(Unedited) Solange: A Seat at the Table. The kitchen table. Thinking of my grand-mama’s table where we sit and be family. My great aunt’s table in Milwaukee where I visited since forever—I miss her. My childhood kitchen table where I’d do homework while my mama cooked dinner. The same kitchen table where I got my hair pressed and bumper curled for Easter. My own high-top kitchen table where my friends gather and talk love, revolution and shoot the shit.
The “Red Table Talk Series” by Jada, Willow and their matriarch, Adrienne. Three generations of Black gyrl magic having a heart-to-heart, and letting us be a guest as they sit at the root chakra table becoming even more familiar with the gyrlness and womonnes of their lineage. So, not until I saw a coupla FB posts talmbout the cd title being a request to sit at this destructive american table, did I temporarily, get the stank face. I hadn’t thought about it being a question, or a request, for freedom. I’d received it more as ownership and a declaration of: I’m taking a sit down and we gone talk our truths. Never thought about it not being Black gyrl/womyn friendly—my thoughts were more like this table was made by us/for us to sit down and be.
The first listen was a quick one and I felt the essence of D’Angelo’s, Black Messiah. Like D’, Solange was addressing the time. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to sit back with crossed legs and a glass of wine to listen, this cd would require that I uncross my legs, spread wide and lean forward with a mason jar full of stuff to sip, not swallow straight down. Had to get close, even with the Boss surround sound, to hear the words and catch the drift of what she saying.
Upon further listen I was reminded of the vulnerable, yet deliberate, tone of Jill Scott’s, “Rasool” and that song where she said to brothas, “tell me how you’d feel if there were no nappy dugout…”
Solange’s breathy, airy notes see-saw between delicate and airy, and deliberate and full out proclamations.
It’s said that when you’re mad, speak soft, draw the listener in with your calmness. Likewise, in art museums, I am often drawn to the smaller pieces of art. Those that I gotta get all up in their smitty to see the details—life is full of details.
A Seat at the Table: I take my seat at Solange’s table and listen up close and personal to the textures and shades of her voice, the “woke” of her lyrics and the tracks support them both.
Here’s what I hear(d)…Here’s what came up for me when I listened, closely! Here’s my interpretation of the lyrics. The essence.
“Weary” taps into Assata Shakur and other warrioresses who speak about touch and intimacy and vulnerability during the 70s. That in the midst of revolt, we long for touch.
“Cranes in the Sky” is a relationship, but with who or what? Is it the relationship with one’s sanity, or a relationship with bae, or both. I settle into the redundancy, not really caring which, just enjoying the poesy of the piece. I read in the ethos that some think she channeled E. Badu, in this song, I say she channeled, Tweet. And beautifully so, the subtlety of the bass makes its presence known as a lingering backdrop.
The undercurrent of the entire cd is the southern twang of Master P. The sun rising to meet the moon of Solange’s voice and tracks that cling to the lint of the musical pocket, each layer having a purpose.
The slow drag of “Mad” rests on the conditions of Mama Iya’s, House of Healing’s attempt to demystify the angry Black womon. But just like we gon’ be a’ight , we also got a right to be mad. Mad/angry rightfully live in both the acknowledgment and identifying realm of emotional intelligence. The management comes with expression.
The chase of “Don’t You Wait.” The instruments sound like a chase and a sassy conversation. An unapologetically loud and proud Black gyrl speaking her truth. Telling it like it is!
What you worth? Inhale…exhale…we’re worthy by default of our breath. Don’t bite the hand that mistakenly think they’ve been feeding us. The hand is poisoned but dangles shiny coins in front of us cos they don’t know that we know, our worth. We know we worth billions, not a mere mil—know the masters’ tools to then dismantle the house.
“Taught Me:” the beauty of Black. Funny how it’s applauded when white “helpers” and “allies” align and stand in solidarity, but when we actively work at saving…tending to ourselves, we are labeled militant.
Hair/Head hold the energy of our sol/soul. It’s the beat, the pulse of our vision. “Don’t Touch My Hair” evokes Lizz Wright’s, “Salt.” Never abandon the song that is our own and can’t nobody take it away, nor will “they” ever fully understand it.
The clang of cowbells in “Don’t Touch My Hair.” I hear bells around African necks. It reminds me of Abbey Lincoln’s tambourine in “Drivaman.” I hear cattle bells clanging on iron neck-collars. Master P’s grunt is the residual pain and outcry from being captured. But his no limits are our audacity to survive, to still be here! Our fight for our mattering and soiling the status quo, just to be.
The chords, close to the beginning of “Where Do We Go,” were nostalgic for a split second, resembling the familiar hook of Debarge’s “A Dream”
Saadiq and Dre 3000 channel Walter Morrison’s, “Junie’s,” funk! Jump on the power and freedom of our movement. We move energy around. We don’t get stuck. Music frees. Music liberates us. Black joy!
Solange conjures Badu’s, “No you won’t be name’n no buildings after me to go down dilapidated” when she says, “pour ashes where they claimed my name…” and she got the wit of Badu with, “You gon’ end up like your daddy, but damn that nigga fresh…”
Global, we’re a Diaspora. Take a knee or raise a fist. We are chosen.