“Formation” by Beyoncé
The timing of the release of Beyoncé’s “Formation” could easily qualify it as a black-powered song, thus contributing to the Black Lives Matter movement. Generally, it has served as a strong contribution to the conversation against police brutality/racist policing, but the lyrics are more personal to Beyoncé.
It almost sounds as if the singer reveals everything that really matters to her; from her roots, her womanhood, her fame, power, love life, and how she has worked hard to attain her status.
In the refrain, she first addresses her haters who keep associating her with the illuminati, and the paparazzi’s ravenous need to follow her all the time. Beyoncé shows off her flawless fashion sense but admits that she’s quite possessive of her husband, Jay Z, so she rocks his Roc necklaces.
She then digs down into her background where she talks about how proud she is to be black. Describing her Creole and Texas heritage, Beyoncé affirms that she is unwilling to refute her blackness because of her fame or money, but is rather embracing every part of it. She symbolizes baby hair, afros, and Jackson five nostrils with physical qualities that most blacks struggle with. She emphasizes and encourages other women not to compromise due to prevailing white standards of beauty.
The singer is also trying to explain that everything she has achieved is because she dreamt about it and worked very hard until she got it.
Beyoncé calls her ladies to get in formation because she’s proud of who she has become, and wants them to feel the same way. She urges them to unite and ends by telling them the best revenge is their paper, signifying money and power.
The video of the song, “Formation”, however gives more detail to its meaning and significance. It begins with the singer on top of a New Orleans Police car submerged in a flood, possibly the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A voice questions what happened to New Orleans, thus highlighting how the news about the hurricane did not get much attention since most of the victims were blacks.
Beyoncé’s daughter, Blue Ivy, pops up in the video with two other little girls with her afro hair, while the singer and her dancers rock a number of black hairstyles. She must have been promoting the concept of self-love, especially for people of black descent who are under pressure not to perceive their physical appearance as good enough.
Another scene that sends a strong message is the little black boy in the hoodie, dancing in front of a group of police officers in riot mode. He pauses to raise his hands in the air, and the policemen also do the same, signifying an end to racist policing. There’s also a graffiti which screams, “Stop shooting us”. This is probably the most significant as it clearly addresses what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about.