One of the most revered aspects of Beyoncé’s career has been her ability to maintain a strict divide between her public and private personas. When LEMONADE dropped on Saturday night, it not only amplified a narrative of the deteriorating marriage between her and Jay Z that has long been advertised by the tabloid media, but also humanized it through her most personal and revealing music thus far.
While it would be ridiculous to assume that the album could tell a precisely linear story—and, of course we’ll never know too much about Bey and Jay’s marriage apart from lyrical content—LEMONADE’s structural arc does seemingly coincide with the pair’s rocky 2014. In an effort expand on the narrative, hereby indulging our insatiable thirst for more lemonade, we’ve attempted to sync the album’s tracklist to what the tabloids have reported over the past few years.
“Pray You Catch Me” probably correlates to the infamous elevator incident.
Of course sometimes shit goes down when there’s a billion dollars in the elevator. But sometimes, just sometimes, the security footage of that shit gets seen by the entire world, and a simple trip down to ground level descends so much further. The elevator incident at the 2014 Met Gala, in which Solange got into a physical altercation with Jay Z over allegedly getting too close to designer Rachel Roy, was a startling reveal: maybe America’s most polished couple might have their issues, too.
“Hold Up” would be that awkward walk out of the elevator.
The excruciatingly calm expression on Bey’s face could not better encapsulate the feelings that were most likely about to boil over on “the night the lemon was squeezed.” She might not have had a baseball bat in her hand at the time, but there’s no telling what was smashed at the Carter household that night.
“Don’t Hurt Yourself”: The “On the Run” tour begins.
Following what went down at the Met Gala, the OTR tour was plagued with rumors from the get-go. These culminated when Page Six reported the couple was staying in separate hotels and meeting with four different lawyers in an attempt to officially mediate their differences while simultaneously on a tour that pivoted on the appearance of marital strength.
“Sorry”: The lyric change heard round the world.
Beyoncé notoriously keeps her concerts choreographed to a T, with not much room for improvisation—which made it all the more surprising when she altered the lyrics to “Resentment” during the OTR stop in Cincinnati. She changed “been riding with you for six years” to the 12 years her and Jay had been together at that point, and swapping out the word “mistress” for “wack bitch” was nuanced enough to get her point across. No apologies here.
“6 Inch”: Beyoncé goes apartment hunting?
In July, Bey was allegedly spotted searching for a new apartment in Manhattan without Jay. No better way to assert the stacks you’ve got than a sleek $21.5 million Chelsea penthouse.
“Daddy Lessons”: Matthew Knowles offers his two cents.
Right during the height of the divorce rumors, papa Knowles chimed in to Houston radio station 104.1 to claim it was a publicity stunt to sell tickets for the tour. “Sometimes you have to ignite that tour…it’s called a Jedi mind trick!” he said.
“Love Drought”: A reconciliation is on the horizon.
This is where it gets more vague; in the timeline of LEMONADE, here’s the part that wasn’t really reported on, where Bey and Jay stepped aside from the rumors to repair their marriage in private. The “wack bitch” she shouted out during Cincinnati’s “Resentment” gets another name drop, but by this point, Beyoncé makes it clear that she’s history—”them old bitches so wack.”
“Sandcastles” is probably when they renewed their vows.
The pair were reported to have renewed their vows sometime around September of 2014, following the end of the “On The Run” tour, as a means of starting again on a clean slate. The beach wedding—hence, sandcastles—preceded their second honeymoon, a cruise around Italy.
“Forward”: The Carters move to L.A.
In February 2015, the family left New York behind in favor of some sunnier new digs in California.
“Freedom”: The liberation.
We’re imagining it was sometime after the move to L.A. that Beyoncé began to feel the liberation that permeates “Freedom.” Also around this time? Kendrick Lamar dropped To Pimp a Butterfly.
“All Night”: Beyoncé serenades Jay.
Coinciding with their anniversary, Tidal dropped an exclusive Bey track on April 4, 2015. “I don’t have a reason to cry, and I have every reason to smile,” she sang to Jay in the intimate home video.