Given that A Seat at the Table took Solange Knowles four long years to complete, we wanted to give ourselves an ample amount of time to digest it. On Twitter, Solange said that the True EP was meant to "provoke joy & to challenge what we know as Pop," while A Seat at the Table is "a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing." All of which is to say: There's a lot to discuss.
As Mayard states, "It is an album for black women made by one black woman. In speaking her personal truth, Solange has created a meditation not just for herself but for so many seeking safe space, asylum, and peace, for those who seek to maintain their dignity and regality in the face of condescension, lies, aggression, violence, and murder."
Rather than rush into a review, we thought it would be more appropriate to share our reactions. Sit down, pull up a seat to our virtual table, and read this discussion containing our overflowing thoughts for all 21 tracks in the gallery, below.
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Sydney Gore: The first time that I listened to this song, I was actually in bed trying to get myself to fall asleep. (But I was waiting for the album to drop, so I had to stay awake!) I already felt like Solange was speaking to my soul with those angelic harmonies. It's like we are being invited to be a part of the journey, and I am here for it.
Taylor Bryant: There's a journalist I follow on Twitter who, every morning without fail, tweets: "I'm awake, I'm up, I'm blessed." I've never been a person who entertained affirmations until I reached my 20s, and though this is such a simple declaration, it's always stuck with me. The act of living, let alone waking up every morning to greet another day, is a task that humans don't get enough credit for doing. Nor do we acknowledge it enough. This song, for me, sits alongside Kanye's "Ultralight Beam" and Chance's "Blessings"—both songs that I seek out in my morning playlists on Spotify. Albeit not as overtly religious as either, it's one of those songs that forces you to, well, rise, welcome the sun, and, most importantly, reminds you to walk in your truth every day so that you can wake up in the morning with the same semblance of peace you managed to go to sleep with.
Tina Vaden: I'm so here for an intro track, and this one served as the perfect preparation for the intergalactic neo-soul soundscape that I was about to dive into. This track serves as a calling to me: to stand in my truth and have the permission to fall apart as I walk in my ways, so that at the end of each day, I can reflect and rise anew the next, ready for whatever may be ahead, with strength and knowledge from where I've just been. It's a mantra for one ready and unafraid to meet themselves.
Sydney: Being a black woman in America means having every inch of your body scrutinized by mainstream society. When Solange sings, "I'm gonna look for my body yeah/ I'll be back real soon," it just makes me think about the ongoing struggle of feeling comfortable in your own skin. We have to be careful with everything that we do, which is ironic when you think about it in terms of the "carefree black girl" archetype. Every day that you survive is a reminder that you do belong here.
Taylor: The black body, and America's tradition of vehemently destroying it, is something that writer Ta-Nehisi Coates frequently writes about. It's something that's been accepted for centuries and is something that black people commonly have to relearn to actively reclaim. This song, for me, echoes the point of Solange's essay she penned a couple of weeks ago: Despite how beaten down and tortured you may feel in this world—and despite how often people might try to convince you that you don't belong—you deserve to take up space just as much as the next person, if not more.
Tina: I heard the chorus of this song and immediately thought, Same girl, same. The ways of this world are wearisome; specifically the Western/American world, in which people of color are told day in and day out by external sources that they are less than and unworthy of the rights and privileges of their white counterparts. Watching people that look like me in the news, as they go from getting lynched to gunned down regularly, is wearisome. Being told by magazines and media outlets that my beauty is not worth being showcased is wearisome. Watching fashion houses play dress up in other people's ceremonial attire and hair styles while refusing to acknowledge or credit their sources is wearisome. Solange seems to share this sentiment and encourages us here to look away and find, or even create, a new version of "the world." Find a place where your body is acknowledged as worthy of justice, of life, honored for the divine vessel that it is. Be leery of the version of yourself projected by "the world" and listen to that voice that says you belong. Because you do.
“Interlude: The Glory Is In You”
Sydney: Who knew that I needed Master P to remind me of the importance of being at peace with myself in order to carry on in this universe?
Taylor: Full disclosure: I didn't know this was Master P preaching such truths throughout the album until I read the roundtable discussion with Solange on her website. It almost makes me want to pick up his book (yes, he has a book) just so I can carry more of his words with me. Almost.
Tina: Master P! Come through!
