How Solange's New Album Speaks to the Black Experience in America Today
If you haven't heard Solange's new album, where have you been?
I've been a fan of the singer since 2008 when I first heard her music on a car ride headed for a night out with my BFF Sharde'. We listened to the sonically, soulfully, hipster vibes of Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, Solange's second studio album. That's when I realized that she was no longer Beyonce's little sister, but an artist in her own right. Still, I think Solange's music remained fairly under the radar and only praised by her core supporters' somewhat of the secret neo-soul fanatics--until the infamous elevator conflict between her and music mogul/brother-in-law Jay-Z with superstar sister Beyonce' as a bystander. This somehow drew people to explore her music.
Last week Solange released her long awaited album, A Seat at the Table. The Houston native who now resides in New Orleans incorporated two of New Orleans biggest artists Master-P in speaking interludes and Lil' Wayne in a musical collaboration. You could mute out the lyrics and simply appreciate the art of music production. The sounds are an eclectic mix of Jazz, R&B, Pop, easy listening, hip-hop, and soul. The lyrics that accompany the music speak to the Black experience in America today. Although the album in its entirety resonates to the current state of the Black community in America, I'm going to use four of my favorite and most powerful tracks as examples"
1. Track, "Don't Touch My Hair"
Highlighted Lyrics: "Don't touch my hair when it's the feelings I wear....don't touch my soul when it's the rhythm I know."
Significance: The song uses Black hair as a metaphor for many things including security, self-expression, feelings. More and more Black women are embracing natural textures by abstaining from using chemical products. The politics of Black hair tell many stories historically in American politics. It speaks to ethnic pride, stance, and protest against traditional standards of beauty infiltrated by mainstream media.
2. Track, "Mad" which features Lil' Wayne
Highlighted Lyrics: "You got the right to be mad. But when you carry it alone you find it only getting in the way They say you gotta let it go."
Significance: With the horrific shootings and deaths of Black people at the hands of American police, this song speaks to the emotions of Black people in response to the violence against Black men and women by the state. Moreover, the little to no consequence for the actions of police despite visual evidence and public outcry for justice.
3. Track, "Weary"
Highlighted Lyrics: "I'm weary of the ways of the world. Be weary of the ways of the world. I'm weary of the ways of the world."
Significance: No matter how the Black communities have decided to protest the wrong-doings of local police, nothing seems to stick. Exercising the right to protest peacefully, by speaking out, or by rioting (note: I don't condone violence as a form of protest) neither measure is accepted. Black people are tired and weary of the repeated unwarranted police killings and how forms of protests, as spelled out in the Bill of Rights does not seem to apply to African-Americans. Examples: NFL: Footballer Colin Kaepernick right to silent protest or Jesse's Williams' fiery speech.
4. Track, "Cranes in the Sky"
Highlighted Lyrics: "I tried to drink it away. I tried to put one in the air I tried to dance it away. I tried to change it with my hair."
Significance: The song reflects on the many stages of trying to escape the pain and frustration of what is currently happening in Black communities and the police.
"By no means is this album an anti-police, political extremism, or a form of radical movement. It's a coping mechanism for the current reality of the Black experience in America. "-- Chantal V
There's too much symbolism throughout this album to explain it all in just one post. Bravo to Solange for creating a soundtrack that captures the feelings and emotions of African-Americans today.