Like Solange Knowles, I know what it feels like to admire your big sister. To want to show the world that although you and your sibling are completely different beings, you can both excel in your own lanes. To prove that even if to most - your sister is Superwoman, you might still be just as magnificent as her... in your own way.
So, if Beyoncé is Lemonade, then Solange has got to be the smoothest shot of bourbon to come along in a while.
Not to b e outdone by her big sis, this past weekend - Solange released a series of awesome projects. She quietly dropped her 3rd studio album (A Seat at the Table), an accompanying digital lyric & photo book, and not one, but TWO new music videos. In the words of an overwhelmed Ruby from Black'ish...
I'll say it straight: Ms. Solo hit the damn nail on the head with these projects! She hit me with just the sound and visuals I needed in this current climate of racial tension and undeniable oppression. She protested through prose and delivered her thoughts in such a refreshing and meaningful way.
In a stark contrast to Lemonade, Solange's album is more of a throwback sound, than it is a clear march to the future. Solo gives us the most angelic of vocals, while spitting the ugly truths about how society treats people of colour. There are songs on the album (like "Mad" ft. Lil Wayne) that feel like the late Aaliyah's soothing presence and tone are coming straight through the speakers. At other points on the album, it's almost hard to believe that Beyoncé herself isn't the one belting out the lyrics, as Solo's voice can easily be mistaken for her big sister's during certain moments. Them Knowles girls can saaaang and hit ridiculous notes... in case you didn't know.
My stand-out faves from the album include the aforementioned "Mad" (ft. Lil Wayne), "Don't Wish Me Well", "Scales" (ft. Kelela), "Weary", and the ever-bold and oh-so-necessary "Don't Touch My Hair" (ft. Sampha).
Over the course of the album, Solange delves into the experiences and unfair treatment of people of colour in North America. And while she is clearly opining on some heavy subject matter, her method of delivery is what seems to speak volumes. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but the whole album sounds like butter. It is smooth & rich with sounds and melodies. It's effortless. It's not aggressive, even though it's addressing aggressive experiences. Even on songs like "Mad", where she's addressing the myth of the "angry Black woman"... she's crooning with the lightest and airiest of vocals.
For me, the complete album felt like she was diffusing a ticking time-bomb with a gentle touch and a tight-lipped smile. It was a very warm approach to a cold and touchy topic. And still, somehow... her unapologetic Blackness cut threw her soft vocals. There was no mistaking this album for anything else but a bold statement that says: WE ARE TIRED AND WE WON'T BE QUIET ABOUT IT.
By way of this album, Solange is quite literally inviting all to sit down and have a frank and real talk about what it often is and feels like to be a person of colour in a society that perceives us as threats or inferior beings. Where Lemonade lent itself more towards female empowerment and sisterhood, A Seat at the Table feels more like a Million Man March, led by a beautiful woman of colour. Solo'... you've done us mad proud with this one!
The Knowles sisters are proving to all that 2016 is not a game. No need to choose a slay, when you know your sister's got the other lane on lockdown. I love it.