I woke up last Saturday morning and scrolled my Twitter feed like I do on any other day and I saw so much buzz about Solange’s album. I had heard music from Solange before and was impressed so I decided to buy the album and give it a listen but what happened next I wasn’t prepared for. Since I bought “A Seat at the Table” I haven’t been able to turn it off. Not only is the album good, its great. With a co-producer like Raphael Saddiq and features like Lil Wayne, Sampha and The Dream the album along with its thoughtful lyrics is backed by musical powerhouses who are great in their own right. Solange spent most of the time working on the album in New Iberia, Louisiana, the beginning for a lot of her family, the foundation of her heritage. A Seat at the Table took me to a place deep inside Solange and ultimately took me deep inside myself. With old soul melodies that are like a time machine into the seventies, to the techno 80’s pop feel to the downright melodic tunes of her ballads Solange did not disappoint and just like that I was seated at the table before I even knew what was happening.
Rise was the perfect intro to this album. It was uplifting and softly brings you in for the thunder that is A Seat at the Table. The interludes narrated by none other than the New Orleans native and original hip-hop mogul Master P are not only breath taking but they are authentic and real. He narrates all of the interludes except for two and does not disappoint. Hearing Master P on the interludes reminded me of a 30 for 30 interview with your uncle who is conscious and knows a lot about life and is ready to drop some gems on you. Each interlude related to the song that was to come, talk of being pro black, not settling for less than what you are worth and some of the social injustices when it comes to the resiliency of black folks in this country and particularly the hood. Solange has always been clear on her stance on black love, natural hair and her love for the black community and it’s refreshing but not surprising to see that reflected in her art. There were two other interludes on this album that featured none other than Tina Lawson and Matthew Knowles (Solange’s parents), both speaking about their love for black culture and about the persecution of black people that has been seen first hand by her father as a young man. Miss Tina said, “…Pro black doesn’t mean anti white, the two don’t go together.” Her words spoke to the confusion in this country surrounding the newfound pride amongst black people in America. The album gave me so many emotions, I was filled with pride as a black woman, I fell in love with my hair again, and I relived my breakups and my bout with depression and anxiety all in one sitting. This album was not just appealing to my ears but it allowed me to feel raw emotions. A seat at the Table gave me much more than a new album in my ITunes library.
By far my favorite song on the album is Cranes in the Sky; whenever I listen to the album I always start it with this song. The first time I heard this song it felt like I was singing the words to myself. As someone who has suffered loss and also suffered from severe anxiety and depression I found myself transported to a place of remembrance. I thought back to those days when I tried everything I could to heal myself and it wasn’t until I realized that all these outside things wouldn’t fix the turmoil on the inside only then could I finally be free. She sang “ I ran it away, I cried it away, away, away…” Cranes in the Sky is one of the breakout songs on the album. Another banger is Where Do We Go; this song is like being stuck in a situation and having the realization of being stagnant and asking yourself Where Do We Go? With phrases like “ It used to nice…it used to be so nice…” that reflection on where you were and realizing that you aren’t going anywhere it was not only deep but also soothing. Can we talk about “Don’t Touch My Hair” often a phrase uttered by women of color because their exotic locs attract unwanted touching. The song spoke of hair as being bigger than the strands growing from your head. Going from don’t touch my hair to don’t touch my crown…my soul, adding spirituality and power in the beauty of black hair. With the natural hair movement taking off this song touches on a personal note for so many women of color reclaiming their identity one strand of hair at a time. Lastly a big stand out was F.U.B.U., a tribute to the once popular black owned clothing company that meant For Us By Us. With the impeccable jazz horns and bass in this song Solange serenades us with the frustration of black men and women navigating through the world and dealing with the day to day frustrations, from stop and frisks on your own front lawn to being questioned in spaces where you aren’t the majority. This song was a feel good, fist up record of empowerment, pride and power.
This record is filled with so many beautiful things, from the words being sung to the messages that are not hard to find but unapologetically transparent. From her words of black girl magic to the sentiment of the worth of the black man and woman in America the message is felt and it goes from my ears straight to my heart and my soul. This album speaks to the struggle and the plight of black women everywhere and their beauty and how they remain the undefeatable Phoenix in a world consumed by fire. Singing “Protect your magic/ they not gon get it from the get go/ don’t let…anybody steal your magic…” felt like a beautiful daily affirmation I needed to take with me to work, school and even to bed. Words to commit to memory and never forget. A Seat at the Table was an emotional gut punch of love, life, laughter, healing, beauty, pain, realization and revelation. A reminder to everyone who listens that you are special, that your pain is meant to be felt and overcome and most of all that there is beauty in the struggle of life and self discovery when you decide to rise. Long story short, I won’t be getting up from the table any time soon.