AN ODE TO SOLANGE
Let me take a seat. Honestly, I had to take several. Solange came through with the damn thang, exuding black girl magic from start to finish. A Seat at the Table changed my life, it healed me; it was exactly what I've been needing.
Since I can remember, music has been engrained into my healing process. Whether it was Paramore and Imogen Heap back in my preteen days, Gospel on my way to church or Classical music for when I needed to escape. A Seat at the Table eased right into my spirit. Every lyric felt as thoughthey were somehow crept out of the pages of my diary and the interludes were my conversations behind closed doors. This album was a voice, for the weary, joyful and ultimately chosen people.
“Cranes In the Sky” in particular has aided me. I cried on my first listening, which is heavy because I don't release my emotion in that way too often. I truly felt as though I heard myself, the echoes of my own feelings rang so damn loud. But that's when it hit me, and gave me a bit of consolation; Solange is grown, married with a husband and child. I'm just now getting my feet wet here in adulthood, at a crucial age where its easy to get caught up in your experience and to feel as though the community that you'd like to have isn't always present. Yet, our plight and journey is so universal.
“I tried to drink it away. I tried to put one in the air. I tried to dance it away. I tried to change it with my hair.”
This self-medication process that Solange sings about is all too familiar, and streamlines itself throughout the course of the record. I'll be the first to admit that I've done several of those things to get by. Isn't it strange though how that seems to be our narrative across the board? As I say we, I reference women, people of color. We are plagued with so much on a daily basis that activities such as those have a grave affect on our perception and how we cope. We as a people are going through a shift and it's so apparent in everything that we do. This album was right on time. Her last album, “True” was dropped in 2012, with the “Saint Heron” compilation album releasing the following year. That is also where we got a small taste of what we'd be graced with today, as it was in that album that she featured Sampha and Kelela's work.
“Don't Touch My Hair” is self explanatory at first glance but furthers the notion that not only is our hair a physical extension of our persona, but also an ethereal presence that is a part of our being; a divine mark of our beauty and magic. Not to mention how Sampha's voice gives harmony with Solo, reminiscent of an angel whisper.
“Mad” opened up a new can of worms, as I've listened to this several times and extend an applause to Solange for her precision to go ahead to choose Lil Wayne for this record. The title may be ironically applicable for his current state within the music industry, as he's been having issues with Cash Money Records for some time. Having all that going on in addition to his discussion of suicide, changed the dialogue of the song giving it a deeper message than what may have been initially perceived. It set the table for a much needed conversation; mental health. A theme that serves as a sternum to our struggle, whether it may be consciously or subconsciously done. I was happy to hear it. It was a confrontation to the stereotype and a coin flip to the appearance that we're always “angry”.
What I seemed to have enjoyed the most was Master P's presence on the album. It really crowns this body of work and all of its regality. Whether it was the discussion of the commodification of our worth, our own definition of success or our overall plight and rise to triumph as a people. After listening my cup had overflowed with truth. Our mere existence for so long has been bartered, bought and sold on a daily basis. Our melanin has so much attached, yet as a people we continuously rise unencumbered.
A Seat at the Table is groundbreaking, and did I forget to mention – Number One in the COUNTRY. Let that tea brew for the haters. The growth of Solange is so inspirational by way of her sound and ever so apparent creativity. It excites me to know that eventually there will be more. (As I will desire in time, because I've been running this music into the damn ground.) But thank you Solo <3. This album has given me a source of refuge and feeling of solace that I will reference and carry with me for years to come.
peace & hair-grease y'all.
(image credit: mydamnblog.com)