Lemonade is a concept album, where Beyoncé recounts a story of discovering and wrestling with her husband's infidelity. This is the second track, by which stage her suspicions have been aroused.
On this kiss-off, Beyoncé attests that no-one loves her husband like she does, so it would be unwise for Jay-Z to cheat on her.
Hold up, they don't love you like I love you
Slow down, they don't love you like I love you
Back up, they don't love you like I love you
Step down, they don't love you like I love you
The song was produced by Diplo of Major Lazer and Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. It was Koenig's first credit on a Beyoncé song.
In 2011, Diplo produced " End of Time
" on Beyoncé's 4
while her single "Run the World (Girls)
" sampled Major Lazer's "Pon de Floor." Diplo also co-produced the Lemonade
track "All Night."
The track includes interpolations from Soulja Boy's "Turn My Swag On
" ("I hop up out the bed, turn my swag on") and Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Maps
." It also samples the instrumental intro to Andy Williams's "Can't Get Used to Losing You."
Instead of directly sampling "Maps" chorus which goes, "Wait, they don't love you like I love you," Beyoncé alternately sings, "Hold up, they don't love you like I love you." It was Ezra Koenig who first thought of the change, tweeting the revised line on October 21, 2011.
Three years later, Keoenig was in a studio with Diplo, where they were working on a "Can't Get Used to Losing You" loop. Koenig wrote some lyrics based off his old tweet to go with it, which he intended to release as a Vampire Weekend song. Someone, however convinced him to send it to Beyoncé. Koenig said. "Beyoncé 100% made it her own, and I'm very glad to have been a part of it."
Psychedelic rock singer-songwriter Father John Misty (once of Fleet Foxes) wrote the first verse and refrain. Producer/composer Emile Haynie (Eminem, Kanye West, Ice Cube), singer-songwriter MNEK (of "Never Forget You
" fame) producer Onye Anyanwu and Brooklyn multimedia artist Melo-X also have writing credits.
Father John Misty recalled how Beyoncé came to record his demo:
"About a year and half ago, my friend Emile Haynie played Beyoncé some of my music, along with some tunes I've written for other people, back when she was looking for collaborators for the record…Pretty soon after they sent along the demo for 'Hold Up', which was just like a minute of the sample and the hook. I'm pretty sure they were just looking for lyrics, but I went crazy and recorded a verse melody and refrain too…
I was mostly kind of in the dark, my involvement with the record kind of ends with me just sending off the demo, it wasn't until she came to my Coachella set in 2015 and told me personally it had made the record that I really had anything concrete with which to convince my friends that I hadn't actually gone insane."
Speaking to Under The Radar
, Misty revealed that the best moment of 2015 was when he caught Beyoncé dancing to his set at Coachella. "The low point has been everything since," he added.
Co-writer Melo-X also sang backup vocals. He recalled to Pitchfork
: "I kind of put a bunch of ideas down. A bunch of harmonies, a bunch of different layers, and she kept a lot of that in. In the second chorus you can hear my vocals under hers coming in. It's cool that she kept that. I was just putting that there to create a vibe. I had like in my mind, I was thinking of Bob Marley and his backup singers, he had his wife, and how they would harmonize to a lot things that he did. So I took to that approach with the background vocals that I did."
The video shows Beyoncé gleefully smashing car windows and police surveillance cameras with a baseball bat all while maniacally asking: "What's worse, looking jealous or crazy?" The visual sequence draws heavily on Swiss video artist Pipilotti Rist's 1997 installation "Everything Is Over All."
Father John Misty commented that it finds it unbelievable, "when you consider how ridiculous my voice sounds on the demo," that his lyrics ended up "right between picking up the baseball bat and decapitating the fire hydrant."
Asked by HMV.com
how his contribution to the song came about, MNEK replied: "My publisher Jon Platt introduced us. She liked what I did and used it and sounded amazing doing it. I was a massive fan of Beyonce growing up so it was an absolute honor."
This won the award for Best Female Video at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards. It was one of eight wins for Beyoncé that night.
MNEK is one of 15 credited songwriters. He told BBC the track is essentially a Frankenstein's Monster, stitched together from dozens of demos.
"She played me the chorus," he said. "Then I came back here [to my studio] and recorded all the ideas I had for the song. Beyoncé snipped out the pieces she really liked and the end result was this really great, complete song."