I had to clean my room, light some candles, and burn some incense before getting into this one.
Solange released her latest album, ‘A Seat At The Table,’ after teasing us for a week leading up to its debut with beautiful word maps and stunning photography just beaming with Black girl pride.
From what we know of Solange—her ‘dare to be different’ musical taste and futuristic post-modern style–there was no doubt that something magical was about to happen.
Solange stans knew what was coming, being long-time connoisseurs of her lyrics and sound from EPs ‘Sol-Angel’ to ‘True.’ But to those who kept Solange in Beyonce’s shadow as the ‘artsy, eclectic little sister who isn’t afraid to kick Jay-Z’s ass,’ we held our breath.
Friday afternoon when her fourth studio album dropped surreptitiously, it was like this album was our collective exhale.
Cheers to the weekend.
The 21-track project weaves a Black songbird’s tale of identity, pride and authenticity. The project opens with ‘Rise’–a call to action, no doubt, and culminates with the trumpet-heavy spoken word track ‘The Chosen Ones,’ a mobilizing tribute to the progress of our ancestors.
‘We came here as slaves, and going out as royalty.’
Interwoven in the album are interludes featuring her parent’s unapologetic Blackness. From Tina Knowles’ questioning of why ‘Black pride’ is positioned as ‘anti-white’, to her father’s tales of racism, segregation and discrimination as a young boy.
“I was angry for many years,” Matthew Knowles explains.
We’ve all been angry for many years, and Solange manages to capture that anger in a bottle and let its contents seep out slowly, track by track, providing space for it to be honored and cultivated to grow something new.
The release of pain was kicked off with lyrics of defiance on her track ‘F.U.B.U,’ an ode to the popular 90s apparel. Pivoting off of the acronym of the brand, Solo reminds Black folks that, yea, this shit is for us.
Track 6, ‘Mad,’ is a collab between Solange and Lil Wayne, where he brazenly raps about popping Xanax and his suicide attempt. ‘Don’t Touch My Hair,’ transforms our cry as Black women to not have people ‘othering’ us with scalp grabs, into a battle mantra of self ownership with a heavy resounding backbeat.
A part of that ownership comes the knowledge of your worth, as Master P tells the story of his record label’s humble beginnings in the interlude for ‘For Us By Us’. The New Orleans native explains that when White people valued his company at $1 million dollars, he knew it was worth much more. Turning down the offer, he started his own company. A Black owned company. The brief memoir, which weaves its way through most of the album, is a reminder of the importance of investing in ourselves and our communities.
As the album winds down, Solange boasts of our excess Black girl magic singing, “I got so much, you can have it,” while coddling us up with her dedication to self-care in ‘Borderline.’
If the year of the Knowles sisters began with Beyonce commanding us into ‘Formation’ with an energetic and honest show of strength and vulnerability, Solange’s project was the cool down of the exercise, the savasana to your yoga flow, the contemplation of your work-out as your heart beat slows, the endorphins kicks in and your breaths become steady once again.
It’s the part where you figure shit out.
This album provides a musical space to celebrate and figure it out as we straighten our crowns and take our seat at the table. Not because we humbly begged for it with heads bowed, but because we got what was owed.
As one of my girlfriends said as we anxiously exchanged our thoughts on the album via group chat. “Can we just lay in a coven of Black women and braid eachother’s hair while popping green beans, eating sweet potato pie and singing hymns?”
We can now. On vinyl at least.