If 2016 is the year charged with race and politics, then Solange may just have provided the sound track. Casting another one of her black girl magic spells, Solo released her highly anticipated third album A Seat at the Table. And it has us feeling all the feels.
A love letter to the movement, Solange takes us on a journey through the pain and pride of the black experience in America.
Vintage funk, R&B and electronica blend smoothly and offers a sweet and easy-to-listen-to sound throughout the body of work. But don’t let the light and airy falsettos fool you, each track hits a nerve with honest and powerful lyrics. Weary, the second track, calls us to pay attention to the world and our placement in it as African Americans. An uncomfortable conversation many try to avoid. Sometimes it just feels better to shop, get high and/or booze- Cranes in the Sky (accompanied by stunning visuals) uncovers the vices we run to, to ease the pain.
Don’t Touch my Hair, hits close to home. With all the chatter going on about cultural appropriation, this track couldn’t come at more relevant time.
Solange isn’t sitting alone, she welcomes guests Q-tip (Borderline), BJ the Chicago Kid and The Dream (F.U.B.U.), among others to share in this breaking of bread, while dad, Mathew Knowles recalls his experience being one of the first black students in an all-white school (Interlude: Dad was Mad) . Mama Tina wasn’t left out either, chiming in with a response to the sometimes exhausting All Lives Matter rhetoric (Interlude: Tina Taught Me). Master P can be heard multiple times, reminiscing about his hustle from the streets of Nola to head of No Limit Records.
In the track Mad, Solange tackles the angry black woman stereotype. “Why you always gotta be so mad?” She is tired of explaining. Just turn your TV to any major news network and you’ll see, “I got a lot to be mad about.” Lil Wayne gets personal in the same track, revealing a suicide attempt and the isolating pain that fame has brought.
More than a “woe is me tale,” A Seat at the Table is about resilience, identity and pride. Despite the soulful feel of the album, Solo herself described it as her “punk moment.” Bold and unapologetic start to finish, I couldn’t agree more. But in case you needed a permission slip to be proud, one is provided in the stand out anthem F.U.B.U. in which she lets the world know this one is for us.
Watch the stunning visuals and listen to the full album below.
Cranes In The Sky
Don’t Touch My Hair
Listen to A Seat At The Table via spotify
Gaby Gruenbaum is the author of Stylebeet.com and currently lives in Seattle, Wa