Why I’m Glad I took a Seat at Solange’s Table

Words by: Nicole Lovett

After Solange released her long awaited album, A Seat at the Table, I did not immediately rush to listen. I appreciated Solange’s music and style–I would watch her music videos for Losing You and Lovers in The Parking Lot over and over, but that was the extent of my obsession. I knew that Solange was unique, with a fresh sound, and a massive following. Of course the album would do well with whatever she decided to bring to the table–but, being just a casual fan, I wasn’t inclined to partake in the hype.

Then my peers started raving about the album. A common adjective I heard to describe the record was “healing.” I was skeptical. I assumed the album was good, but maybe not a spiritual experience. I assumed that people were just saying this because they loved Solange (and Beyoncé) unconditionally. Then I started to listen–and found that they were right.

Within the album, Solange threads together themes of mental health, empowerment, and pro-blackness. I was not expecting it, but the ease of the sound, the grace of Solange’s voice, along with

The opening track, “Rise,” repeats the same verse that sets the tone for the album:

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 song, like much of the album, has a gentle, calm sound. It complimented the impactful but simple lyrics. I took the song as to be true to myself, to have faith in myself, and try to stay strong throughout daily life.

“Don’t Touch My Hair” (track nine) was also simple sonically, and beautiful lyrically. The first verse reads:

Don’t touch my hair

When it’s the feelings I wear

Don’t touch my soul

When it’s the rhythm I know

Don’t touch my crown

They say the vision I’ve found

Don’t touch what’s there

When it’s the feelings I wear

It’s no secret that black women’s hair, bodies, and minds are often trespassed and not respected. “Don’t Touch My Hair” was refreshing and healing to hear because it gave voice to all the times someone invaded my space without asking, and how I was expected to take it. And since many black people in general have stories of random people touching their hair or being disgusted by it–it’s easy to see why this song would resonate so deeply. “Don’t Touch My Hair” confirms something many black people wish the world could know–that black hair is important, beautiful, and sacred.

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“Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)” (track fourteen) opens:

We been lovers on a mission

We been lovers on a mission (All the way)

But what’s love without a mission?

We been lovers on a mission (All the way)

So let’s take an intermission

The concept of self-care is becoming a more common practice (I found about it on Tumblr), but it might be safe to say the concept is still widely unknown. With the impact Solange has had with this album, hopefully it will encourage people to be more gentle and forgiving with themselves.

From an interview with W Magazine, Solange speaks on this song extensively:

“You know, I probably wrote that because I need to manifest it more in my life. Even in the midst of this last week with the multiple murders of young black men that occurred, I chose this time not to watch. Just for the sake of being able to exist in that day, to exist without rage, and exist without heartbreak. To be able to get up and tell my child to have a wonderful day and know that he’ll be protected and nurtured and loved and treated like an equal contributor to society, I sometimes have to choose to not look. My husband and I share a lot in common in our yearning to see equality in this country. Sometimes throughout that, [self-care] becomes a mission within itself. That song was an ode to how our home becomes a safe space, where we can just love and not deal with some of the intensities that go along with existing in these spaces. That means so much to me.”

These songs and the meanings behind them are just a sample of the powerful sound and message behind A Seat at the Table. I’m so glad that I listened to friends who were extensively, passionately writing about Solange and her new release. I was surprised by how powerful I felt after listening to the album, as well as how at ease I was.

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A Seat at the Table is perfect for people who are feeling broken, insecure, or powerless. More specifically, it is suited for black people who need healing and empowerment within their identity and mind.

As Solange sings in “F.U.B.U,” This shit is for us.


Nicole Lovett is a writer from Oakland, CA. She is the editor in chief of marginsmagazine.com. You can find her on Instagram @thebosseditor and on Twitter @mynameislovett

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