There is a lot I would say to Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter if I ever got the chance. I would tell her that she is the single greatest artist of my generation and that it has been one of my life’s pleasures just to be her fan. I would tell her that her words have meant everything to me and how much I appreciate the time and painstaking effort she puts into those words. I would tell her that her music has made me feel stronger, braver and PROUD to be a black woman. I would tell her that she is not just an artist to me, she is a symbol of black excellence. Then, I would tell her that she deserved to win Album of the Year at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

At this point, there is no pretense. Adele is great. Everyone loves Adele. Don’t yell at me about how great Adele and 25 are. This is about Beyoncé. Adele knew it was about Beyoncé. Lemonade is Beyoncé’s feminist declaration. It is the album that silenced any of the critics who said Beyoncé wasn’t political enough or Beyoncé hadn’t stood up for the black community enough. Lainey has written multiple times about Beyoncé’s unwillingness to go off script. She doesn’t allow interviews anymore. She grants statements instead of conversations. Until last night, even though we’ve all been writing about it and talking about it for months, Beyoncé herself had not explained the inspiration behind Lemonade or articulated why she made it. In her acceptance speech for Best Urban Contemporary Album, Beyoncé finally told us, in her own words, what Lemonade means to her.

“We all experience pain and loss and often we become inaudible. My intention for the film and album was to create a body of work that will give a voice to our pain, our struggles, our darkness and our history. To confront issues that make us uncomfortable. It’s important to me to show images to my children that reflect their beauty so they can grow up in a world where they look in the mirror – first through their own families, as well as the news, the Super Bowl, The Olympics, The White House, and The Grammys, and see themselves. And have no doubt that they’re beautiful, intelligent, and capable.”

Reading that speech back is actually enraging. It’s an inspiring, perfect summation of Lemonade while also driving home the importance of representation but it’s also a glaring reminder that what happened at the Grammys last night is exactly what Beyoncé was speaking against in her speech. Lemonade was the best album of the year. Beyoncé delivered a masterpiece. And yet, SOMEHOW to the Grammys, the highest honour in music, it still wasn’t good enough. If the Recording Academy did anything last night, they proved that Frank Ocean, who refused to show up, was right: the big awards of the night are no longer relevant. While the show does still hold prestige, the top prizes they give are not reflective of the culture of the time. Beyoncé has only won ONE non-genre Grammy in her career. That was for Song of The Year for Single Ladies in 2010. So, Beyoncé’s Grammys are relegated to the R&B or “Urban Contemporary” categories. This would be OK, maybe, if she wasn’t f-cking BEYONCÉ. Adele won Beyoncé’s Grammy for Album of The Year for, as Duana texted me, “an album that Adele told us all night they basically had to bribe her to make.” Guys, can we be real for a second and admit that 25 isn’t even Adele’s best album!? Adele knew the whole night that she shouldn’t win so I appreciate that she recognized Beyoncé with such reverence, as she should.
Adele said this backstage after dedicating half of her speech to Bey’s brilliance.

“It felt like it was her time to win. What the f-ck does she have to do to win album of the year?”

Seriously. What does she have to do? A person of colour has not won Album of the Year since Herbie Hancock in 2008. For all of you who are going to email me about making this about race when it’s not, I honestly do not know how to look at a stat like that, look at what Beyoncé gave us and not conclude that there has to be a bigger issue here.

The woman is carrying holy twins in her goddamn belly and she produced a Grammys performance unlike anything anyone had ever seen before. THAT PERFORMANCE. There could be an essay about every frame. Beyoncé literally built a table full of beautiful black woman – as she sat seated at the head, both a leader and a comrade, the one who’ll potentially take the fall so that the rest can keep on going. I’m going to need a few days to process and read everything I can about the imagery and symbolism of the whole performance but can we take a moment to appreciate this?

We should all remember where we were when we watched that chair tip over with our Queen just straight chillin’ like the badass she is. I will never forget. The Grammys shouldn’t either because this is the last time Beyoncé is leaving her house for those fools.

Bey has to know she deserved the top honour last night but I can’t imagine how it must feel to put all that work in, recognize you are the best and watch someone else get rewarded for it. Actually, a lot of us can probably relate to that feeling. Some of us more than others. So, that’s why I would tell Beyoncé that she deserved it – just in case she let the Recording Academy get in her head and make her doubt, even in the slightest, that she is brilliant and worthy. 

You can watch the full performance here: