Ch. 6 – Accountability (Daddy Lessons)

“EMPTINESS” RECAP

Left, the camera zooms out from the burning house, emblematic of the curse; right, the camera continues to recede in the next shot, this time travelling backward through a Louisiana Bayou. These two shots help the viewer travel from the haunted house in chapter 5 back to Madewood Plantation for chapter 6.

CH. 6 – ACCOUNTABILITY

“I come from a lineage of broken male-female relationships, abuse of power, and mistrust. Only when I saw that clearly was I able to resolve those conflicts in my own relationships.”

Beyonce, Vogue Magazine September 2018

Left, the grounds of Madewood Plantation from the perspective of the master bedroom; right, two young Black girls, a symbol of the future, run up the stairs of the plantation house, a symbol of the past.

Left, two young Black girls playing with dolls on the bed; right, the hands of the girls fixing their dolls dress and jumping on a bed. They represent one of many generations of Black women quite literally overcoming the past by healing in this historical place.

A young girl watches Beyoncé’s beauty routine admiringly, and the spoken word implies a yearning to see herself in the same image.

New Orleans chef and activist Leah Chase, otherwise known as “The Queen of Creole Cuisine,” an iconic representation of the strength, resilience, and wisdom of generations of Black women who “cannot be contained.”

Continue reading “Ch. 6 – Accountability (Daddy Lessons)”

Ch. 5 – Emptiness (6 Inch)

“APATHY” RECAP

Beyoncé dancing with her girlfriends, claiming “I ain’t thinking about you.” These acts and symbols establish a reclamation of power and agency in the face of the Madewood Plantation, an “impossible Black place.”

The final shot of “Apathy,” a group of five women walking into the wilderness, naked, symbolizing both courage and vulnerability as Beyoncé embarks on a new path, “far away” from her husband.


CH. 5 – EMPTINESS

Beyoncé as Pomba Gira

Left, Beyoncé encircled in fire, adorned with a blood red dress, a metallic bib necklace, and a spiked, bejeweled headpiece; right, a depiction of the Afro Brazilian spirit, Pomba Gira. Followers of Brazilian religions Umbanda and Quimbanda call upon Pomba Gira to aid them in matters of love, sex, and vengeance.


The long hallway

After a black screen and the sound of a door unlocking, the camera enters this long, eerie hallway, centered on an ominous red light at the end of it. Perhaps symbolic of “the curse,” the heart of the legacy of slavery and its inter-generational wounds inflicted upon the identities and relationships of African Americans.

The “House of Slaves” on Goree, an island off the coast of Senegal, the site of “The Door of No Return.” This doorway, opening out the Atlantic Ocean, is observed today as a symbol of the final threshold enslaved Africans passed through before boarding slave ships embarking on the tortuous Middle Passage to the Americas.

President Barack Obama looks out the “Door of No Return” during a tour of the Maison des Esclaves Museum on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy). The site has also been visited by Pope John Paul II as well as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.

The camera dollies forward, giving the viewer a sense of compulsion and helplessness, drawn powerlessly forward toward this curse at the end of the tunnel.


Continue reading “Ch. 5 – Emptiness (6 Inch)”

Ch. 4 – Apathy (Sorry)

“ANGER” RECAP

Beyoncé unleashing her rage, reclaiming her agency, and demanding the respect of her partner through a series of boasts, threats, and ultimatums, culminating in a “final warning,” where she throws her wedding ring at the camera.


CH. 4 – APATHY

Two rows of Black women seated inside a school bus, swaying back and forth, their faces and bodies covered in Nigerian artist Laolu Senbanjo’s “The Sacred Art of the Ori.

Left, From NPR.org, members of the Washington Freedom Riders Committee prepare to leave New York for Washington, D.C., on May 30, 1961; right, from UC Berkley News, a Montgomery bus rides nearly empty as a result of the boycotts.

Overlaid with the line “Her God was listening,” a subtle suggestion that God is silent but present for Beyoncé’s suffering, one of many glimpses of hope for redemption.

Continue reading “Ch. 4 – Apathy (Sorry)”

Ch 2 – Denial (Hold Up)

“INTUITION” RECAP

Beyoncé in Chapter 1, with her hair covered: left, a hoodie in reference to Trayvon Martin and systemic injustice; right, a headwrap alluding to the the tignon laws of Louisiana, each implying her repressed state.


Fort Macomb: A Symbol of “the Curse” of Slavery

Fort Macomb, from Chapter 1, an actual relic of the American Civil War and a visual allusion to the West African castles of the slave trade. Left, a canted angle to create a sense of stress or disorientation; right, a wide landscape shot.

Left, Beyoncé tepidly approaching those ruins, which are again shot wide in landscape juxtaposed with a vast sky (right).


Beyoncé’s Leap of Faith

Beyoncé’s leap of faith is the destruction of the current self that’s required to resurrect into something new. Left, rack focus is used to only slightly obscure what looks like tears in her eyes, after which she symbolically removes her hood (center) and leaps (right). Notice her Christ-like pose as she falls.


