I am no music expert; I play no music instrument. I sing as an alto in my church youth choir but that’s about it. There is no more to add to my background in music, so what is going to be said in this review is 100% based on my personal opinion. And my opinion is that this album might be the album of the year. Not only the music is beautiful but the message that Solange Knowles is communicating with her audience is so important. I really have the impression that she just reads me, she reads my feelings. She reads my sadness, my pain, my anger, so beautifully. The message is heavy, but the music is so light you do not feel pain when she is communicating pain, you do not feel anger when she is communicating anger, and you do not feel sadness either when she communicates sadness; you feel peace. I feel peace. I feel peace listening to the album because someone understand perfectly how I feel. And is telling me that it is okay to feel this way. And this someone is Solange. And I am so grateful. Her making this album is a blessing. That this why, I will in this article, review not all the pieces but my favorites one, the one who touched me the most, who spoke to me, and hopefully after reading this piece those songs will speak to you as well, if they didn’t already.
Cranes in the sky: Cranes in the sky is an international favorite. I saw a post in my Facebook newsfeed of a girl saying that she could write a whole essay about this one single piece. The music is light and peaceful but the song is actually talking about not finding piece. It is about being in a constant sadness and not knowing what to do to feel better. She is saying that she tried everything to make this pain go away: buy new clothes, drink, travel, keeping herself busy, read, cry….and the pain still goes nowhere. At some point she even said: “I tried to let go my lover, thought if I was alone then maybe I could recover”. She is trying to recover. She doesn’t want to feel those “mental clouds”. Solange is definitely talking about mental health, about depression and how no matter how hard you try or how hard you want to escape from it you cannot do it. I read other review and there are a lot of speculations about the song, saying that it might refer to the poor condition of African American in the States, how they life is daily affected by systemic oppression in a particularly violent way. This theory makes lot of sense if you look at the whole album, from the tittle to the interludes, through the songs and the message giving. The whole album is about the black bodies experiencing violence and the trauma that it causes. A trauma which can easily result to depression. And whatever what you do. You. Can’t. Push. It. Away.
Dad was mad (interlude)/Mad: I don’t know if people really understand the deepness of this interlude. Because at first I didn’t. It is after watching the review of Serein on YouTube (review that heavily inspires this one I suggest you to go watch it here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5hUzDIG1iM). This is what I got from it: Mathew Knowles, Solange and Beyoncé’s father, is speaking of his post Jim Crow experience. When integration begins, black kids were starting to get accepted in what used to be all white school. Mr. Knowles is talking about being one of the first black kid with five other black kids, to integrate an all-white school. He is talking about how difficult it was because they were not welcome. White parents and KKK members keep threating them in their way to school and they feared for their life every day. Everyday. And this made me angry because he could not understand why they had t9o go through all this. He said I was mad for so many years, I was mad. Now wait. Think a little. Mathew Knowles grew up with this anger. And pass it down to his kids. He experiences trauma from the segregation area and got angry and this anger was passed down to the children he raised. He made Beyoncé the tough one and she sing about this in the song Daddy’s lesson that you can find in the recent lemonade album. She is talking about Daddy made a soldier out of me, I had to be a tough girl. Watching out for my mom and my little sister. Learning me how to shoot with a gun telling me not to cry. You see the picture here? And for Solange, in the song “Mad”, she talks about how angry she is. And she is talking also about how people react to this anger. They tell you that you got to let it go. This is a letter to the angry black girl everywhere. Two of my friends told me about how this song make them feel like finally someone understand them and I totally relate. Black girls are so often told to be silence to be quiet. When we got A LOT TO BE MAD ABOUT. And like Solange said at the end this shit is draining, we are tired of explain…. but really thou we are not even allowed to be mad.
Tina taught me/Don’t touch my hair: Another interlude with this time Tina Lawson speaking the mother of Bey and Solange. Her Interlude is my favorite. Seriously. She is saying EXACTLY MY SENTIMENT. I am proud to be black, so proud. But we are NEVER allowed to feel this pride as if it was a sin. And this is really specific to black people. Any other ethnicity can express their pride but black people. If we do for some reason it is seen as racist. And this is not just an opinion this is straight up FACTS. And sure get on my nerves. And I feel like it gets on Mama Tina nerves as well. Like she said, they don’t want us to be proud you want to SUPRESS ME. This fear of black pride…just show how we are feared. How black people not feeling like shit about themselves scares others. It should really make us think of the power we have because everybody knows we have it except us. They fear what we could do if we use that paper it is definitely something we should reflect on. And this lead to the next powerful song; Don’t touch my hair. This. Song. Love at first sight. There is so much meaning to this song but I want be able to go in depth because this review already has too much words lol. Don’t touch my hair. Because it is not just hair. IT IS NOT JUST HAIR. Is a part of who I am. Black hair is special. Because our hair in itself when it is at his natural states is a political statement. You might think that this is too much but…nah. Little girls are still sent home from school because their natural hair are seen as distraction for others. People lost their job because their natural hair were seen as unprofessional. They could not access places because of their hair. Don’t touch my hair, don’t touch my crown because you don’t understand what it means to me IT IS MINE IT IS NOT YOURS TO HAVE. And this is not up to discussion. The lyric of the chorus says: “What you say to me?” As if to say; I dare you to reply to this statement. Speak up. Don’t reply under your breath say what you want to say and be ready to catch these hands. And once again, despite this being a heavy subject the song does not feel heavy: all you feel is pure black joy. A joy that is even more obvious in the video, especially at the end when all those black bodies are enjoying themselves, dancing, carefree of what anybody think, happy to be them, happy to be black.
F.U.B.U: For us. By us. All my niggas in the whole wide world…. this shit is for us. This. Is me. This song…speak to me at so many level I don’t even know what to say. This song right here, this moment, this space, this album is for us and nobody else. And I think that we should keep doing this. Doing shit for us and stop apologizing for it. We need things that belongs to us, just for us not because you have to be selfish or whatever. But because we share so much. We give to everybody but when people exploiting us they turn their back on us and we are left alone. Nobody cares about us. For us, by us. Because everybody wants to say nigga, but nobody wants to say black lives matter. People care about dabbing, but not the Flint crisis. People will mock our hairstyles, but then turn and praise it when it is on a white body. They don’t care about us. We need things for us. Space exclusively for us. Moment just for us. Songs just for us. Because we are the only one caring about us. This blog is for black girls/women. This is a safe space; this is your safe space. Because I know how much you’ve been hurt, how much time you’ve been ignored, how much time you’ve been copied and then discredited for your own creation. I know. I know it hurts. Solange knows. So this is for you. This album is for you, this moment is for you, this song is for you and this space is yours. For us by us.
Your sista, beckybeckboo