Johannesburg - Thank goodness for the Knowles sisters. This year, they produced music for black women – music that unapologetically says the things we sometimes cannot say ourselves, that creates moments of catharsis, of healing, of joy, of badassery, of introspection, or moments just to feel, be it pretty or ugly.
Beyoncé created that moment with her visual album Lemonade, and last week, Solange Knowles released her new album, A Seat at the Table.
It’s a beautiful piece of work that captures some of what it feels like to be black in the world at the moment. Of the rage, the sadness, the weariness, the joy, the hopelessness and more. The opening track Rise sounds like a war cry with the lyrics: “Walk in your ways so you will wake up and rise.”
In Weary, she articulates the endless feeling of being tired, as if your very blood was exhausted; yet, still being resolute in the knowledge that you belong, with lyrics such as: “And do you belong? / I do. I do”.
My favourite song has to be Cranes in the Sky, which deals with trying to distract oneself with work, with alcohol, with putting one in the air, with sexts and the various kinds of distractions available to us, all set to a beautiful sweeping piano.
In Mad, she touches on why black women have so many reasons to be angry, yet are still characterised as irrational about it. Then she goes into the topic of hair with the wonderful Don’t Touch My Hair.
A Seat at the Table features guest appearances from her parents – Tina Lawson and Matthew Knowles – who share their thoughts and experiences on an interlude each. Lil Wayne, Master P, Q-Tip, The Dream, Kelly Rowland and Sampha are among the other appearances, and Raphael Saadiq is co-executive producer with Solo.
It’s a mix of funk, jazz, neo soul and blues that makes the interesting sound that Solo has made her trademark.
This is a lovely and timely offering from an exceptionally talented woman.