CH. 2 – DENIAL

Left, Beyoncé doesn’t hit the ground, but rather falls into a large body of water, introducing the next chapter “Denial.” Right, Beyoncé sheds her clothes, revealing nude undergarment. Water is traditionally symbolic of life, rebirth, fertility, and spiritual cleansing.

Left, Beyoncé submerged in water is in direct contrast with her in a bathtub without water on “Intuition” (right).


The Flooded Bedroom

Left, Beyoncé swims into a bedroom furnished with New Orleans “Creole Style” furniture and finds herself sleeping in bed alone, seeming to represent her current role in her relationship: silent, still, and as she described, “less awake” (right).

Beyoncé opens her eyes, looks at her surroundings, and lets out a huge breath; she’s awake now, or, perhaps more accurately, she’s been reborn.

Continue reading “Ch 2 – Denial (Hold Up)”

Ch. 1 – Intuition (Pray You Catch Me)

THE ELEVATOR TAPE & ITS AFTERMATH

The infamous surveillance video, leaked by TMZ.

Saturday Night Live’s cold open sketch a week later, parodying JAY-Z (Jay Pharoah), Beyoncé (Maya Rudolph) and Solange (Sasheer Zamata) with their bodyguard (Kenan Thompson).

“We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.”

Exclusive statement to the Associated Press, released by the Knowles and Carter families

Tabloid speculation that persisted even after the couple’s press release attempting to dismiss the rumors.

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#LEMONADE 4.23 9PM ET | 6PM PT | HBO

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Beyoncé’s April 16th, 2016 Instagram post. In it, we hear Beyoncé ask, ¨What am I gonna do, love?¨ before the title card announcing its forthcoming HBO release.


LEMONADE’S OPENING MOMENTS: A PROLOGUE

“She wanted to show the historical impact of slavery on black love, and what it has done to the black family.”

Melina Matsoukas, one of Lemonade’s directors and Beyoncé’s longtime friend and collaborator

The opening shot of the film is followed by this black and white image of a chain filmed at a slave plantation in Louisiana, the first of many images that transport us back to America’s history of tortuous slavery. Low angle shots are used to emphasize power dynamics, and the extremity of the angle depicts the chain looming over the viewer, as if we’re the ones chained to the wall.

Fort Macomb, an intimidating Civil War era brick fortress that serves as a symbol throughout the film.

Left, a wide shot that demonstrates the fortress’s size and expanse; right, a canted angle gives viewers an implication of stress, intimidation, or uneasiness.

Beyoncé in front of the curtain on stage, which mimics a director addressing an audience before a performance. Like the fortress, behind the curtain is some truth to her story, and she is preparing us, and herself, for its reveal.

Continue reading “Ch. 1 – Intuition (Pray You Catch Me)”

Season 3 Now Live on Spotify!

Season 3 of Dissect begins today on Spotify!

This season we unpack the beautiful music of Frank Ocean. We’ll begin with a six episode mini-series on Ocean’s debut album Channel Orange followed by a full season on Blonde.

Listen to Dissect on Spotify and get episodes a week early plus exclusive access to bonus episodes and playlists.

New episodes will release every Tuesday. Spotify-exclusive bonus episodes will release Thursdays.

Listen now on Spotify.

Dissect is Back with Season 2!

We’re incredibly excited to be back for Season 2 of Dissect! This season, we dive deep into Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. With an episode dedicated to each song on the album, we’ll explore Kanye’s magnum opus on the underbelly of fame, celebrity, and power.

Listen now: Apple PodcastsStitcherGoogle Play, or search “Dissect” wherever your get your podcasts. Available on all major podcast apps.

Support Dissect on Patreon.

S1E20/21 – Mortal Man by Kendrick Lamar from To Pimp a Butterfly

Our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s final song “Mortal Man”.

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Part 1 examines the song “Mortal Man” while Part 2 dissects the conversation between Kendrick and 2Pac that concludes the album.

S1E15/16 – The Blacker the Berry by Kendrick Lamar

Our season long analysis of To Pimp a Butterfly by Kendrick Lamar continues with the album’s thirteenth track “The Blacker the Berry.”

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The song was the album’s second single and released amidst the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. It’s incredibly potent, packed with references to the historic oppression of the black community, race relations in contemporary American society, police brutality, the US penitentiary system, and the complexities of black identity, among many others. Continue reading “S1E15/16 – The Blacker the Berry by Kendrick Lamar”

S1E13 – How Much a Dollar Cost? by Kendrick Lamar from To Pimp a Butterfly

Our season long examination of Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly continues with the album’s eleventh track, “How Much a Dollar Cost?”

Listen now: iPhone, Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes

Plagued by Uncle Sam (the American Dream) and Lucy (temptation), Kendrick has stood at a metaphoric crossroads for most of the album, deciding whether to use or pimp his talent for good or evil. “How Much a Dollar Cost?” will force Kendrick’s hand. Continue reading “S1E13 – How Much a Dollar Cost? by Kendrick Lamar from To Pimp a Butterfly”