I know this is probably a day late and a dollar short. But "A Seat at the Table" is the best album that I have heard in a very long time. For me, it was not only the best album of 2016. It is the only album in which I have found peace, protection, and reflection. Listening to the album every day (literally), it has taken on the role as a religious act for me. I listen to it for comfort, strength, and solace. It gets me through those metaphoric metal clouds that occasionally get in the way of my black girl magic. The simplistic way to describe this masterpiece by Solange is to call it a "black woman's anthem".
But no. This album is so much more than that for me. It accurately depicts all of the micro-aggressions, the thoughts that could never be expressed, the livelihood, passion and pain, the heart and soul that encompasses black womanhood. After Lauryn Hill's " The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" was released, I have felt this musical void . There was this lack of relatability and sheer authenticity that I found common among the music that I was listening to. I went on this musical journey to find an artist that made me feel proud to simply be a black woman, that feeling that I felt when I listened to Lauryn Hill. Solange immensely filled that void, and my musical journey to genuine artistry came to an end.
One of the most interesting aspects of "A Seat at the Table" is that Solange wrote, co-produced, arranged, created all of the images (including the Mona Lisa-inspired cover art), lyrics, and instrumentation associated with it. That impressive work alone speaks volumes. It shows how dedicated Solange is to her art. As a black woman, to have that much control over anything (especially over something as powerful as the album) is a protest against societal implications.
But the most unique facet of the album is Solange's soft tone. Her soft and sweet tone juxtaposes the troubling oppressions of race and black womanism that encompass the album. That is the beauty of it. I'm pretty sure that Solange did this intentionally. Usually, black women are criticized for being loud and mad all the time; this has forced the emergence of the stereotype in being the "angry black women". But Solange's voice throughout the album immediately shatters that stereotype. She beautifully expresses the complexities of what it means to be black with a sweet falsetto, one that is reminiscent of the sounds of Aaliyah.
This work of art has become an important part of my daily routine. It's my comfort when I am confronted with my own "cranes in the sky". It has vividly expressed and addressed the conversations that were always thought about but never talked about. It is a black woman's journal. And it is a work of art that brilliantly captures my heart, mind, and soul.