“All my niggas in the whole wide world, made this song to make it all y’all’s turn for us, this shit is for us..”
Riding down I-110 on my way to work, the words from F.U.B.U. blared through my speakers, cutting through the breeze that funneled through the open window with the clarity and resolve of a shaolin monk. Loud, clear, crisp. Finally, something for us, by one of us.
On September 30, 2016 Solange released one of the most relevant albums of 2016: A Seat at the Table. What was anticipated to be a quirky, eccentric Solange style piece of work ended up being arguably one of the most important projects of the year. With features from Mama Tina, Master P, BJ the Chicago, Kelela and more, Solange managed to embody the Black American experience in America’s current racial climate with her collection of musical tracks and spoken word interludes. What really makes this album special, is that although it talks about the anger and frustration experienced within the Black community, the way the music is composed doesn’t make you mad, but instead inspires you to keep fighting the good fight, ignore the naysayers, and take care of, protect and appreciate yourself in the process.
So many of these tracks touched my soul and related to how I feel, and how many Black Americans feel and have felt in the past and present years in America. It’s frustrating having to constantly convey and defend how we feel every single day in this country and Solange did so effortlessly. Here are 7 Black AF lessons and sentiments that we’re all loving and vibing to from A Seat at the Table.
Take Care of Yo’Self
“So let’s take it off tonight, break it off tonight,baby, let’s know when to let go…baby it’s war outside these walls baby its war outside these doors, yeah, a safe space tonight let’s play it safe tonight baby you know what you’re fighting for baby you know what I’m fighting for” -Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)
It’s frustrating and draining having a Black body in America. Between seeing your brothers and sisters bleeding out on the TV screen every two weeks and dealing with the effects of institutionalized racism, it can get…tiring.
Black people are expected to take all of this on a daily basis and still be strong and quiet. However, it’s important to take a break and unplug from the world sometimes; it’s important to take care of your mind and temple so you don’t lose yourself in it all.
We Have Every Reason to be Mad
“I ran into this girl I said ‘I’m tired of explaining’ man this shit so draining, but I’m not really allowed to be mad” – Mad
“If you don’t understand us and understand what we’ve been through, then you probably wouldn’t understand what this moment is about” -Interlude: This Moment
“And I’m going all the way, but I’ll leave on the lights for you…” -Don’t Wish Me Well
For some reason, there are boatloads of people that believe Black people have no reason to be mad about anything that’s been happening. If you ask them, racism is over, so why are we bothered? If you’ve ever ran through the comment section of an article that speaks on anything race related, or overheard your non-Black coworkers talking about the latest shooting of an unarmed Black man, then you can definitely relate to this. This album perfectly describes the views of many of us out here: I’m mad and I don’t feel like explaining to you why anymore, you’re probably never going to fully understand because you haven’t walked in my shoes, and I’m going to continue to be mad and do my part with or without your understanding *shrug*.
Black is Beautiful
Mama Tina let it be known clearly in “Interlude: Tina Taught Me” that Black is beautiful and there’s not a damn thing wrong with thinking and expressing that.
Protect Your Space
“Don’t touch my hair, when it’s the feelings I wear, don’t touch my soul when it’s the rhythm I know, don’t touch my crown they say the vision I’ve found, don’t touch what’s there when it’s the feelings I wear” – Don’t Touch My Hair
On the surface this song yells loud and clear: stop putting your crusty dusty grimy hands in my hair without asking. But this song speaks to so much more. It urges others to not violate an individual’s soul, to stop appropriating other’s culture and to just appreciate another person’s essence from afar.
Where Do We Go
Although this song can be interpreted to be about about Solange’s grandparents being ran out of New Iberia, Louisiana, as well as European colonization in general it also speaks to the current frustration of Black Americans. The feeling of not knowing what to do or where to go when America is all you’ve known but the system isn’t built for people like you to succeed.
Know Your Worth
“If this white man offer me a million dollars I gotta be worth forty or fifty, or ten or something” -Interlude: For Us By Us
Although this album speaks to the Black experience, this lesson can be learned by all: know you’re worth and don’t settle for less. People will always offer you the least they think they can get you for in the beginning, it’s up to you to decide if you want what you actually deserve. Define your worth, don’t let others do it for you.
Keep Ya Head Up
“Now, we come here as slaves, but we goin out as royalty, and able to show that we are truly the chosen ones” -Closing: The Chosen Ones
Our strength and resilience makes us that much more amazing. To have had generations and generations gone through what they have gone through and not be completely broken just shows how incredible we really are.
So continue to rise above the struggle, continue to fight against discriminatory laws and practices and continue loving yourselves. Redemption will come in the morning.
Solange hand crafted a capsule of Black truth, unapologetically preserving messages of frustration, self-care, Black pride and more through the regal horns of “Closing: The Chosen Ones”, the soft piano and self-affirming chants of “Rise” and the beautiful harmonies of #BlackGirlMagic on “Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It”. This album truly is “for us”
Thank you, Solange. We will surely appreciate this album for years to come.
Have you all heard the album yet? Let us know what you think in the comments below! If not, check out Solange’s new album here!