“Cranes in the Sky”
Sydney: No matter what remedy you choose, you can't escape sadness. Sometimes you have to let it wash over you and then float away on its own. Solange literally narrates exactly what I go through. For me, sadness comes in waves, and I can't really predict when I'm going to be hit by it, but when it finally does, I almost drown in it.
Taylor: People take on vices all of the time to get through the everyday motions of life. Maybe yours comes in the form of alcohol, weed, working out, traveling, or isolating yourself, we all do what we need to do to get by. Don't let the upbeat tempo of the song fool you, the message is just as piercing as the other 20 tracks on the album.
Tina: I have at some point in my life utilized every one of these methods in an attempt to not feel. It can feel so much easier to reach outward and work and run and dance and escape than it is to hunker down and be present with the weight of myself. Sometimes, I'm just not ready for all of the realness and the feels. However, eventually, all of the things I do to get away from can make things worse, and the original pain that I've been trying to escape is right there waiting for me. As someone who doesn't enjoy creating more work for myself, this song serves as a reminder that it's okay to take a break and escape a little, but it serves me best to do the work of healing sooner rather than later.
“Interlude: Dad Was Mad”
Sydney: HearingMr. Knowles describe his experiences during the Civil Rights movement reminds me that we are not far removed from those times. Its first wave started nearly 62 years ago, but only ended in the late 1960s. I think it's so important to be exposed to these personal stories outside of the borders of a classroom. I'm not trying to diminish the extremity of the issues that our society is currently dealing with, but I can't deny the privilege that my parents gave me in that I was raised in the suburbs of a relatively diverse town where race wasn't really a major issue on the surface. My grandmother was born and raised in Alabama, and she doesn't even talk about what her childhood was like because it was that traumatic. She hasn't gone back since she left with her siblings.
Taylor: I try to weasel stories out of my grandmother about her upbringing in Pennsylvania whenever she'll let me. She's quick to share how she walked two miles to and from school every day and how she was forced to shout answers in her integrated classrooms to get her teacher to even acknowledge her presence. Though she didn't experience the outright racism Solange's dad talks about in his clip (at least if she did, she has yet to share those stories with me), their experiences touch on the same sentiment: having to overcome barriers and feelings that you are less than. With the racial climate of the country now—and with headlines that can pass for ones from the '60s—it makes me wonder how society expects us to notbe mad.
Tina: My grandparents and my parents have experienced so many intersections of racism in this broken institution we still live in. My grandfather, who passed just a few days before this album was released, grew up in Louisiana in the '40s to '60s and marched in the first Million Man March. I was privileged in comparison to him, in that I grew up in the late-'80s and '90s in a variety of cities in southern California. As a child, I couldn't understand why my grandfather got so angry when speaking about his upbringing, about whiteness, and about the wrongs that, in my mind, had happened "so long ago." I was allowed to be naive until I wasn't, and as I continue to accumulate my own experiences with racism, microaggressions, and white supremacy, I understand so much more why he stayed so mad. I could never fathom the demoralizing demands of his childhood and young adulthood as a black man in the South. I still can't.
“Mad” Ft. Lil Wayne
Sydney: This is what I like to call an ode to the "angry black woman." Too often, we are told (by white people) how we are allowed to feel. During times of grief, they question our display of emotions. I remember how rude some people were when Alton Sterling's family was delivering their statement about his murder on national television. His son was soaking his tears in his shirt while his wife maintained her composure on the podium. The sight of it all broke my heart, but some people had the nerve to say that she clearly wasn't a good mother because she should have been consoling her son instead of worrying about doing a speech.
Unless you have experienced the burden of a loved one being murdered by the police, you have no right to give advice on how someone should conduct themselves. I can't even imagine all of the pain she continues to go through. Every time I see a hashtag with the name of another person of color taken by individuals abusing their position of power, I refer to this powerful statement created by Weiden + Kennedy. All of the rage that builds up inside you is so exhausting that, after a while, you become desensitized to it. In an essay published on NOISEY in 2014, Kayla Phillips discusses how the "angry black woman" stereotype intersects within white-washed subcultures. She writes:
Solidarity isn't white guilt and apologies for being white. No one is asking for that. Solidarity is awareness, and the ability to listen if you say you're going to. It's standing beside me or behind me, not in front of me. It's the ability to look at oneself and break down internalized issues, instead of tokenizing someone. It's realizing that not all spaces and conversations are about you personally.
