Making Lemonade: Beyoncé, Rachel Roy, Jay Z, Damon Dash and a Whole Bunch of Uncomfortable History

No one sort-of confirms a conspiracy theory like Beyoncé, whose latest album has set the Internet ablaze

By Natalie Finn Apr 25, 2016 8:22 PMTags
Beyonce, Jay-Z, Damon Dash, BeyonceGetty Images

Nobody sort-of-confirms a conspiracy theory like Beyoncé.

On Saturday night, the artist dropped Lemonade, not exactly a surprise but still the allegorical culmination of who knows how many years' worth of personal reflection seemingly spurred by a lover's unfaithfulness.

While Beyoncé didn't name names (other than Becky, that is), it didn't take a metal detector to mine her latest opus for autobiographical treasure. And mere moments after the Grammy winner's sixth studio album had made its way into the world, pressing question marks flooded Twitter.

Most pressing of all being, is "Becky with the good hair" name-checked on the song "Sorry" actually fashionista Rachel Roy?

Beyoncé & Jay Z's On the Run Tour

Not long afterward, Roy didn't just fan the flames, but rather napalmed the Internet with an Instagram seemingly outing herself as the object of Beyoncé's ire.

"Good hair don't care, but we will take good lighting, for selfies, or self truths, always. live in the light #nodramaqueens," Roy, who's also the ex-wife of Jay Z's former business partner Damon Dash, captioned a post that, alas, is no longer up.

She may as well have left the screen door open during pollen season because... cue the 'hive.

Roy followed up Sunday with the tweet, "I respect love, marriages, families and strength. What shouldn't be tolerated by anyone, no matter what, is bullying, of any kind." She has since taken a powder from social media and even canceled an upcoming event, citing a "personal emergency."

Does a reckoning count?

But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's take a trip back—way, way back–to examine why hardcore and armchair Beyonce fans (plus a few misguided Rachael Ray enthusiasts) had their suspicions right off the bat as to who "Becky" is and then look at how Beyoncé's most personal work yet tries and convicts but still shows mercy to the guilty.

Tangling With Beyoncé Gets You Nowhere, So Why Would Anyone Even Try at This Point?

A little background...

1996: Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, Damon "Dame" Dash and Kareem Biggs co-found Roc-A-Fella Records.

1999: Dash starts dating Aaliyah and they remain together until her tragic death in a plane crash in August 2001. Jay and Dash found the Rocawear clothing line.

2000: Jay starts dating Destiny's Child singer Beyoncé, who would later tell Oprah Winfrey that she and her future husband spent a year and a half chatting on the phone before becoming more than friends. Bey joined Jay on The Blueprint 2.1's hit single "03 Bonnie & Clyde" and they've been outwardly inseparable ever since.

2004: Def Jam Recordings buys Roc-A-Fella and Jay becomes president of Def Jam, leading to a notorious falling-out between him, Dash and Biggs. Though much was said in the day about how acrimonious the split was, Dash tried to put that impression of things to rest on the Combat Jack podcast in 2013.

"Things never really got f--ked up; it just got over," he said, per MTV News. "Me and Jay wasn't never arguing, me and Jay never was beefin', it was just over—and Roc-A-Fella didn't exist anymore." Dash did, however, add, "I thought the way Jay carried things was a betrayal to the company. I just felt like Roc-A-Fella should exist, like Cash Money still exists, like Bad Boy still exists, like every other label still exists."

About his former business partner and "Big Pimpin'" pal acting the industry tough guy, he said, "I don't think it's an issue with him. I just think we took different paths, period. I'm proud of everything that he's done, and I'm proud of everything that I've done since then."

Johnny Nunez/WireImage

The Romantics...

2005: Dash marries Rachel Roy, once the creative director of the women's and children's division of Rocawear who launched her own collection in 2004. They go on to have two daughters together.

2008: Jay Z marries Beyoncé.

Hal Horowitz/WireImage

The Plot Thickens...

2009: Roy files for divorce, with a source telling the New York Daily News that Dash had "nothing left," financially.

Roy moves on with her fashion career, launching a jewelry line and THE RACHEL Rachel Roy collection. She remains a constant on the New York scene, making guest-judging appearances on Project Runway and pushing her brand.

Beyoncé proceeds with the process of becoming BEYONCÉ (and Sasha Fierce), and in 2010 she's nominated for 10 Grammys, winning six, including Song of the Year for "Single Ladies."

Larry Busacca/Getty Image

All the Single & Married Ladies...

As the years go by, relations do not thaw between Jay and Dash, but life throws their ladies past and present into the same orbit. For instance, Beyoncé sat just five chairs away from Roy during New York Fashion Week in September 2011, the singer with sister Solange Knowles and Roy, also a friend of Solange's, kibitzing with Kim Kardashian.

Fast Forward to May 2014...

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Just a few short months after Bey and Jay slayed their show-opening performance of "Drunk in Love" at the Grammys, in a night that will live in power couple infamy, Solange physically attacks Jay Z in an elevator at The Standard hotel in NYC where a Met Gala afterparty is underway.

