LANDINGIN: Solange’s new album offers social critiques
Opinions Column: A Sophisticated Tho(ugh)t
This presidential election has been a source of hate and pain that cuts through every technological medium, from the television screen to our Facebook feeds. We have a presidential candidate who spits out anti-blackness and “blue lives matter” rhetoric and another who merely gives lips service for black votes. With the pile of unarmed and black people shot multiple times, choked to death and massacred in places of worship, how can we expect black folks to take a day off and get a therapist while having to pay their bills, pay their debts and survive in a world that economically and culturally strips them of their worth? These recent years brings forth to consciousness of the value of black lives in America.
Solange Knowles' third album, "A Seat At The Table" is both an unapologetic response to the racial transgressions in the United States and the ways in which honesty and acknowledgement of these resulting pains can be the start of healing. When it seems like all things are out of control, Knowles asserts the need for validating one’s suffering in her track “Weary,” which documents the exhaustion black and brown bodies face, “I’m weary of the ways of the world.” She ends the track with the title of a piece she published back in early September on her website, Saint Heron, called “And do you belong? I do.” This track serves as a reflection of her experience of aggression from fellow-concert goers throwing limes at her family at a Kraftwerk concert, where she felt her family’s presence was questioned in a predominately white space. It ends with a statement that despite these aggressions, dancing with her family at the concert is her form of payback, “Jamming the hell out with the rhythm our ancestors blessed upon us saying … we belong. We belong. We belong. We built this.” In turn, she fuses her experiences and transformed them into "A Seat at the Table," a 21-track album, that serves as a metaphorical table filled with guests of honest conversations and musical verses. The album becomes the table where the burdens of black people in America are unloaded and unpacked.
The most crucial interlude in the album is an interview with Master P, the No Limits Records founder who started his way from the projects of New Orleans to the Fortune “40 Under 40" list, as a testament to how monumental it is to have a black owned company and how important it is to create safe spaces and art for ourselves, as people of color. It showed the importance of self-worth and black excellence. This serves as an introduction to the anthem-like track “F.U.B.U.” with an opening lyric “ All my n****s in the whole wide world/this shit is for us,” which expresses the intention of this whole album as healing music for those who resonate with the black experience and anti-blackness in the United States and the rest of the world. In this track, she emphasizes the need for community and to gather at the table as part of taking care of each other. She extends this need as part of self-care and healing in today’s socio-political climate. She emphasizes letting our capacity for love to become a source of power for healing. A self-care for one’s self and community that is necessary for the path to freedom and liberation.
Solange continues on the tradition of woke music of the 2010s by black musicians such as D’Angelo’s "Black Messiah," Kendrick Lamar’s "To Pimp a Butterfly," and Beyonce’s "Lemonade," centering on self-love and addressing contemporary black lives’ issues. With the rise of fascism and rampant capitalism, the present state of the United States and the rest of the world seem bleak, but there’s something about music that addresses these issues as personal and political that sheds light to how we can collectively heal our way through pain with honest soulful music. Scoring, a No. 1 Album on Billboard 200 Chart, it shows not just musical excellence, but also how more people are ready to take a seat at the table to get these honest conversations about the intersections of race, gender and class going.
Rae Landingin is a School of Arts and Sciences senior majoring in journalism and media studies with minors in art history and digital, communication, information and media. Her column, “A Sophisticated Tho(ugh)t,” runs on alternate Tuesdays.
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