Three years of silence since her last EP True, Solange has finally come back to us with a 21-track album filled with black excellence, women empowerment, amazing collaborations and aesthetic perfection. To summarize what listening to this album was like without being biased (honestly, truly) – it was greatness at its’ finest and by the end of it, will make you feel like you really do have a seat at the table.
The album starts off with rise which abruptly begins with her singing “Fall in your ways, so you can crumble/Fall in your way so you can sleep at night/Fall in your ways so you can wake up and rise,” along to soft piano melodies before ending with slow synths as it transforms into her second song “Weary,” which just by reading the title makes you know she’s about to shed some light. Solange sings about being weary for the world and the racial violence going on in America today.
With more and more black people getting shot and killed by the police and the not so subtle anymore racial tensions, her lyrics hit home with strong messages such as “But you know that a king is only a man/With flesh and bones, he bleeds just like you do” which reminds us that humans, no matter what status or skin color are still just human and “Do you belong/I do, I do” which is a reference from her essay published on Saint Heron speaking about the discomfort of being black in predominately white spaces where they make it obvious that you are not wanted there. Solange wrote the essay after facing this type of hostility at a Kraftwerk show with her family.
The music business was built brick by brick off the backs, shoulders, heart ache and pain, of black people, and everyone is just exhausted.
— solange knowles (@solangeknowles)
Listening to “Cranes in The Sky” up next, I couldn’t help but not only be moved by her lyrics as she talks about the endless times she’s tried to run away from her problems and hide her feelings, possibly in those “cranes in the sky”, but also at the music video itself which she choreographed.
Features with Lil Wayne on “Mad,” a moving spoken word piece from her mother Tina Lawson on “Tina Taught Me,” my personal favorite, “Don’t Touch My Hair” with Sampha, spoken word from Master P on “This Moment,” “For Us by Us,” “No Limits” and “Pedestals,” my other favorite “F.U.B.U” featuring BJ the Chicago Kid and The Dream, a beautiful A Cappella by Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews on “I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It”, Q-Tip on “Borderline: An Ode to Self Care,” even Andre 3000 makes an appearance where he playfully sings “Jump on It” for the chorus of “Junie”.
“Black kids have to figure [it] out. We don’t have a rehab to go to. You gotta rehab yourself.” – Master P
Not only does she speak boldly about black lives despite how controversial it is, she also proves (again) how she simply does not give a single f**k about what others think of her in “Don’t Wish Me Well” where she sings about sticking to her beliefs and convictions even if it makes her unpopular. She finishes up with “Scales” featuring Kelela and a final interlude by Master P on “Closing: The Chosen Ones” where he says to his people “Now, we come here as slaves, but we going out as royalty and able to show that we are truly the chosen ones.”
A slap to the face for some and a chance to final exhale for others, Solange spoke for those too afraid to speak and also for some of us who felt everything she felt, but just didn’t know how to say it. Both Beyonce and Solange have proven to be strong voices in the industry with provoking lyrics and incredibly pleasing aesthetic music videos. It’s difficult not feel some type of way when music like this comes up and shakes your world, especially in a year with so much hate going on where love and healing is desperately needed.