Often, I have considered what exactly would an artist want us, as fans to get from their work. It’s hard to specify just one idea or message that all creatives would hope comes across in their projects but if I had to focus on anything that draws me in, it would be the inspiration of movement. Now, when I say “movement”, I’m not only speaking of physical expression such as dancing but the idea of being progressed or transformed by the art itself. I am very aware that this doesn’t always happen with just any artistic project and that other fans may not feel the same way I do. What I do know is, over the past months I have experienced a transformation that was prompted and profoundly enhanced by several Black artists. Solange is, without a doubt, one of those artists and the first of many I’d like to highlight here on The Black Sunflower.
If you’ve had a chance to read the first article, you’re prepared (and excited, I know) to witness me show my deep appreciation for Solange’s latest album, “When I Get Home”. There are a lot of ways to break down this project, trying to dissect all the intricacies that it offers. I’d like to walk you through a very momentous time for me that became not only bigger than life but has birthed something brand new with the closeness that I felt listening to this album; my 30th birthday weekend. This event is also impacted by the other artists in this first series as you will later see. This is a story of excitement, endearment, entertainment, growth and much more but my thoughts have not gathered the words for quite yet. Am I the only fan who has written or will write about their thoughts on Solange’s album? Of course, not. I am just so overjoyed to have the opportunity to express my gratitude in my way and share this experience as best as I can in this 2-part article review.
Thursday February 28th-
Two of my best friends had been planning a trip to Texas to visit me for my 30th birthday for some time prior, Cierra traveling from Illinois and Da’Chele coming from California. Due to another best friend, Sonia, preparing for her upcoming wedding in June at the time, she decided that she would not be able to join us for the birthday weekend. I don’t tell you this to say that I was upset or disappointed that she wasn’t going to be able to make it. The fact that she couldn’t make it was understood and I knew I’d be seeing her a few months later for her wedding. I had put a lot of emphases on my birthday over the years that caused me far more disappointments than this could have. A few weeks prior to that weekend, we’d go back and forth in our group chat, discussing our excitement to see one another. Although, I had planned a few things for us to do, it was all the unexpected that made my birthday the unbelievable event that it was. The first unexpected piece of news came my way a week before my birthday. Sonia’s Fiancé surprised us both by buying her flight tickets to join us the following weekend. Not only is it a surprise that she’s coming but she is also now scheduled to be the first to arrive.
Her flight was delayed but she arrives safely in San Antonio. After much-needed hugs and cheek kisses from my friend, we jumped in the car with all the eagerness to take on the upcoming weekend. Before I could even get out the cliché question, “How was your flight?”, I was quickly interrupted by Sonia. “GIRL. Solange is dropping a new album at midnight!” Of course, I told her to shut her mouth and tell me all about it. WE. WERE. READY. We chatted about our anticipation and how we planned to listen to the album following the end of my shift at work. I was scheduled to work until 10:30pm, leaving enough time to get home and wash off the day before letting new music calm my spirit as it always does. We spent some time relaxing with a glass of wine in our hands as we tended to some plants in my living room.
Midnight comes. All set for the semi-big/small event, we check our phones to confirm that the album was available. Sonia decided that she would play it from hers while I sifted through my closet for possible dresses to wear for the weekend. The first listen took me by surprise. Don’t get me wrong, it was not the quality of work that was surprising but the feelings that rushed over me as it hit my ear. The tracks that caught my attention instantly were, Things I Imagined, Down With the Clique, Almeda and My Skin, My Logo. Here are my initial impressions of each song. You’ll want to read the impression first before listening to the link, starting with the one below. (But, do you what you want of course).
Solange-Things I Imagined
I am humbled from the very first listen of this song, as it immediately made my mind wander to so many places yet commanded my presence in that moment, with the same tone. I felt the repetition of the words dancing all around, covering me with its anointment. Although you hear the word “Imagined” countless times throughout the track, there’s a part where you can hear (and imagine) the curl of her mouth as she says it. The words have a slow dripping effect, gradually filling you up, bringing you closer to the surface of yourself. Solange sings sweetly, “I saw things, I imagined” and without proof or reason, I believed her-believed in her. That belief starting to spill over, somehow, onto my floors, over my walls, bleeding into me. It begged the question, “what things will I see?”. The answer began to unfold itself as the days progressed, and with me trusting its process.
Solange-Down With the Clique
I know it has been quite a few years since any of us have seen a certain cartoon of the 90s that featured a tall, slender, neon pink colored cat. Yes, The Pink Panther was a favorite for me as well. I may not remember much about any of the story lines but that theme song…undeniable when you hear it. It is the same when you hear this track from Solange. I can say that in this album, for me, she really allowed all the instruments to breath and speak for themselves. The heaviness of the piano contrasted with her vibrating falsetto voice, gives way to so much depth and expression. I felt the cool darkness of a jazz club in my skin, the thick smoky air, swirling the room as the symbols became signs. Signs of this feeling of creativity needing to be released-screaming that its time had arrived.
At first listen, I was overwhelmed with wanting to feel everything all at once. My ears waiting and watching for the heavy intention of the piano as it floats through the song with a slow ease. There was such beautiful swiftness in the other instruments as they lifted Solange’s vocals and placing them on their own pedestal. She makes you feel the colors of who we are in the steady repetition, hyping each part of my being as she lists what she says are, “Black owned things”. It was poetic. Reminding and affirming in me, my beauty, my charisma, my intellect. I was meeting myself for what seemed to be the very first time. Excited to learn someone new as I always am; I wanted to know more, and I was finally ready to see it.
Solange-My Skin My Logo
Gucci on this track was enough to convince me that this song was going to hold some serious weight. Hearing the bassline immediately urges the bounce in your knees, a slight dip and sway in your seat, as you follow Solange’s voice. That voice began to crawl up my spine, shoulders shudder as I let her paint an image of Gucci across my mind. It’s what I love most about this track and what always stands out to me about the friendships that I share. Nobody hypes you up like your circle of friends (or one would hope). I can tell you all for sure, that one thing that comes naturally to the people who are closest to me; we don’t mind speaking highly of one another. There’s encouragement, guidance, laughter and a perfect sternness with every interaction. We teach each other to love the individual pieces of ourselves so during those moments when the full picture isn’t visible, there is still light and value exuding. I found there was something delightful to share with the world in that attitude, and that it was now also very necessary that I do so.
At this moment, a quiet stirring began to arise within me with the release of this album. When I think back to what I thought the phrase, “dirty thirty” meant, it never occurred me to that it would become a type of gardening term. In my case, I was dirty because I was subconsciously planting a seed of my own. Letting my imagination show itself to me in many forms. I was somehow, a seed of myself being replanted in the soil once more. A new chance to blossom, fully and certainly with intention…
Written by Michelle Hill
Join us next week for part 2