BEST R&B ALBUM OF 2016
Artist: – Solange Knowles
Album: – A Seat At The Table
A Seat At The Table, the third studio album from Solange Knowles was undoubtedly the best R&B album of 2016, wouldn’t you agree?
The album is an exquisite, thematically unified, affirming statement and discusses topics centred on the dual pain and joy of being a black woman, and revelling in it. Solange turned 30 in June this year and ‘A Seat at the Table’ appears to be the work of a woman that has truly grown into herself, and discovered within, a clear, exhilarating statement of self-belief.
This LP could function as document of historical significance; purely for its overwhelming sensibilities, in particular the way in which it captures black cultural and social history with robust wealth, and precision.
What separates “A Seat At The Table” from all her previous is made evident on just one listen. In comparison to past efforts, it’s on a different plane, more so it’s a detailed exploration into the struggle of the black woman in 2016, in America and throughout history.
Solange confronts current painful indignities, placing them within songs, most notably her reactions to the superficially relentless killing of black women and men at the hands of the US police. The scope of the record allows you to appreciate the genius Solange has become, by encompassing her narrative in first-person with interludes from her mother Tina and father Mathew, there’s a sinuating release and freeness, an emotional openness by such regard of thought provoking moments.
Intro with “Rise” includes layers of piano with jazz elements, with Solange’s vocal, such a blessing, serving as a peaceful encouragement to thrive. The overlay of “Rise” is surprising, conveying multiple emotions of agony, vanity and sadness.
The euphoric “Cranes in the Sky,” speaks volumes to me and is my favourite on the album. What I find so touching about Solange explicitly documents her process of handling; down to the smallest escape mechanisms. She sings about sexing, running, alcohol and spending in an effort to be free from mental oppression and mental discomfort, making her situation apparent the kinds of mundane things we all do in the service of a temporary reprieve.
A Seat at the Table also consists of several interludes; highlights include Master P’s on No Limit’s success as a black-owned record label. The interlude later leads into (F.U.B.U.) “For Us, By Us”, a peanut butter and jam spread of black affirmation, “This shit is for us/Don’t try to come for us.” Her plush harmonies build a protective barrier: “Some shit,” she sings, “you can’t touch.” Capturing the essence of black history and declaring that this is our own and you cant have none.
The Album nature is benevolent, and at its spiritual core it is an ode to BLACK women their healing and sustenance in particular; in writing about herself, Solange turns the mirror back upon them, Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews are the perfect match to blend harmonies and vibes with, this song infuses and corresponds to encapsulate the flawless mix known as “Scales,” A mantra of serenity, compassion and healing in a kettle blowing progression, could be described as a sex jam of course, Solange You’re a superstar, thank you for the album.