A seat at the table by Solange Knowles Album review

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.

Outta love

Always

Your sista, beckybeckboo

July 7th

 

It was July 7th

 I did not know how affected I was about all of this. Til’ I broke down crying in the middle of a bookstore. I did not realize how heavy all of this was. I woke up in the middle of the night learning about the death of Philando Castile, and Alton Sterling just died a couple hours ago…this was too much. 

I got up early and left the house. I decided to go to the bookstore and buy some books that would hopefully help me understand fully what was happening, and giving me some ideas about what to do next. Because staying there and do nothing was not an option. I won’t wait for the next hashtag.

Finally, I was in the bookstore. I picked some books about black liberation and then took a seat. I needed to go over them quickly in order to choose which ones will I buy and bring back home. I sat down and started to scan them. After only a few minutes, I totally lost my focus. I looked through the window and started tearing up….

Shit.

Not here. Not in public. It had to stop. I tried multiple times to wipe the tears off, but they kept coming back.

Shit.

In the corner of my eyes, I saw that someone was standing next to me. I turned around and saw this old white lady who was so tiny.

She was one of the bookstore employee. I looked down at her tag to check her name; “Frankie”

“Are you okay?” she asked me

Her big eyes were so worried. I smiled back at her. It was a fake crooked smile. But still.

“I’m okay! I am o…”

Broke down in the middle of my lie. I could not hold back the tears. I could not hide my pain, nor could I ignore it. I am so fed up, so tired, and I feel so powerless. That is why, I guess, that I was now crying, out loud, in front of a complete stranger, in the middle of a bookstore.

“Oh baby…”

Frankie’s hug caught me by surprise. But I needed it so bad. I let it all out.

Crying in a stranger’s arm….didn’t those things only happened in the movies? Surely it didn’t happen to me before this day. I calmed down a little. Frankie took the time to look at me with her big eyes, always so worried. And she asked me what was wrong, why was I crying.

Good question Frankie. Good question. Where do I start? Why was I crying? I had no words. When I tried to tell her I just stuttered. Why was I crying? Because the anxiety was eating me alive. And this anxiety was caused by way too many things. The killing of black men by cops. The killing of black people period. Everywhere. The denial of our humanity. The appropriation of our culture. The freakin’ system…white privilege. The fear. Fear to have children. Children that I always wanted to have but that I am now scared to raise in a world build to destroy them. I’m frustrated that I am even thinking of some unborn child…. I broke down again. Why am I crying?

 

Fast-forward to present day.

 I said I wouldn’t wait Til’ the next hashtag, but didn’t have to wait. It came fast.

New names. New Hashtags.

Terence Crutcher.

Keith Scott.

Alfred Olango.

Their murders were as horrible as the previous ones. The only difference was that I did not cry. Did not shed a tear. I cared of course but it just feel like I was immune you know?

As if I was used to it.

217 black people killed by the police this year in The United States of America.

And I got used to it.

It scared  me. I didn’t feel anything. I started to ask myself some question; When did I got disconnected? When did I stop crying?

Why am I not crying?