Solange recently broke the internet in her own way with the release of her fourth album, A Seat at the Table. Everyday, Solange is declaring that she does not have to prove that she is more than Beyonce’s little sister, allowing the music to speak for itself. This politically inclined, synthy, and melodic EP only further cements this idea.
In recent years, Solange has become notable for not only her vocals but her proclivity for being a defender of black people, black culture and the black experience and this impassioned activism is what her newest work revolves around. In A Seat at the Table, Solange discusses all that is beautiful and tragic about being Black in America. Where other albums with pro-Black sensitivities such as Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly, are riotous in their expression of black pain and tribulation, Solange takes her listener on a more melodic yet purposeful journey. She is not loudly voicing grievances but rather describing the intersectionality of blackness and the importance of the culture. All of this is accentuated by sumptuous production and awe inspiring lyrics.
This Solange album is high key insane
— Joe Budden (@JoeBudden) October 1, 2016
In the opening track, “Rise” which was inspired by police brutality and the protest in Ferguson, Solange serenades “Fall in your ways so you can crumble/Fall in your ways so you can sleep at night/Fall in your ways so you can rise.” These lines set the tone for the album. It tells the listener that she will be journeying with them on the road of black discovery, voicing both failure, reconstruction and triumph. She is infinitely successful in this endeavor. She details the lows in micro-aggressions on “Don’t Touch My Hair” and reaches a celebratory climax on the jazzy track “F.U.B.U”, in which she loudly proclaims “This sh*t is for us/All my ni**as let the world know/Play this song and sing it on your terms.” This serves as the album’s thesis — an imploring declaration of a work that is by us and for us. An urging for us to release ourselves from assimilation and to live on our own terms.
Solange’s new album is a mood.
Solange’s new album is a vibe.
Solange’s new album is unapologetically black and it was necessary.
— Kodak Kaepernick (@DrTGIF) September 30, 2016
Her astute observations about the black experience are accentuated by interludes filled with commentary made by her mother, father and even Master P. These interludes discuss the ideas of mental slavery and pro-blackness not equating to anti-whiteness. Solange takes on the spirited clap back that we all know and love — an unapologetic lesson to those who remain blind to the struggle.
Solange, like the black community which inspired her, is not asking for a seat at the table, she is also not taking one, but merely asserting herself enough that people know that she deserves one.