To Pimp A Butterfly, Black Messiah, Lemonade and now, A Seat At The Table. If music is to reflect the lived experiences of the artist and the world around them, than Solange’s third project is the natural progression in a legacy of black liberation music. In A Seat At The Table, Solange uses her soft vocals and artistic songwriting to deliver a powerful and conscious message. For those of us who consider ourselves to be “woke”, this album is everything you need to get you through tough times. And for those of us who wouldn’t categorize themselves as such, this is the album that will wake you up.
Solo is all over the production of this album as the lead songwriter, co-producer, and lead vocalist. Musically, this album is truly a work of art in it’s piano-driven composition with a steady baseline to contrast her angelic falsetto. The musicality of this album alone deserves its own article but some of the key features were the minimalistic production, and staggered harmonies that popularized her sister’s R&B trio Destiny’s Child (a group Solange wrote several songs for). But this post isn’t about comparing her to her super talented sister who you may or may not have heard of…
Lyrically, this album’s very poetic but straightforward in it’s message of empowerment and healing. Refrains like “I’m gonna look for my body yeah, I’ll be back real soon” both enchant us and remind us of the dark realities of how agency over black and brown bodies are systematically stripped away, especially from women of color. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is a statement of self love and expression to contrast this equally powerful but unrelated statement on the same matter (R.I.P. dude but you had it coming). The interludes tie various themes of radicalism together tackling ideas of identity, discrimination, black ownership, and what it really means for black people and particularly, black women to have a seat at the table.
In a project this good, it’s incredibly difficult to pick out favorites because every song touches us in a different but much needed way, but if I had to pick out some standouts “Cranes in the Sky” is a panacea for the woes of life, while “Mad” is the embodiment of James Baldwin’s legendary quote, “To be a negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in rage almost all the time”. “Where Do We Go” however, took us to church with its soulful piano vamp and creeping baseline.
What makes this album so special and separates it from it’s contemporaries is that it is both powerful and listenable. That idea may seem odd at first but at some point we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that a lot of projects with a great social message aren’t very listenable. Sure you say you loved so and so’s album to all your ‘woke’ friends, but are you really singing along to it in the shower or are you blasting Young Thug like the rest of us? ASATT however, can be played in the shower, on your morning commute, at church, at a kickback, or at a protest and it’s still fire.
Having said all of that, the most special thing about this album, is that it really doesn’t need the validation of another male blogger. If you really want to know how good this album is, hear it from the perspective of it’s main audience here, here, or here.
On a scale from 1 – The Miseducation, this album gets a 9.1
“Baby, it’s war outside these doors, yeah/ A safe place tonight”
“I’m gonna look for my glory yeah, I’ll be back real soon”