Despite the topsy-turvy year that has been 2016, this year has provided music that we’ll surely be discussing for years to come. When it comes to the celebration of Blackness and the celebration of Black people there seems to be an awakening where it comes to entertainers and people of influence; the appearance is that they have more self-awareness and appreciation for their Blackness and therefore it is being more outwardly expressed throughout the creative arts and I think we need to be grateful not only as the consumers, but as fellow Black people that we can share something in common with the people that we listen to, beyond our somewhat shared struggles and skin tone. Solange has always seemed to be one of those artists that was truly aware of who she was, because being the younger sister to a Global superstar that is Beyoncé, you can either try to emulate what’s already been established, or simply go your own route and make something out of it. She chose the latter, and God bless her for it. Where it’s funny how it took Lemonade for people to really see Bey as a Black woman (like actually), Solange’s Blackness was never in question because her music reflected her experiences that were tied into the commoners more so than her sister, and that’s fine, but if they come from the same family, why would Blackness ever come into question? Simple – because of the conversations.
These conversations are professed throughout Solange’s breakout album, because they are remedies that administer relief to those going through dark times in a mental state so that our self-care can remain pure in ways that aren’t always expressed. Coming from her own personal experiences with battling the pressures of just being a creative, she has gone through a lot to put this work together. Opening up with Rise with a mantra to propel the awakening of your spirit just to see another day and hope for it to be a positive one, that’s not something that we as Black people do often enough. There’s always something that we have to worry about instead of focusing on what matters most – our health.
“Fall in your ways, so you can crumble
Fall in your ways, so you can sleep at night
Fall in your ways, so you can wake up and rise”
The structure of the album is presented in a way where it’s meant to be consumed by the Black people in a healthy manner. Solange literally takes us by the hand, caresses us with the purest of African Shea Butter and gives us a hug while our faces are buried in the chasm of curls that only the righteous are allowed to touch. It’s more than just music – it’s healing. It’s saying that we’re allowed to not be okay, because we’re not in it alone – we all go through (relatively) the same shit, so let’s just talk about it.
The voices that contribute to the narration of the album are necessary because you have generational tales that still contribute to the pains that many face today. Tina Taught Me talks about the importance of being Pro-Black and how White people like to try and take that away from us and spin it as a negative. We can be accepting of everyone, but we’re also allowed to be selfish and say straight up “I love being Black.” We’re not taught to love ourselves, so we should give thanks to Mama being that teacher in that moment.
“It’s such beauty in black people, and it really saddens me when we’re not allowed to express that pride in being black, and that if you do, then it’s considered anti-white. No! You just pro-black. And that’s okay. The two don’t go together.”
Dad Was Mad spoke to the frustrations of living in an age where the Black body was truly devalued by the Establishment. Living under threats of the KKK and the Police, and plain ol’ racism, it’s easy to look at the elderly of that generation and paint them as being always mad at everything. Well, when you look at history, you can’t really blame them. They’ve gone through a lot, and it takes years of unlearning to pass that along to the offspring to not carry that same anger. It’s energy wasted and it breaks us down & tears us apart.
What I loved most, were the words of Master P throughout the album as he shared his story of his comeuppance, his hood, his family, the importance of being an entrepreneur, but at the root of it – appreciating his Blackness and never forgetting where he came from. There’s always a hustle when it comes to our people, because we’re survivors. Creators first, but had to adapt to being survivors, and it’s not even a matter of living, it’s surviving to get the chance to live. That’s a reality, and it’s something that not everyone can understand, and it’s fine if they don’t, because as the song F.U.B.U goes, “this shit is for us.”
Cranes In The Sky, F.U.B.U, Mad, Where Do We Go, and Don’t Touch My Hair are my personal favourites if I had to choose, but as a whole, what the essence of the album speaks to is that it is first and foremost an Ode to Black women. The I Got So Much Magic interlude is a prime example, because throughout history, civilizations & societies have taken so much from Black women, that it’s astounding that their strength continues to usher them in directions to persevere, create new trends, and continue being magicians, because they just have so much magic. I’ve seen examples of it, I’m a product of it, and I’d be damn sure that if I have a daughter in the future, she’ll understand that for herself, she is powerful beyond measure.
Solange didn’t hold back from any entities that possessed her to spew out tracks to regurgitate our importance in life. Whether it’s about love (or lack thereof) for self or for others, or being okay with being vulnerable, which Black people don’t have a space to be, she opened a door for so many to take pride in who they are, flaws and all, and beam with joy that someone is speaking to them from a place that doesn’t just cater to Black people for some coin. It’s genuine, and she’s a great vessel to carry a message that Black is Bold, Black is Beautiful, and Black is forever. It’s one of the best projects you’ll hear this year, and if you’re not Black, don’t feel bad if you can’t sing along (more lyrics from F.U.B.U), just let us have our place, because unfortunately, you can’t sit with us. This is my opinion, this is my review,
That’s My Word & It STiXX