I was asked not too long ago how I feel, as a young person, about being Black in America. The response that lives on the tip of my tongue and rests heavy on my heart was, and is, that I feel like I’m in a constant state of grief. Scrolling through social media only to find another black body slain in the street has become the new normal. Though it always existed, it’s being filmed now and played on a loop. That in itself is traumatizing and numbing. Just as I was settling into distracting myself from these daily horrors by keeping busy, Solange started dropping breadcrumbs on her social media platforms. Teasing visuals and inviting people to sign up for a surprise. I visited her website and signed up thinking surely of her thousands of fans I could be one of the lucky 86 people she selects for this surprise (a hard copy of an accompanying book of poetry written by Solange that features photography and original compositions). I really thought that. On her website there was a video of two guys dancing a two-step in what looked like a cafeteria. I watched the entire video and smiled. There were no nasty comments to read, no distracting advertisements, just two people dancing. That felt good. A few days later at a moment when I needed it most, Solange sat me down at her (metaphorical) table, parted my hair, and oiled my scalp with her music. That is the best way I can describe the experience of her new album “A Seat at the Table.”
It had been eight years since her last studio album and eight years since I fell in love with ethereal melodies of her song Cosmic Journey that featured Bilal. Not only did this album capture that ethereal retro sound that I love, the album also felt like the companion to my current experience in various aspects of my life. The project, on which she wrote, arranged, and co-produced each track, explores blackness, womanhood, self-care and everything else in between. The entire project, that included stories woven in between the tracks, felt like a good conversation with the tribe I’ve long searched for.
Solange expressed in an interview with FADER that, “Although I wanted the album to have those moments of grief, and being able to be angry and express rage, and trying to figure out how to cope in those moments, I also wanted it to make people feel empowered and [that] in the midst of all of this we can still dream, and uplift, and laugh like we always have.” Solange’s sound is timeless and she doesn’t waste a single lyric.
Solange doesn’t snatch edges, she oils scalps. Thank you for a seat at the table and thank you for the soul food.