In a way, I think that this song conveys all of these feelings.
Taylor: "You have a right to be mad" is the line that every black person needs to hear. Now, what you choose to do with that anger and how you channel it—and hopefully, eventually, release it—is up to you. Like Sydney said, the "angry black woman" is a trope that many black women get saddled with. Nothing's worse than telling a person how they feel or are supposed to feel. But as Solange speak-sings, "I got a lot to be mad about." Black people, as a whole, have a lot to be mad about, the key is to not hold on to that anger and "let it go, let it go, let it go."
Tina: I couldn't agree more with what Sydney and Taylor said. This year alone, I have had to tell so many friends of mine—who kept sending me yoga routines to manifest peace, or whatever—that I appreciated their sentiment, but that I also had every right to be angry with the current state of affairs; that when I was ready to "breathe out peace and love," I would let them know. And, in the meantime, maybe they should stop trying to tell their black and POC friends how to feel and wrestle with their own discomfort with others' outrage. Eventually, my rage simmered and I was able to channel my experience and my anger in a creative way. That's not everyone's journey, however, and I respect deeply the varying paths it takes for folks to get to where they're headed.
“Don't You Wait”
Sydney: First off,I love the guitars on this track—shout-outs to Adam Bainbridge and David Longstreth. In general, you could argue that most of these songs are a "clap back" to something, but this one addresses a specific incident wherein Solange was accused of being ungrateful for not appreciating her white, indie audience after she dropped the True EP. (See the verse "Now, I don't want to bite the hand that'll show me the other side, no/ But I didn't want to build the land that has fed you your whole life, no.") Overall, it's about fighting for the freedom of self-expression without the constraints of predominately white spaces, and I think that anyone who works in a creative world where they don't always have full control of executing their vision can relate.
Taylor: I never realized how trying it is to exist in a predominantly white space until I started working in the real world. I grew up in a super-diverse suburban town where race was more or less something that people "didn't see." It worked, for the most part. White, black, Hispanic, Asian students commingled at parties like it was nothing. I attended bar and bat mitzvahs regularly. A majority of my close friends were white. But once I stepped into a corporate setting, things shifted. Suddenly, I was aware of my blackness more than ever. Whether it was when I looked up from my desk and realized I was only one of a peppering of people who looked like me in my department or when I was assigned any and all stories that have to do with black culture. The line that Sydney calls out, about biting the hand that'll show you the other side, rings true to me this past year more than ever, and I think people of color wrestle with this constraint daily. Do you call out your company for its lack of diversity and run the risk of coming across as too "sensitive" or "aggressive"? Do you go and find your own space where you're not the token? Do you bite your tongue and stick it out? I digress. But I think my point is: You carry a lot of weight as a minority and that fight for freedom of self-expression is just one of many pounds we struggle to unpack.
“Interlude: Tina Taught Me”
Sydney: How lucky are we to get to know Mrs. Tina Lawson through her daughters? Solange and Beyoncé are on another level, so you know they got it from their mother. Some things can't be taught; some things are inherited. Listening to this recording of Miss Tina speaking about black pride fills my heart with so much vigor. Miss Tina deserves a standing ovation.
Taylor: Remember how I said the line "You have a right to be mad" is what every black person needs to hear? Well, this clip is what every white person needs to hear, if for this quote alone:
It really saddens me when we're not allowed to express that pride in being black and that, if you do, it's considered anti-white. No, you're just pro-black and that's okay. The two don't go together. Because you celebrate black culture, does not mean that you don't like white culture, or that you're putting it down. It's just taking pride in it.
Anytime someone brings up the Black Lives Matter vs. All Lives Matter argument, feel free to direct them to this wisdom from Ms. Knowles. And also her Instagram because it deserves to have more eyes on it.
Tina: I got teary-eyed the first time I heard this, and echo Taylor's thoughts about this being a track that white people need to sit down and listen to on repeat for a minute. The lines that rang the loudest for me were "I've always been proud to be black. Never wanted to be nothing else. Loved everything about it, just..." I remember learning that some of my peers wanted to be white at some point and it made me so sad. That there is a message of unworthiness to internalize in the first place is the first disservice in that dynamic, followed by the lack of celebration of each type of difference that each individual embodies. I always knew I was different, for reasons that include but also lie deeper than the color of my skin, but I thought that made me special. Even when other people couldn't see my brown skin as beautiful, even when they made me cry for it, I never wanted to be anything else. I was lucky enough to be supported and celebrated in some spaces and therefore felt proud of my blackness; it was those who couldn't see me for it that I always hoped would open their eyes.
