Full Moon Phases of Solange
In a time of uncertainty for the underrepresented, Solange is where style, grace and strength convene. Her career began with singing back up for her sister Beyonce, whom we all wish was our sister. Living in the shade of anyone’s older sister can be difficult, especially when both are musically talented. However, A Seat at the Table, is proof of a fully matured and confident songwriter.
To fully understand the manifestation of this lyrically poweful artist, it takes reviewing all four albums in her career. Solange went from demanding to be independent of her sisters fame, to heartbreak and now being considered an activist for racial equality. Her flawless style and ubiquitous influence is felt by all women of color or any other race struggling with discriminative social constructs.
Many artists are taking on the responsibility to speak on social issues through the platform of their art. Music is meant to reflect the pain or joys pursuant to the time it is being written but it can also be a footnote in history. Solange is an example of an artist using both in order to cultivate music that is healing and not afraid to make statements.
Here’s a look at the career defining albums that could be paralleled to the four phases of the moon goddess herself.
Solo Star (2002)
This album debuted during the 2000’s R&B pop wave that everyone had been riding on while rocking camouflage wide leg pants and tube tops. A bit lackluster, Solange was criticized for being viewed as using her sisters fame to piggy back into the music industry. Although it’s reminiscent of the Now Thats What I call Music phase, it’d serve as an introduction for a pivotal artist that we have today. I think every artist deserves some leeway when looking at the pressures of creating their first album and especially when basic dance pop was a thing.
Sol-Angel & Hadley St. Dreams (2008)
This album is Motown funk and Solange is strongly stating a refusal to live behind the shadow of her sister’s stardom. The song “God Given Name” is filled with cheesyly low whispered singing and a borrowed familiar beat in the back. It’s almost like the embarassing prom picture your mom forced you to take but nonetheless it’s part of the process of creating the practice for future greatness. In terms of lyrical content, it’s a protest against the industries coercive way of blurring her identity solely to Beyonce’s younger sister who also happens to sing. In an unapologetic fashion with Kanye’s “Everything I’am” beat, she’s assertively cutting the bullshit of being coupled with her sister.
In this album, Solange offers dance music pop with a bummed wash-back vibe. Many of the songs play around the theme of pre or post-break up situations. The lyrics are straightforward and Solange showcases her fluency in creating music ranging from hips swaying slowly to sad girl heartbreak manifestation of Madonna pop. Collaborating with Blood Orange’s Devonte Hynes, this starlet was given a newly found depth and change in dimension from the direction her previous work was headed. A perfect example, “Losing You” is an afro-synth pop song introducing a Solange with the angelic voice propped by funky guitar streams, synthy jams and upbeat drums.
A Seat at the Table 2016
Considered one of the most ground breaking albums of 2016, Solange has cultivated the voice many young girls of color have been awaiting. Creating an elegant, political, emotionally charged voice that is solely hers. In “Weary”, velvet singing is led through a uniform heavy drum beat that’s contrasted by thunderous fluttering piano strikes. Weary is a call to social heirachy based on categories of race, gender and class structures. This is a major step-up from songs of heartbreak and the synth pop we were seeing before. Every song is carefuly constructed to tell the story of being black, being a female, and being unseen.
The album includes intimate interviews with her father, appearances of names such as Lil Wayne and Sampha and all in all an ode to black women. The piano in many of the songs is almost as sweet as the sound of her voice and combined with lyrics of acceptance and self-worth in the torment of living under the constraints of racial discrimination. In a time of fear and consitent political trolling she offers solace through an organic and spiritual place we’d happily seek shelter in.
Given all the shit going on, Solange is one of the few artist taking strides of strong gentle opposition to be reckoned with. In her current tour she cultivates a space stripping down to the most vulnerable, inexplicably breathtaking performances. There’s no reason why Solange will ever again be referred to as Queen B’s sister but a Queen in her own right.