A Seat at the Table: Solange's Masterpiece

Rich and intensely personal, Solange’s third album, “A Seat At The Table” is full of life lessons. The album is more than a record about black survival in 2016. It is a combination of straight talk and refracted R&B for what she calls her “project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing."

The 21 track album has titles such as “F.U.B.U.,” “Mad,” “Don’t Touch My Hair” that telegraph the album’s powerful, political backbone and describes the racism that goes bone deep in the Black community across the world.

The album’s themes include rage, despair, and empowerment.

The album opens with a 90-second long track “Rise” released a year earlier.

Weary” and “Borderline (An Ode to Self-Care)” is a track filled with organs, guitar and bass and speaks about weariness and loneliness.

Interlude: The Glory Is in You” has the theme of finding self-peace.

Cranes in the Sky” is an upbeat track that speaks about attempts to alleviate the pain in alcohol, sex, music or even running away.

Mad“, featuring Lil Wayne, is a track about indignation and anger.

Don’t You Wait” contains elements of funk, drums and bass and contains a statement from Solange’s mother Tina Lawson.

Don’t Touch My Hair” comprises electronic and funk music and explores a common experience for African-American women. The interlude that follows speaks about worth and independence.

F.U.B.U.” is a nod to 90s fashion label For Us By Us. The following interlude has the message “Don’t let anybody steal your magic”.

Don’t Wish Me Well” contains elements of electronic and soul music.

Pedestals” also has a theme of self-care.

Scales” is a down-tempo track.

Guest spots from artists as diverse as Lil Wayne, Sampha, Tweet and Kelela only serve to amplify Solange’s fascinating voice.

In the days since its release, critics have praised A Seat at the Table for delivering messages of racial empowerment perfectly pitched to the #BlackLivesMatter moment.

The album’s layered voices and dense, intricate harmonies, its deliberate aesthetic of indirection, and its poetic double meanings all amount to a refusal to simplify this moment. By crafting an aesthetic of ebb and flow, push and pull, Solange insists on being angry.

The album’s complexity is also reflected in the myriad voices and influences Solange gathers into it. A Seat at the Table offers a hearth to black women as much as it asserts Solange’s right to comfort and understanding. And in terms of her lived experience, the table of the album’s title, metaphysical and physical, rests in her home of New Orleans.

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