“Don't Touch My Hair” feat. Sampha
Sydney: When I listen to this song, I envision the brilliant work of photographer Nakeya Brown. Her pieces showcase the various complexities of the relationship between black women and their hair. For black women, your hair is a direct reflection of who you are as a person, so you take great pride in taking care of it. I feel like every black girl has a tragic story about her hair, but in the end, we all learn to love ourselves more because of it. The verse where Solange sings, "You know this hair is my shit/ Rode the ride, I gave it time/ But this here is mine" makes me think about how our hair is constantly in a state of growth, and so are we.
Taylor: Solange once tweeted her disdain with the natural hair police, expressing that her hair isn't that big of a deal to her and it shouldn't be for other people, either. I think it's safe to say her feelings have changed on the matter. Black hair will always be politicized. Even if you are just big chopping to give your hair a break from chemicals, you're going to be met with assumptions that you're choosing to do so to rebel against the Eurocentric ideals of beauty. And vice versa, if you choose to straighten your hair every day. Black hair is layered, whether we want it to be or not; it's our crown, our glory, our pride. And just like you wouldn't dare reach your hand toward, say, Queen Elizabeth II's crown, don't touch ours either.
I'd also like to give a shout-out to the visuals for this song. The scenes of Sampha and Solange dancing speaks to my soul, but the end scene of Solange dancing with a clan of black people dressed in all-white standing on the steps is my everything.
Tina: I screamed at my desk when this track came on, no joke. I have been touched and pet and had my curls reached into from youth to adulthood, mostly by (white) adults in both settings. Don't do it. Keep your hands to yourself people. This is my crown and I am not an animal for you to touch whenever you feel curious. Sampha's voice mixing with Solange's is all of my afro-futuristic dreams come true. This song is like a magic spell to ward off the unwanted.
“Interlude: This Moment”
Sydney: I really need a tape of Master P giving advice for every aspect of life.
Taylor: Seriously, more Master P, please.
Tina: Who knew that Master P was our Tony Robbins?
“Where Do We Go”
Sydney: My interpretation of this song is learning how to start over and rebuild yourself from scratch. I have always been a firm believer in not defining your identity based on a place. I am not attached to the town or the state that I was raised in. To me, "home" is a state of mind.
Taylor: For me, this song is open-ended. State of mind or not, I think everyone likes to have something physical—be it a partner, a town, an apartment—that they can call home. Somewhere they belong and feel safe. For black people, these places are constantly being taken away from us; constantly being threatened. And when that happens, it's natural to wonder where to go next.
Tina: This feels like a break-up song, for me, and one I can relate strongly with. It's not often that my world falls apart after parting ways with someone I've cared deeply for, but it's super challenging to get my bearings back right away. Even after the most amicable splits, it's been disorienting to go from sharing your life with someone to not, and it has taken a few reminders that some places were not where I belonged anymore.
“Interlude: For Us By Us”
Sydney: Master P is clearly the originator of "know yourself, know your worth." We have to take control of our own narratives and not be concerned that everyone isn't going to "get it."
Taylor: "If you don't understand my record, you don't understand me, so this is not for you." This, this, a million times this.
Tina: "If you don't understand my record, you don't understand me, so this is not for you." Mic drop and applause. [Looks up and sees Taylor quoted the same line, and laughs.]
"F.U.B.U.” feat. The Dream & BJ The Chicago Kid
Sydney: Growing up, I was taught that the n-word was the most offensive word in the English language. My parents and grandparents never ever said it, especially not around me. On rare occasions, I would hear someone mutter "negro," but that's as far as it went. So, for me, it has always been a weird word to come to terms with in popular culture, especially in the context of white spaces. But when this track comes on, I want to shout these verses at the top of my lungs: "All my niggas let the whole world know/ Play this song and sing it on your terms/ For us/ This shit is for us/ Don't try to come for us." Can we please bring FUBU back?
