I am enamored with A Seat at the Table. It has acted as the needle that threads together my entire being, and all the links to my family, my spirit, my rage, my struggles, and power. It works beyond representation: not only do I see myself in the mirror, but I am recognized as regal. So much to unpack and learn, which I am gaining more context from Solange’s interviews and subsequent essays from others musing on this masterpiece.
A Seat at the Table stages artful, grounded pictures of the ephemeral. Phenomena like institutional racism and other indignities are entrenched in the fabric of the country. It is in the air here. We know its strategies well. The knowledge doesn’t preclude that at any given time, the air can coalesce into a “metal cloud,” can freshly distress you. A Seat uncovers these moments, gives loose shape to both them and the consequences they wreak. So much of this album documents, with colossal beauty, the way environments conspire to ruin or lift the moods of black people. For Mathew Knowles on “Interlude: Dad Was Mad,” the surroundings are the fallout from school integration. For Lil Wayne, clarified and vulnerable on the twinkling “Mad,” it’s general despair. Whatever the cause, Knowles makes room for the effects, the weariness, and the defiance. Knowles is unmoved by didacticism, by referential storytelling. She prefers traditions like anguish, annoyance, aggression, pride, haughtiness, and jubilance, and in that order. She maps the escalation of feeling.
Doreen St. Felix, “In Solange’s Room“
She recognizes that anger can be a burden on our souls, that it can keep us from our true potential as black Americans. This is why she invites her mother, Tina Lawson, to remind us that there’s “so much beauty in being black.” The conversations with her parents harken to a black childhood of hearing your elders sit around the kitchen table, engaged in conversation, sharing grievances, and laughing over joyous shared experiences. When Solange named her album A Seat at the Table, it wasn’t about black people clamoring for a seat at the proverbial table of whiteness. After all, as Erykah Badu once sang, “Don’t feed me yours / ’Cause your food does not endure.” We don’t need a seat at any other table — we have our own. And once we’re nourished, we’ll juba down.
Ira Madison III, “Solange’s Feast“
Diamond Sharp, “Sonic Healing”
Bim Adewunmi, “‘A Seat At The Table’ Contemplates Black Life’s Contradictions”
Judnick Mayard, “A Seat With Us: A Conversation between Solange Knowles, Mrs. Tina Lawson, & Judnick Mayard”
Anupa Mistry, “An Honest Conversation with Solange Knowles“
By the time this piece comes out, you’ll know that Master P actually narrates my album. I remember being a teenager, much like many teenagers at the time, and seeing Master P on MTV Cribs, and it being one of the most gaudy, incredible displays of wealth that I had ever seen in my life. It really impacted me that, out of all the houses on MTV Cribs, this was a black man from New Orleans, and he got this by completely staying firm in his independence. As a teenager, and my family being in the industry, I would hear my dad talk about No Limit and how they never sold their company and how they started from the trunks, from nowhere, from nothing. It left a huge impression on me. I saw a lot of my father in Master P, and him in my father, as young black men who dreamed really big and manifested those dreams. Although I, like everybody else, loved “Hoody Hoo” and TRU and all of the No Limit jams, I, at a very young age, felt a deep, deep connection with his story.
Solange on Master P, from “Solange Shares Her Inspirations for A Seat at the Table” by Tom Breihan
Review: Michael Jackson’s Dangerous by Jeff Weiss
“The Anti-Blackness of Interracial Porn” by CiCo3
“The Final Countdown – Getting Ready for the final PhD Years” from PhDivas Podcast (XIne Yao & Liz Wayne)
First episode of season 2 of the Pineapple Diaries!