I’m currently three songs in and I am fighting myself from crying just so I can write this. Listen, from someone who before this moment has not musically been a Solange fan, I’m telling you to stop reading this right now and go listen to this album! I could dissect each track on the album, but it is written from such a pure place of vulnerability and purpose that demanding that you do anything other than listen to it for yourself would be a grave injustice.
The album is a tribute to the beauty of our culture. Sometimes monologues detract from the music of an album, but each one here was profound and perfectly placed. “Tina Taught Me” rang most true for me and what I always try to argue; I love being Black, always have, but that doesn’t mean I hate you or your culture. I felt the sting and years of anger in “Dad was Mad” but what was most emotionally tugging for me were the pieces by Percy Miller aka Master P. Perhaps this is due to my own lack of knowledge, but I had never known Master p’s story prior to this moment. Not only was it his truth, but it felt like mine and so many others too. The imagery of knowing ones individual and collective worth, and standing in your truth, is deeply threaded throughout. It was an affirmation from the ancestors spoken through him.
As a womyn, “Cranes in the Sky” hit home in a very special and tender way for me. I can’t say what Solange’s “it” is, but the song speaks to whatever it can be and how we try to avoid it, but none of it works, and the more you grow the more you have to face that and process through it all. As The Get Down stated “you have your mad face on to hide your sad face” and this is more than often true for all of as, as “Mad” examines.
Finally, Lil Wayne’s verses on “Mad” allowed me to now have some insight to why I felt such a pulling in my chest when Chance said “he’s just so strong” during his interview on Ellen. I see it when I look at him and feel it when I listen to his music; like so many of us, I wish his family would’ve loved him better.
We have to battle external forces trying to break us, but family, we’ve got to battle those within our own ranks who are attempting to break us too–intentionally, or though unintentional and selfish neglect.
This album is a masterpiece. It has so many quotable moments, but the best one that summarizes it all is in F.U.B.U. “this shit is for us.” Huge nod to the clothing line For Us By Us (F.U.B.U.) that so many of us rocked in the 90s and early 2000s. And it is so blatant that this album is for us; all of it!
-Ms. Malcolm Hughes
Ms. Malcolm Hughes is the editor-in-chief of For Your Black? Conscious. She is a Chicago, IL native–from the city, not the suburbs–strategizing in Washington, D.C. She strives every day to not disappoint or defer the dreams of her 13 year old self. Because at that age, more than any other, she just wanted to see her people win. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter @fybconscious.