Taylor: RT RT what Sydney said above. Saying the n-word in my household was equivalent to saying Voldemort in Hogwarts. It's a generational thing, definitely. For our parents and grandparents, the word will forever be a racial slur. While, today, it's been reclaimed to be seen as a term of empowerment—endearment, even. There's no better example of that than in this song. This was the first song I starred from the album, partially because it was the one I related to the most, but also because it was the one I could see myself revisiting. Just in case anybody was confused by the subject content of the previous 12 songs, also, yes, this shit is for us. Y'all have the "whole wide world," let us have this one thing.
Tina: I can't say the n-word, and I can't get on board with the n-word. I've done my best, but I just can't reclaim something that's got such a history of hate. No shade toward those that choose to, though, and I always giggle a little when I hear Solange or her sister use it. It's like hearing your grandparents curse when you're finally old enough to sit at the adult table at a family gathering. You don't have to love it, but you can appreciate that it's happening, and its use in this song is all the more a sign of inclusivity. Anyone hearing this song, hearing the n-word, knows who this song is for and for whom it is not.
“Borderline (An Ode To Self Care)” feat. Q-Tip
Sydney: This past year, I started taking self-care seriously. In the span of three months, I graduated from college in D.C., moved out of my parent's house and into my own apartment, and started working at my first full-time job in NYC. (It has been quite the whirlwind, to say the least.) In the beginning, I would get so preoccupied with my work that it would burn me out. Sometimes you really need someone to remind you that you deserve a break even if it's only a few hours. I will definitely be putting this song on rotation the next time I take a dip in a warm salt bath.
Taylor: Self-care is something that my mom always drilled into my sister's and I's heads when we were growing up. The importance of taking care of yourself and putting yourself first from time to time isn't selfish; it's necessary. I think, for a lot of people, this album is also going to serve as just that: an act of self-care.
Tina: I wouldn't have made it into this third decade of life with any modicum of sanity without self-care. It's something I have to remind myself to dedicate time to, but the truth is if I'm not taking care of myself first, I have nothing left for others, and I turn into a brat real quick. I care a lot about the energy I put out into the world, and even though it's tempting to put myself last and run myself ragged, with work and events and, well, life, there comes a point where I can't even enjoy anything unless I pause, turn in, turn off, and take care.
“Interlude: I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It” ft. Kelly Rowland and Nia Andrews
Sydney: What really sticks with me here is the line "Don't let anybody steal your magic." As far as I'm concerned, black girl magic is real and I don't care if non-black people feel excluded by it. My cousins deserve to feel special, and if this term fills them with pride, then I will protect their right to use it however they please.
Taylor: Sometimes your cup of black girl magic overfloweth and, when that happens, it's okay to pass it along to someone who might need it.
Tina: KELLYYY!!!! I don't have anything deep to say about this one other than I love Kelly Rowland, I want to know more about Nia Andrews, and it makes me so happy to hear these women smiling! You can literally hear their smiles at the end, and I can't help but turn up with them.
Sydney: For some reason, this song reminds me of my dad's side of the family. The track is inspired by Junie Morrison, a legendary funk musician from Ohio. Coincidentally, my grandfather has lived in Cleveland since before I was born. My fondest childhood memories of our visits up there are celebrating Thanksgiving in his house with my aunts, uncles, and cousins. While all of the adults spend days preparing all of the food, my cousins and I would escape to Dave & Buster's.
Taylor: When Solange sings "But what you gonna do when they saw all your moves and practiced em daily/ Protect your neck or give invitations?" I interpret it as a nod to the cultural appropriation conversation that's been very prevalent recently. When white models, celebrities, and designers take what's historically belonged to us forever, are you going to call them out or invite them in?
Tina: "Let's go to moonlight, then they will never find, Let's go to home, free from the mother mind..." Solange's message of getting up out of this place that doesn't seem to want us anyway, and creating our own freedom and our own home is so ideal. I would go to the moon and back with Solange and her crew, and I imagine that magical space ride would include the flyest of the fly together with all of the funkiest sounds and... please come get me, seriously.
“Interlude: No Limits”
Sydney: Both sides of my family come from a military background—both of my grandfathers served this country, and my dad grew up on military bases. Thus, the men in my family are firm believers in hard work, respect, and obedience.
Taylor: Sometimes, you have to carve out your own space if you need to get to where you need to go. Not everybody is going to help you out along the way.
