Photo Source: Stereogum
In the interlude of “For Us By Us”, Master P, Solange’s family friend, says “if you don't understand my record, you don't understand me, so this is not for you”, and this resonates fully in Solange’s latest album A Seat At the Table. With 22 tracks, ranging from neo-soul, alternative r&b, funk, and more, first time listeners of Solange or simply these genres, might feel it to be a weird or off-putting album to listen to, but I encourage everyone to take a second and third listen to fully understand Solange and the messages she delivers.
For the past few years, Solange has been hard at work creating A Seat at the Table, and it is apparent looking at the length she went to fulfill this album on her own terms. Every single track on this album is composed, written, and produced by Solange herself. Through lyrics and composition, Solange delves mainly into racism, black identity, depression, self care and anger. For this album, she also co-directed the music videos for her latest two singles, “Don’t Touch My Hair” and “Cranes in the Sky” and released a book filled with the album’s lyrics and stills from the music videos.
This album, lyrics-wise, takes the listener through a vivid and emotional journey. Solange covers dealing with black identity and racism in songs like “Weary”, “Mad”, and “Don't Touch My Hair”, with interludes featuring people who are close to her, like her parents Tina and Michael Knowles. Through compelling and thoughtful lyrics, Knowles presents how hard she has tried to come to terms with the reality black people face. In a white supremacist world, black culture and black people are taken for granted, and that saddens and angers her, and rightfully so. Her lyrics speak to the black people of the world in despair, in rage, and in sorrow in ways that many could never word so beautifully. Those of us who are aggravated, tired and upset with the harsh reality black people face know that these emotions can be exhausting, and Solange reminds us simply in “Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)” that we are allowed to create safe spaces and forget about reality for a while.
Solange’s songs don't only resonate with the black community, but motivate them as well. In the last four tracks of the album, Solange motivates her people to let go of those who aren't in solidarity with the black community and to prepare for a battle we will win. She stirs hope in the hearts of those who relate to this album, and has Master P send us off as we're the “Chosen Ones”.
As Master P says in “The Glory Is In You”, “as long you find peace in what you doing then you successful,” and whether or not you enjoyed this album, Solange has found her peace. After releasing this record, she tweeted that she “felt like a better human” which brings so much power and significance to this already carefully crafted and wonderful record. Through her third record, Solange cooks a batch of beautifully crafted songs, and then invites us to the table to eat and take part in the meal she has prepared. So, take a seat and dig in!
Solange. A Seat at the Table. Saint Records. 2016.