HBD to this spicy soul icon. To celebrate we wrapped some of Solange's best (& our favorite) songs from albums like A Seat At The Table and When I Get Home into a play by play that can also be found on our new Solange Spotify playlist.
Mad (feat. Lil Wayne)
Look, we were blessed to be alive in the year 2016. Artists were giving us some of the best and most introspective music of the decade. Think about it - Chance the Rapper had put out Coloring Book, Kanye hadn't yet donned a M*GA hat and had just put out TLOP. Lemonade was out post-Super Bowl performance and literal unicorn Frank Ocean ruled the summer with Blond. Let's not forget - Angel Olsen stepped into the limelight, David Bowie stepped into heaven, and Bon Iver stepped on our hearts. The list truly goes on.
Then we got A Seat at the Table. Solange took our hand and walked us through her mind. Clearly a musical genius - her music expanded the space in our soul to make room for her message. Let's isolate Mad for a second, which falls right in the middle of the album. Starting with the "Interlude: Dad Was Mad", a father speaks to his experience as a child living amongst a racist society, and how it made him so angry. Angry to have that experience thrust onto you and spoiling your innocence. Mad (feat. Lil Wayne) kicks in with the same piano keys this time following a strong beat. Laced with the harmonious sound of Solange's voice and biblical lyrics, Lil Wayne jumps in speaking to the anger. His experience grappling with people "all up in his cup" expecting a monetary return from him like they earned it. Most of all he talks about his suicide attempt and being mad when it didn't work, which is something he has never admitted publically before.
"Why you always talking shit, always be complaining? Why you always gotta be, why you always gotta be so..." (Be mad, be mad, be mad)
Mad (feat. Lil Wayne) dismantles the "angry black woman" stereotype. Solange has every right to be mad if she wants to. Her community is affected daily by unjust racist actions, staggering death rates by the hands of the police, and modern-day slavery due to mass incarceration. Mad (feat. Lil Wayne) is a song of reflection and freedom of emotion. It's a heavy hitter amongst the many other brilliant songs from A Seat at the Table. Truly timeless.
Cranes In The Sky
I can still see the pink puffy sleeves Solange donned in the video for Cranes In The Sky. This song has been hailed as one of the greatest tracks not only of contemporary R&B but of our generation. Amongst other things, it captures the pain and internal (& external) sadness Black people live with daily due to forces of racism attacking the community.
This is a sad song. She wrote it when she was in a sad place. Recently divorced and now a single mother brings pressure that you can't run from sometimes. With every lyric, she confesses the experimental actions she tried in order to rid herself of these heavy feelings but unfortunately,
"Its like cranes in the sky"
Don’t Touch My Hair (feat. Sampha)
It seems like every black woman resonated with this message when it dropped on ASATT in 2016. This is a direct response to the way non-black people love to assume they have access to black people's bodies - specifically their hair. Lot’s of black people can recall a time when someone violated their personal space for a chance to touch the curls and coils that everyone finds so interesting. Solange illustrates that black hair represents a lot of things; it represents the beauty and resilience of black people and piggybacks on the natural hair movement’s deconstruction of the idea of “bad hair”. Black hair is not bad hair, it is an adornment, something that non-whites cannot simply assume they have access to.
“F.U.B.U.” is a fun little homage to all things black. The song itself is named after Daymond Garfield John’s black-owned brand retail brand of the 2000s, ranking amongst brands like Kimora Lee Simmon’s Baby Phat, and Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Wear. She makes this song for all the ways black people have had their culture and their humanity stripped for them - but make no mistake, Solange is *very* clear this song is for just black folks, “for us”.
With its salacious instrumentals opening the track Solange is able to slide in with her angelic harmonies. Clocking in at 1:51, this Sister Nancy accolade is brief yet sharp like a vacation daydream. We've all been there - dreaming of hella blunts on hella yachts, which is why I love the idea of this song.
Carefree black girl anthem, period. Solo it starts naming all the black and brown elements of the culture, from liquor to brown skin, & black molasses. Her wordplay highlights all the simple little things around us that are black and brown - all black everything if you will. She blacks out the song, stating that blackness in itself can never be washed away; “not even in that Florida water.” So celebrate, because it’s here to stay.
A humble bop. “Stay Flo” means exactly what you think it would - stay the course. Solo mentions being “down on the floor” or being made to feel low, to be close to the ground because someone’s keeping you down. She describes the people we all know in some way or another, that like to “throw stones”, and open their mouth and “get all in their feelings”. I hear her describing this song as a “I’m going to keep doing me, no matter how much shit y’all have to say.” That’s the energy I’M trying to have.