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Strange Fruit: Unpacking The Symbolism In Beyoncé's 'Lemonade'

This week, the music world bows down to its Queen, while saying a sad goodbye to its Prince. In this special hour-long episode of Strange Fruit, we talk about these two groundbreaking black artists — one who’s still building her musical empire, and one whose legacy is now complete.

You’ve read the think pieces and seen online commentators picking apart stories of infidelity and scandal in Beyoncé's visual album, "Lemonade." But our regular fruitcakes will know, we’re going deeper than that. To help, we've enlisted some of the Pleasure Ninjas, a group of black feminist scholars, cultural workers and activists.

Joan Morgan is an award-winning author and journalist who wrote "When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost," and coined the term hip-hop feminism. But what you might not know about her is that she's also a practitioner of Yoruba, an African religious tradition. And as it happens, "Lemonade" is chock full of Yoruba imagery. Morgan joins us to help us understand these symbols.

The album also included nods to the Black Lives Matter movement, and police violence against black citizens. We speak to Brittany Cooper and Treva Lindsey about what some of those images evoked for them.

And of course, the day after we recorded our last show, the world lost Prince - an icon not just because of his music, but for the way he redefined ideas about black masculinity and what it means to be sexually powerful. And despite the fact that he broke most gender norms (or maybe because of it!), the world loved him.

Chauncey DeVega is a political essayist, cultural critic, educator, and host of a podcast called The Chauncey DeVega Show. He wrote an article for Salon last week called “Prince was the weirdo we needed: On race, masculinity & the indelible legacy of a musical icon.” He joins us to talk about what Prince meant to all of us.

And in honor of National Honesty Day (April 30 — according to Wikipedia, at least), Doc tells the story of the best/worst lie she ever got caught in. And we ponder the question of whether it's possible to go an entire day without stretching the truth.

Laura is LPM's Director of Podcasts & Special Projects. Email Laura at lellis@lpm.org.

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