Title: A Seat at the Table
Label: Saint Records/Columbia
Formats: CD, LP, MP3
Release date: November 18, 2016
A Seat at the Table is Solange’s third full-length album, and debuted to wide critical acclaim as well as a great deal of commercial success, for good reason. The album is a force of nature, ethereal and almost delicate at times, yet tackles some of the heaviest aspects of black life today. She sings about the range of the black experience and black womanhood, from depression on “Cranes in the Sky” to the pivotal and still relevant decree, “Don’t Touch My Hair.” “F.U.B.U.” is a self-determination anthem bearing the name of the ‘90s clothing brand, and “Mad” explores the seemingly perpetual regulation of black anger and frustration.
Several key collaborators help to bring the album’s vision together, including Solange’s parents. Both provide important interludes, with her father discussing school integration in “Dad Was Mad” and Mama Tina outlining the importance of affirming one’s blackness in “Tina Taught Me.” Most of the other interludes are handled by Master P, who recounts his own stories about self-worth as a young rapper coming up in the music industry. The album was co-produced by Raphael Saddiq, whose laid back funk grooves provide the perfect setting for Solange’s vocals.
This album is all the hashtags one could hope for: it’s #woke, full of #blackexcellence and #blackgirlmagic. However, A Seat at the Table is more than just part of the Black Twitter news cycle. It has staying power, it shows how Solange has grown and settled into her artistry, and it sets an example of what political music can (and should) be in these trying times.
Reviewed by Allie Martin