29 Oct AN ODE TO SOLANGE
“I’m gonna look for my glory yeah, I’ll be back like real soon.”
The first time I learned about Solange was after her brief cameo in Destiny Child’s ‘Soldier’, and I remember being surprised by how much she looked like her older sister, Beyonce. My next encounter with Solange happened to be when I came across her catchy ‘Sandcastle Disco’ video on a late afternoon in 2009. Now that I think about it, she actually looked like a young Diana Ross in that video (maybe? No? Maybe not).
Over the years, I heard little about Solange except from stumbling upon aesthetically pleasing pictures of her occasionally. Then came along the infamous elevator incident. I remember watching the footage and thinking Solange seemed somewhat protective of her older sister, if indeed, she was fighting for her sister. The world called her crazy then, but the silver lining was that it somewhat brought her into the main spotlight. Solange has definitely been around musically for a while with her previous body of works. However, not enough people were paying attention. Eventually, her eccentric style became a topic of conversation (shout out to Solange for giving us some unforgettable Met Gala moments). Perhaps a breakthrough moment could be attributed to the official pictures from her wedding last year; The wedding portrait that many tried to copy and failed woefully because no one does it as effortlessly as the Knowles.
Solange has also not been ashamed of being seen as pro-black and has never shied away from expressing her views and pain on social media. A couple of months ago, she participated in a peaceful black lives matter protest in Baton Rouge.
“Solange’s packaging of brutal honesty in tender, harmony-rich murmurs is both beautiful and radical” – Maura Johnston, RollingStone
The main reason I am writing this is because I had never fully appreciated Solange till the moment I listened to her fourth album: the politically charged, yet personal ‘A Seat At The Table’. Till that moment, I had only heard ‘sandcastle disco’ years ago and I was not quite sure of what to expect. However, immediately Solange’s voice kicks in, accompanied with the soft piano in the background on ‘Rise’, I knew I was listening to something unfamiliar, yet soothing. As the song fades into the soft, ’weary’, I just had to sit down and take it all in because it suddenly felt like Solange was speaking for me. In breathy sounds that ought to let the words be escapable, each line hits you hard. “I’m weary of the ways of the world/ Be leery ‘bout your place in the world, you’re feeling like you’re chasing the world”. ‘Cranes in the sky’ comes on next and I am sure my soul left my body at some point. It was easy for me to get lost in the pretty, lulling sounds but after taking a moment to actually listen, I realised that Solange was talking about a place we have all been, when we can’t seem to outrun our troubles no matter what we do to chase ‘it’ away.
‘Mad’ was that song that felt like Solange was actually speaking to me. ‘I’ve got a lot to be mad about/ You got the right to be mad, but when you carry it alone, you find it only getting in the way. They say you gotta let it go.’ and that easily became my top favourite. Not only is Solange speaking to me, but also for every frustrated black person living in a world that cannot seem to understand why we still hold so much anger. The world just sees it as us forever ‘complaining’ and ‘blaming’, and like Solange concludes, ‘But I’m not really allowed to be mad.’ However, Solange seems to redeem us by making F.U.B.U, a song purposefully selective. A song that encourages you to be proud and celebrate being black. An anthem for us, by us.
I love how Solange uses a soft, gentle and soothing style to talk about politically heavy topics such as race, bodily autonomy, (identity), empowerment and personal experiences with sorrow/ grief and healing. She executes this by intertwining R&B, Soul, Funk and Jazz to create a body of art worthy of its strong narrative. So far, the visuals have been nothing short of breathtaking. I have also come to see Solange as one who is unafraid to feel and be free, one unapologetic for being born the way they are. I look at Solange and see art; a vessel and an embodiment of strength, beauty, resilience, empathy, defiance- all things black and a shinning light bursting with a shitload of talent. Most of all, I think what really stands out about Solange is growth. Both personal and musical, in terms of style, sound, mind and quality.
“Solange, I knew when you were born three days late that you would walk to the beat of your own drum. You were always my rebel warrior! Always defending the underdog and fighting for what you believe in…I love that you do not let others define who you are, or what you are. Whether in your music, fashion or your life, you truly are your own incredible, unapologetic person!” – Tina Lawson’s open mother’s day letter to her daughters
I think of Solange and I’m reminded of everything I want to be: fearless, unapologetic..free.
An ode to Solange; don’t let anybody steal your magic.