TAKING MY SEAT AT THE TABLE – AN INVITATION FROM SOLANGE KNOWLES
TAKING MY SEAT AT THE TABLE - AN INVITATION FROM SOLANGE KNWOLES
Live your magic
I’ve always liked Solange. There is something very admirable, and quite frankly, enviable, about people who are at ease with themselves. People who wear their individuality unabashedly. People who aren’t too afraid to call you out on your bullsh*t. And Solange is one of those people. She doesn’t filter her thoughts to be more palpable. She says what she feels and means what she says. And from my observation, whether she’s rocking her untamed ‘fro at the Met Gala or she’s having a Southern Gospel Revival-themed birthday party in New Orleans or she’s speaking out on Twitter against systematic oppression, at the crux of all of Solange’s public expressions is the simple and resounding proclamation: I am unequivocally and irrefutably proud to be black.
Eight years since the release of her last studio album, Solange has had a lot of time to grow into artistry and womanhood, and her growth in both regards are every evident on A Seat at the Table (“ASATT”). The album itself took four years from conception to creation and it was certainly well worth the wait. If anything, it couldn’t be more punctual. At a time when it feels almost like everything about being Black in under siege, Solange knows exactly what say. It’s been a month now since the release of ASATT and for the past month, I’ve listened to the album over and over, each time with new appreciation and reverence. Each poignant lyric evoking fresh emotion; each song a reassurance that I am not alone.
"I am unequivocally and irrefutably proud to be black"
My favourite song on the album is Cranes in the Sky. The arrangement of the song, the depth of the lyrics, the honesty of Solange’s delivery and the pureness of her voice is...gold. Pure gold. Haven’t we all felt like the universe is conspiring against us? Like every move we make is a wrong turn, like there’s no easy ‘out’ and no quick fix. She captures that feeling of being utterly and completely worn by those obstacles that life sometimes throws and that resignation to just going through those tough moments and waiting to come out the other side unscathed. A feeling I know all too well.
Perhaps, some of the most powerful moments on the album are the spoken interludes. Her father, Matthew Knowles speaks of being spat on as a child growing up in segregated America and the anger her harboured for years. Her mother, Tina Knowles speaks of her frustration with the oppression of black pride and the perception that being pro-black is anti-white. Of course, we know that Matthew and Tina Knowles are also parents to arguably the most famous artist in the current popular landscape, and it is interesting to see the influences of their parents in both Solange’s and Beyonce’s artistic expression and pro-Black affirmations.
"We will take what’s ours, we won’t wait for it to be handed to us"
ASATT is more than a body of work. It is more than just melodies and lyrics and songs. It is a conduit for women of colour everywhere who have felt misunderstood. Who’ve felt misrepresented. Who’ve felt like there is no place for us. When she sings “Don’t touch my hair/When it’s the feelings I wear” we don’t just hear it. We feel it. In the most literal sense, every black woman can relate to the intrusive curiosity that our hair often elicits. The questions of “Can I touch it?” or “Is it real?” But on a deeper and, perhaps, more intrinsic level is the feeling that we will take our place. We will take what’s ours, we won’t wait for it to be handed to us. So when Solange sings, “This hair is mine” and “This here is mine”, we are singing, wholeheartedly, right along with her.
On ASATT, Solange bares it all and in typical fashion she’s not out to appease critics or tip-toe around sensitive subjects. She’s not trying to make everyone feel comfortable. She’s just saying what we’ve all been thinking. On F.U.B.U. she sings, “Don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along/Just be glad you got the whole wide world/This us/This sh*t is from us”. I feel you, Solange.
Alicia is a full-time writer/blogger and aspiring multi-hyphenate. Born in Toronto and raised in Jamaica, she now calls Montreal home. With a background in Broadcast-Journalism and a passion for inspiring through her writing, Alicia enjoys writing and creating content for the millennial woman. You can read more of her work at www.aluestory.com.