Tina: My mother was a black woman in the Marines in the '80s. She's told me my whole life about her experiences and the things she observed there, and I have always been in awe of her strength and her refusal to listen to what her limits were. I don't think she knows how those stories shaped me. She taught me, just by being, that I too could go above and beyond what others laid out for me as my limit. I do this every day.
“Don't Wish Me Well”
Sydney: This song immediately struck me with the following: "Surprise, bitch. I bet you thought you'd seen the last of me." Yes, I really did just make a reference to Scream Queens, but the point is that Solange will have the last word, and whatever doubts you had about her, she's going to prove you wrong.
Taylor: Solange is going to thrive with you by her side or not. Point, blank, period.
Tina: This song is so musically thrilling, in addition to being lyrically striking. I hear a nod to Solange's evolution as an artist in this one, and she's is letting you know that she's doing her. You're welcome to come along for the vibrant-ass ride, but the magic school bus is leaving with or without you.
Sydney: I feel like you don't realize how high you put someone on a pedestal until you see them for who they really are. Unfortunately, the media gets a bad rep for "ruining" people, but when you're actually working within this industry, you really see how the other half lives. I have zero interest in celebrities anymore, which is why I have so much trouble understanding how anyone can devote their life to being a stan for some of these figures.
Taylor: It's hard to remember that celebrities are actually real people, with real feelings, and real problems. This line from Master P breaks me in half: "For us, you can't pull a plug on us and tell us it's over. Not me."
Tina: "Black kids have to figure it out! We don't have rehabs to go to. You gotta rehab yourself." I chuckled at this line, but it's only funny because it's true. It's not just drugs, either. You gotta rehab yourself, mental health yourself, figure out a way through whatever challenge life may have placed in front of you yourself... and you get to work through systemic disparity on top of it all. Master P drops another knowledge bomb. Boom.
“Scales” feat. Kelela
Taylor: This album, as a whole, is very clearly a U-turn from Solange's True pop days. You're not going to hear these songs in the club (unless you go to a very, very woke one), you might not even hear them on the radio. They're songs you listen to in the solitude of your home, during an intimate get-together with your closest girlfriends on a Sunday morning before church. They're songs you sit with, take in, and digest over time. This is one of many I can't wait to sit with even more.
Tina: The vocal offerings on this track are so stellar, and the continuation of the "pedestal" theme is apparent. It continues with the idea that this world we see on TV and the lifestyles that we are taught to emulate aren't worth all that because they're just not real.
"Closing: The Chosen Ones”
Sydney: I just want to say that this album should not be solely reviewed through the spectrum of Beyoncé. While these sisters have the same DNA and the same family history, they are not the same person. I'm sure that they are both inspired by each other in many ways, but it's not fair to either of them to constantly draw comparisons between Lemonadeand A Seat at the Table. This body of work should be viewed through the lens of Solange's life experience and her evolution. This is her path, and we're so lucky to be invited to follow it. I feel so enlightened and uplifted by the music on this record. Solange has said that she is sort of having her "punk" moment right now, and I want to add that I am really enjoying this new era of black artists transcending to full-on rock stars.
Taylor: This is 100 percent the album I didn't know I needed. Black pride has been forced to the forefront over the past couple of years, and I couldn't be more here for the movement. I typically hate this term, but there's no doubt that A Seat At The Table is unapologetically black. It shows the journey that black people have and continue to go through. You can tell it’s not an album Solange put out for the numbers, for the streams, for the sales, it’s an album she put out for the message. You can copy and paste a lot of the lyrics from the songs and find multiple pages of search results on Google of black writers preaching the same dialogue. She talks about feelings we've all had, experiences we've all been through, and puts them to music.
This final interlude might be the most powerful, though: Despite the trials, we always come out on top. We are the chosen ones. We are the ones we've been waiting for.
Tina: I am so proud of Solange. So proud of my ancestors. So grateful that I live in a time when an album like this can be made, ingested, and celebrated. There are so many anthems of the spirit here. So many calls to shine. Art is the most beautiful when it reflects the truth of the time. This album is a work of art. The first time I finished this album, all I could think was "thank you." Thank you to every person that produced, played, sang, and slayed on this album. Thank you, Solange, for channeling so much and reflecting back to us the beauty you see in blackness and the pride that you allow us all to feel as you express your own.