says, “Honeywater has given me the opportunity to grow as a violinist and vocalist, to push myself and be adventurous”.
7. & 8. Ibeyi
The Cuban twins who stole hearts with haunting acapella debut ‘Oya’ also feature among Bey’s team of music makers. Signed to XL, they’ve taken afrobeat-affected percussive pop all over the world, most recently storming the dusty plains of Coachella. We featured them in our top 20 albums of 2015 and we’re still in love with their mystical soundscapes.
Like Disney kids are, Zendaya is a triple threat. First acting, dancing and now singing, Zendaya’s feathery falsetto has garnered 135 millions views on ‘Club Replay’ alone. Her new track ‘Something New’ is a certified banger and we’re looking forward to what she does next.