Taking a Seat at the Table

solange

A breakdown of the significance of Solange’s latest album

Four years after her buzz-worthy “True” EP, Solange has released her third studio album, “A Seat At The Table.” The multi-talented artist wrote, arranged and co-produced every track of this prolific piece of work. For assistance, she enlisted indie-rock vets David Andrew Sitek of TV on the Radio, Patrick Wimberly of Chairlift, and David Longstreth of the Dirty Projectors to sit alongside rap/soul pioneers Q-Tip, Questlove, and Raphael Saadiq. Inarguably, this fuse of creative energies is why the album skyrocketed to #1 within a couple days of its release and has had the entire Internet bustling ever since.

“A Seat At The Table” opens with “Rise”, a gentle reminder to self-evaluate and to prepare for whatever is to come. Tracks like “Weary”, “Cranes in the Sky”, “Mad” and “Borderline” push listeners to practice self-love, to live consciously, and to strive for total liberation. While tracks like “F.U.B.U.” make it abundantly clear that her focal audience is the Black community.

Knowles unapologetically affirms:
All my n*ggas in the whole wide world
Made this song to make it all y’all’s turn
For us, this sh*t is for us
Some sh*t is a must
This sh*t is for us

No doubt, the lyrics are stirring, but what may be even more powerful are the album’s eight interludes which feature Solange’s parents Tina and Mathew Knowles, and rap music mogul Master P. Tina takes on the backlash of being pro-Black in a society that incessantly tries to negate injustices in the Black community by declaring “All Lives Matter”. Concurringly, with personal tales of integration and racism, Mathew reminds us of the haunting parallels of the present-day and the 1960s Jim Crow era. Still, in tandem, Master P highlights the struggles of growing up in poverty and striving to succeed in an industry dominated by wealthy whites.

In “Pedestals”, which focuses on overcoming and expressing pain, he concludes: “Black kids have to figure it out! We don’t have rehabs to go to. You have to rehab yourself. But for us, you can’t pull the plug on us and tell us it’s over, not me.”

Ultimately, beyond the melodic productions and soulful crooning, “A Seat At The Table” calls for conversation. It is leeway for focused, conducive dialogue. Dialogue that focuses first on the personal I: How am I viewed by society? When and how do I care for myself? And then on the collective we: How are we viewed by society? When and how do we care for ourselves? This type of questioning nudges us to seek, as Solange did, advice and testimony from our elders. It demands we take a seat at the table.

*****This article was previously published on The Odyssey

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