Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Solange Knowles has blessed us...

 ...with her latest album "A Seat at The Table". The announcement of it's release came along with a total relaunch of her website and even a giveaway for fans. The website solangemusic.com is the perfect simplistic look at all things Solange. Many people know Solange Knowles as Beyoncé's sister but she is one of my biggest inspirations, as one can probably infer based on past posts I've made about her, and she has just drastically effected the web and the airwaves with "A Seat at The Table" including the digital book of the same title available for viewing on her website, offering over 100 pages of all of the song lyrics from the album, stylized on the page in poetic forms, and various glamorous yet subtly beautiful photos of herself and other Black people.

     The album is a melodic dream offering the narrative of being Black in America right now. Sol-Angel presents the topics of mental health, black owned businesses, the use of the word "nigga", family and lineage, segregation, police brutality, racism overall but truly who we are, what we have done and what we can do as Black people. With songs like "Rise" "Weary" and "Cranes in The Sky" she addresses the overwhelming issues or struggles with being Black in America and the state of the world today from a subtle, personal, and emotionally transparent standpoint. This is still Solange's voice and Solange's story, yet it is all of our stories, all of our narratives and that is what a beautiful piece of art is and does. Your art is working when you can spread love in a way where it seems you are putting yourself and all of your flaws and pain along with happiness out into the world for consumption. The songs are strung together with a number of interludes including several accounts from the rapper Master P, a narrative from Solange's father, and a snippet from her mother. To include the voices, feelings, and ideologies of her parents is a pure representation of the Black experience. Often all we have is the fact that our parents, their parents, and so on have fought for us to be here and we have to give thanks that we are here. At times it feels that our family is all we have and it is the struggles of our ancestors that keep us going now. As many say, if you don't know where you come from, you won't know where you are going. Master P is an icon, especially in the south, he is most known for, and also reflects on this fact in the interludes, starting his rap career as his own business. Instead of waiting for a record lable to recognize and sign him he started recording his own music and selling his own music out of the trunk of his car. The use of his voice and his narrative is a clever way to add an image and a "voice of God" to the grand idea of Black resilience, resistance, and prevalence.

"If you don't understand my record 
you don't understand me, so this is not for you"
Master P.

    The very title "A Seat at the Table" is a considerably cliche allusion to the Black experience in America. In the Post-Slavery south segregation was the norm and Jim-Crow was the law. Often Black people still worked for Whites as maids and house-help, and were literally not allowed at seat at the dinner table. This title could also derive from the very well known Langston Hughes poem "I, Too" in which he declares "I, too, am America."
     One of the most stand-out tracks on "A Seat At the Table" is "F.U.B.U.". FUBU the name of a clothing line founded by LL Cool J during the early 2000's is an acronym for "For Us, By Us" literally stating that the clothing was created for Black people by Black people. Solange presents the same exact sentiment on the track by the same name. She addresses trouble with racial profiling and racism as a whole Black people face everyday as she sings "All my niggas in the whole while world-- this shit is for us". She also states "Don't be mad you can't sing along, just be glad you got the whole wide world" addressing white people, the fact that white people can not sing along with this song because of the use of the word nigga, and white privilege. The song "Don't Touch My Hair" also offers the same kind of summation of a race related issue and the big picture.

    Sunday Night Sol-Angel surprised us once again with two brand new videos. One for "Cranes in The Sky" and the other for  "Don't Touch my Hair". Both offering the stunning, breath-taking imagery we saw in the photographs in the digital book as well as subtle yet notably clever camera movement.

     Comparisons to "Lemonade", the album equipped with a short film of music videos strung together, released by Solange's Big Sis in April are already to be expected no matter what kind of album Solange could have made. But as far as being magnificent representations of Black pride, Black love and Black power these are both exceptional projects. Especially with positive and encouraging images of Black women and Black Girl Magic. Solange's music always pulls from traditionally R&B with an alternative pop sound and even beats that have a late 80's early 90's feel, as usual Solange stayed true to herself.

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