Wait, hang on... What?!

What could possibly have made Solange crack like that, unless... Ohhhhhh. She was sticking up for her sister. For what, we could never be entirely sure, especially since the family closed ranks immediately and soon distracted us with their tight-knit fabulousness, but there was one obvious thread to follow.

"At the gala, Rachel was being flirtatious with Jay," a source exclusively told E! News a couple days later. "Once everyone was at the Boom Boom Room for the after-party, her flirtations were elevated." to speak?

"Beyoncé approached Rachel to let her know the behavior was disrespectful and she wanted her out of their lives for good," the source continued. "Solange came over to have her sister's back, and things got heated with her and Rachel. Jay said some disrespectful things to Beyoncé and Solange as the confrontation was going down. That's why all hell broke loose in the elevator and why Beyoncé just stood back and let Solange hit Jay."

Beyoncé & Jay-Z Romance Recap

Re-Enter Damon Dash...

"I am actually impressed with her independent spirit, she seems like a fighter," Roy's ex tweeted after the elevator brawl made headlines (thanks to someone at the hotel leaking the security footage to TMZ, which caused heads to roll at The Standard).

Dash then contributed his own interpretation of what happened in an interview with Hip Hop Motivation, shot in the kitchen of his Malibu home later that May. "I was laughing, that s--t was funny," he shrugged. "I mean, I wouldn't have handled it like that but I just thought it was funny 'cause, you know, Jay is the kinda guy, you know you don't see him movin' like that that much. So when he does move, if it's not, like, that cool lookin', then it's gonna be kicks. Also I feel like nobody teases Jay except me for some reason.

"It's just the first time I've seen people freely expressing themselves. What I'm really happy about is that when they were botherin' on me, saying I was broke and all that, there wasn't any Instagram. 'Cause I'm sure people would've been havin' mad-funny jokes."

Dash continued, "Jay has to worry about perception because corporately people pay him. So, you know, he really has to play that game. So I thought what was ironic about it was people got to see how he plays s--t off, and how something crazy can happen and then four seconds later, when there's cameras on, they act like there's nothing going on. That was interesting to see that and how good he is at it--but then it just kinda exposes, like how do you trust anything moving forward?"


That was the question on a lot of people's minds during the relatively brief period that ensued in which every move Beyoncé made was analyzed as to whether it was a precursor to divorce ("she's apartment-hunting alone!" "she's not smiling!") but ultimately enough togetherness with Jay, culminating in HBO televising the On the Run Tour special in September 2014, helped turn the headlines around.

Dash didn't seem to be speaking from an insider's perspective during that first interview, but he did comment on his ex's alleged connection to what went down in that elevator.

Suggesting that Jay Z may as well enjoy the attention, he countered, "If he was tryin' to holler at my wife, though, that's kinda f--ked up." Bursting into giggles, he continued, "But I don't think he's doin' that." He added, instantly more solemn, "That would be bad. That would be dark. That means he really has some resentment. But I would hope that wouldn't be the case."

Splash News

Well, yeah! Millions of people were hoping that "that wouldn't be the case."

But What Say Ye, Rachel...

Right after the elevator dust-up, Roy tweeted a link to her new summer line, along with "The Beach is better!" So maybe, as yesterday proved, the designer never met a controversy possibly related to her that she didn't like, because that, two years ago, was seemingly a reference to Jay Z's song "Beach Is Better."

Not one to stay out of the fray, eh, Rachel Roy?

Roy would attend Kim and Kanye West's wedding in Italy a few weeks later, while Beyoncé and Jay would not.

10 Juicy Lyrics From Beyoncé’s New Lemonade Album That Have Everyone Talking

"Middle fingers up, put them hands high," Beyoncé sings on "Sorry." "Wave it in his face, tell him, boy, bye. Tell him, boy, bye, middle fingers up. I ain't thinking 'bout you." And then Roy couldn't help but comment on the line, "He only want me when I'm not there. He better call Becky with the good hair."

"Becky" being only the tip of the iceberg, Lemonade had fans immediately wondering if the album was actually a Dear Jay note, a final, badass kiss-off to a husband who'd screwed up one too many times (never mind that it's streaming exclusively on Jay Z's Tidal service—yes, a huge coup for him, but it's not as if Bey isn't making bank from Tidal too).

Rather, Beyoncé's masterpiece wends its way from finger-pointing to forgiveness, the queen never losing sight of the high road even when she's knee-deep in the muck of calling a guy out for being a dog.

While Lemonade serves to put even more space between Beyoncé and mere mortals, her legend having ascended yet another rung on her way to being untouchable, this may also be her most relentlessly human album yet. Whether she's livid, fueled by rage and on a tear or trying to understand, focusing on the positive and vowing to give someone yet another chance, we totally get her on this.

"Show me your scars and I won't walk away...every promise don't work out that way," she sings on "Sandcastles"—a symbol if there ever was one for something that can be so easily washed away and yet built up again and again if you're that determined to keep the tower standing.

Celebrity Scandals