In an early track, Weary, on Solange’s third full-length, she sings, “I’m gonna look for my body / I’ll be back real soon.” Her search becomes a journey with no quick or easy return. Filled with anger, pain and grief, she’s seeking to reclaim herself in a world where the Black body has been denigrated and objectified. A world where Tulsa police could describe Terence Crutcher, a Black man, as looking like a “bad dude” before fatally shooting him in September.
There’s a weariness to Solange’s album, a realization that the Black identity, stripped of its dimensionality and packaged for mainstream entertainment, has left us all looking like bad dudes to some degree in the eyes of others. So when she nods to a 90s fashion brand in F.U.B.U (an acronym for “for us, by us”) and sings, “This shit is for us,” it’s not so much a demand for racial exclusivity as an effort to wrest who we are away from the dominant narrative and describe ourselves to ourselves in all our richness and complexity.
Weariness gives way to willingness as Solange unpacks and ultimately celebrates Blackness, from the politics of Black hair in Don’t Touch My Hair (featuring Sampha) to a reclamation of Black masculinity in Scales (featuring Kelela).
The eight interludes – with recollections from her parents, Mathew Knowles and Tina Lawson, and No Limit mogul Master P, three incredibly successful people who overcame hardships directly tied to ethnicity and asserted their own identities – are essential to this narrative. They didn’t rise by asking mainstream America to accommodate them, but by pulling up chairs and making their own place at the table.
Top track: Cranes In The Sky
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