“Don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along/ Just be glad you’ve got the whole world” – F.U.B.U.
Let me be clear, I wouldn’t even be writing about Solange if it wasn’t for Beyoncé. I say this with no shade intended, as I am not an actual member of the Beyhive nor am I one of those ignants that hinge Solange’s success on her sister’s coat tails. It is simply that I don’t particularly care for soprano voices. It takes a special tone to keep me diggin the voice once it stays hitting an A above middle C (or in Alicia Key’s case, attempting to hit that A #ShadeIntended). When A Seat At the Table dropped, I was more hyped for you than with you, nahmean? I’m thrilled when them Knowles women succeed. So I’ma be real and say I first heard Solange sing when she was on SNL. And I only checked that joint out cause that sweet Insta video of Tina and Beyoncé picking her up afterward.
Reminded me of my own sisters.
Then I saw a video about the history of that hair crown Solange rocked the fuck outta. And then I watched the performance. Real.
So when Heffa-in-Charge Siaara Freeman said bitch you a music editor why don’t you review an album the rest of the world has heard or like do your job in any kinda way really,* I was like, oh word? What about that Rihanna joint and she was like that was a year ago sis and then Interview Magazine had Beyoncé interview her own sister and I remembered I hadn’t actually checked out the album as a whole, so here’s my review of A Seat At The Table.
First thing’s first, Solange is an Artist.
She would have been an artist no matter the family, no matter what her big sis got up to; she’d be in the basement mixing tracks or a Garage Band prodigy or in the underground clubs sitting in on jam sessions. In fact, I am almost 100!!! that she’s done those things exactly. A Seat At the Table plays and dances with so many genres and gives not one nary a single fuck about making a banger. There are no bangers on this album.
This shit was for us, but most importantly, this shit was for her.
She is exactly Black girl fly about the privilege to work as an artist and create what the fuck she felt she wanted to create. Overall, the album is reminiscent of Badu’s Worldwide Underground or Jill Scott’s first volume because you can put it on and enjoy from beginning to end without actively listening. You find yourself wandering your house, washing your draws or whatnot humming “don’t touch…mah…haaaaiiiiirrrr…” without really thinking about it. Maybe it’s just me.
What Solange is not, is a polished craftswoman. Beyonce has got perfectly executed, highly produced and polished everything. She reigns, at a remove from the common mortal. Solange welcomes, beckoning you join in as a full part. She is allowed to play and experiment, to show an inexact creator, as you see in the rough a cappella interlude with Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews, “I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It.” Feeling triumphs over precision always in what feels like a brilliant move to further distance herself from any easy comparison with her sister.
It seems clear that they love and respect each other for what they themselves are not.
In a society endlessly fascinated with celebrity life and perceived beef and patriarchal “catfight” bullshit, what we know is that these sisters got each other’s back. First. Huh, Jay?
This is the joint to drop when you put out the bottles and the house party is kicking off. As people come in, it’s easy to talk about and over, to enjoy while eyeing prospects; it’s mellow. Then the drum gets a little funkier, the bass drops harder and you look across the Solo cups and see someone you don’t know mouthing the same words and y’all smile. E’erbody ignores the interludes since that first listen-through (though they actively serve as the connecting through-line that enriches the simple lyrics). By the time “Scales” comes on, enough people have arrived that its time to switch it out to something a little more turnt. But thank you, Sol-Angel, for laying the good vibe.
*Siaara will claim it didn’t go like this and that she gently suggested Solange’s album and that may be true but also we speak Slytherin so you never know.
Amber Flame is a honey-beige black unicorn. Does all the things. Queer, here, still ain’t used to it but stays breathing. Works as The Hand of This Week in Blackness and other hustles. Regular dandyfemme/prettyboi except when incognegro.