written by Carla Bynum
The album starts flawlessly with the song “Rise,” which was the first song on the album she wrote four years ago. The song encourages listeners to walk in their truth through successes and failures.
Solange has tried different methods to hopefully wash her pain and suffering away including changing her hair, drinking, smoking, dancing, and shopping but nothing seemed to help how she was feeling. The feeling of depression she felt loomed over her like inescapable “Cranes in the Sky.”
On the “Interlude: Dad was Mad,” Matthew Knowles reminisces on his childhood and the anger he felt for years over the way black people were and continue to be treated. He felt that he was lost in a “vacuum between integration and segregation and racism.”
With the way black people are being treated in America, Solange has a lot to be “Mad” about and she addresses those who have something to say about the way she feels. The song also features a verse from Lil Wayne.
Solange was inspired to write “Don’t You Wait” about people and friends in her life that she felt were holding her back from being her greatest self. Once she eliminated certain people from her life, she felt she was able to express herself more freely.
Tina Lawson, Solange’s mother, expresses her pride in her black culture and love for her people on the “Interlude: Tina Taught Me.” She also addresses the misguided perceptions of being pro-black by some white people who don’t understand the culture.
For many black women, hair is a form of self-expression and we take pride in our hair. Solange rejects people who deem it acceptable to touch her and tells them, “Don’t Touch My Hair.” Touching a black woman’s hair can be seen as a disrespectful act that strips away the woman’s consent over her body and hair.
The “Interlude: This Moment” is for people who have an opinion about the black culture and experience but haven’t endured the same things black people have. “If you don’t understand us and understand what we’ve been through, then you probably wouldn’t understand what this moment is about.”
Solange wonders “Where Do We Go” from here when places where black people used to feel safe are not the same. Her mother Tina shared a story that relates to the feeling of the song about how her family was run out of Louisiana when she was younger due to a racial incident.
Master P drops some knowledge on listeners on the “Interlude: For Us By Us” about believing in oneself and knowing your worth. He talks about the success of his record label No Limit Records and how someone from the projects was able to do everything he set forth to do even when people around him doubted him.
Solange wanted the song “F.U.B.U.” to exhibit blackness “in any space, on a huge global level” just like the clothing brand F.U.B.U. did when it first hit the scene many years ago. F.U.B.U. was instrumental in the black community because it stood for “For Us, By Us.” It was a brand that celebrated blackness and encouraged self-expression in the black community. The song features BJ the Chicago Kid and The-Dream.
Solange sings about the importance of taking care of you in the midst of the turmoil happening in the world on the song “Borderline (An Ode to Self Care).” Taking care of oneself is a difficult task and she finds it especially difficult to do so when there’s a “war” going on outside her home.
Nia Andrews and Kelly Rowland encourage listeners not to let anyone steal their magic on the “Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It.”
The song “Junie” was inspired by Walter “Junie” Morrison of the Ohio Players and Parliament-Funkadelic. The song has a funky melody and features Andre 3000.
On the “Interlude: No Limits,” Master P recalls how the idea for No Limit Records came about. His grandfather, who served in the military, heavily influenced him to start his own army, and that’s exactly what he did. There was no limit to what he could achieve.
On the track “Don’t Wish Me Well,” Solange reiterates that she is extremely vocal about her beliefs and feelings and the distance between her and the people in her life who don’t understand continues to expand because she isn’t going to change or let her beliefs go.
On the “Interlude: Pedestals,” Master P talks about how people sometimes place others on a pedestal when we are all human. He also addresses the differences between rich and poor neighborhoods and how poor people aren’t always awarded the same resources and opportunities as their rich counterparts.
Kelela joins Solange on the song “Scales” about a black man who is considered a success in his neighborhood because of his nice car and grill in his mouth but a failure by the world.
The album closes with “Closing: The Chosen One” where Master P reminds listeners that “we come over here as slaves, but we are going out as royalty and able to show that we are truly the chosen ones.”
A Seat at the Table is a powerful and thought-provoking album that doesn’t make light of the happenings in the world. Solange addresses police brutality, injustice, and living as a black woman in a world that she is weary of. This album couldn’t come at a better time, especially with the seemingly constant disregard for black lives in America. Solange flawlessly tackles controversial issues in a melodic way that will easily make this album a contender for the best album of 2016.
Recommended Tracks: “Weary,” “Where Do We Go,” “Scales,” “F.U.B.U.”