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Columbia Records

A Seat At The Table: Solange’s New Album Is A Celebration Of Black Beauty

"Black people reflect so much light,” says Solo. 

Nina Simone once stated that the duty of an artist is to “reflect the times,” and more than 35 years later, Solange is carrying the torch.

In many ways the spirit and inspiration of Simone lives inside Solange. Her new album, A Seat at the Table, is a collision of artistry and activism, an expedition through the Black experience, and all that it entails.

“Although sonically, there are times when this album feels like a celebration I think that it’s really truly for all of us,” Solange explained during an intimate listening session at the Underground Museum in Los Angeles Thursday (Sept. 29). “I’ve learned so much from everyone in this room even if I never met you, because I feel like Black people just reflect so much light that I’m so thankful for.”

At the core,  A Seat at the Table is as a multi-layered masterpiece, a “tribute” to Solange’s parents, and a window into the “trauma” embedded deep in Black America. But the project is also a celebration of Blackness, and an example of the 30-year-old singer/songwriter’s artistic journey.

“I remember with my second album people’s overwhelming response was like ‘You’re kind of weird,’ they didn’t really know what was going on,” recalled the Houston native. “[They said] I wore crazy clothes or whatever, and I feel like continuously through the support of my family and my friends, I’ve stood strong in who I [am].”

“When you have that magic,” Solange added. “You just have to hold onto it, and not be afraid.”

The motivation to embrace that inner “magic,” can be heard in the stories shared by her parents on the album.

In “Tina Taught Me,” Lawson delivers powerful words about “accepting the beauty in being Black,” and Knowles recounts the “vacuum of segregation and integration, and racism,” on the interlude, “Dad Was Mad.”

“Seeing all those parents and KKK members having signs and throwing cans at us, spitting at us,” Knowles recalls of integrating into a White school as a child. “We lived in the threat of death every day.”

Knowles' candid interlude leads into the track “Mad,” featuring Lil Wayne.  “I ran into this girl she said why you always blaming?” Solange sings on the song’s chorus. “Why you can’t just face it? Why you always gotta be mad?….I got a lot to be mad about.”

Master P., whom Solange thanked for his “strong contribution,” narrates the album, which includes guests spots from Kelly Rowland, Sampha, The Dream, BJ The Chicago Kid, Q-Tip, and Washington D.C. artist, Kelela.

Just as the guest list adds another texture to the music, the track listing of titles like “Don’t Touch My Hair,” “Weary” “Rise,” and “F.U.B.U,” elevates the overall message, while Master P, has the last word on the empowering final interlude, “Closing: The Chosen Ones.”

As Lawson described at the listening event, Solange’s third studio album is “her Waiting to Exhale.” The ‘90s film, adapted from Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel, was a voice for a generation of Black women who are times broken, but ultimately triumphant in the face of adversity.

For a Black woman who is herself constantly evolving, A Seat at The Table is an invitation to dialogue, an emotional potluck of shared experiences, and lessons learned along the way.

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Eve Says Her Record Label Had Trepidation About 2001 Gwen Stefani Collaboration

In 2001, Philly rapper Eve finally earned her breakthrough hit on the pop charts with "Let Me Blow Ya Mind," a bouncy hip-hop collaboration with No Doubt's lead vocalist Gwen Stefani. However, E-V-E revealed on CBS' The Talk that her record label at the time had doubts regarding Stefani's feature.

On Monday (Dec. 17), Stefani appeared on the show. Sharon Osbourne asked co-host Eve what she remembers from their first musical encounter 17 years ago to which Eve said, "I just loved Gwen. I was a huge fan, and I was like this is gonna work. Although, the label didn't think it would work."

Stefani responded, "Really? I thought it was the opposite. I thought they said, 'You need to have her on the record.' " Eve continued stating that she had to "fight" for Stefani and was "happy it happened."

 

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In 2002, just a month after the Dr. Dre-produced song took home the Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration, Eve knew the duet was meant to be, telling VIBE, "Gwen and I had an instant connection both artistically and spiritually. We could have been sisters in another life."

"Let Me Blow Ya Mind" became one of many songs to enter the music industry stratosphere in the 2000s where black R&B/hip-hop stars worked with white pop/rock acts that would eventually expand each other's demographic.

Despite the song's success, it wouldn't be the last time the two artists worked together. Eve was featured on Stefani's top 10 hit "Rich Girl" in 2004 off her debut multi-platinum-selling solo album Love. Angel. Music. Baby., and served as her opening act on Stefani's This Is What the Truth Feels Like Tour 12 years later.

Revisit the iconic hit below.

READ MORE: Swizz Beatz Says Busta Rhymes' "Touch It" Was Initially Made For Eve

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XXXTentacion attends the 2017 BET Hip Hop Awards.
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XXXTentacion's Posthumous Album 'Skins' Tops The Billboard 200

XXXTentacion's posthumous album Skins has topped the Billboard 200 albums chart, which marks the second time this year the late-20-year-old has held the number one spot. XXXTentacion was killed in Florida in June.

"The set, which was released on Dec. 7 via Bad Vibes Forever/EMPIRE, is XXXTentacion’s second No. 1, and it earned 132,000 equivalent album units in the week ending Dec. 13, according to Nielsen Music," reports Billboard of the news. "Of that sum, 52,000 were in album sales."

Skins is the first posthumous number one album since Prince's The Very Best of Prince, which catapulted to the top of the charts after his death in April 2016. XXX's album ? went No. 1 back in March 2018, and his first studio album 17 debuted at No. 2 in 2017.

The album featured one guest collaboration by Kanye West, who provided a controversial bar on the track "One Minute." He spits “Now your name is tainted, by the claims they paintin'/The defendant is guilty, no one blames the plaintiff.” A representative for West states that he was not defending XXXTentacion "or anyone in particular" on the song. At the time of his death, the young man. was awaiting trial for several domestic violence allegations against his then-pregnant girlfriend.

READ MORE: Kanye West Appears To Defend XXXTentacion In 'Skins' Album Verse

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Maroon 5 Scrambling To Find Guest Performers For Super Bowl Halftime Show

Between the NFL’s stance on the National Anthem and the league’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick, performing at the Super Bowl halftime show clearly isn’t as alluring as it used to be.

Maroon 5 has reportedly been scrambling to finding someone to share the stage with them at the Super Bowl LIII halftime show in Atlanta next month, but it’s not for lack of trying. The band is having trouble pinning down special guests because, “No one wants to associate themselves with the NFL,” US Weekly reports.

Cardi B,  who collaborated with the Maroon 5 on the hit single “Girls Like You,”  mulled it over, but ultimately turned down the Super Bowl invitation.

“It’s a no right now,” a source told the outlet of Cardi’s decision.

Andre 3000 and Mary J. Blige were approached to perform as well, per a Variety report. Blige was unable to commit due to scheduling issues. Other alleged names being tossed around include Usher, Lauryn Hill, Nicki Minaj, and Madonna.

Since Atlanta is a virtual hotbed of Black artists who were seemingly overlooked to headline the show, focusing on local talent might be Maroon 5’s safest bet. According to Variety, Migos and Lil Yachty could be in the running to fill the empty spot.

The NFL has yet to officially announce Maroon 5 as the halftime act. Meanwhile, a Change.org petition calling for the band to drop out of the show has received nearly 75,000 signatures.

Super Bowl LIII goes down Feb. 3, 2019, at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

READ MORE: Amy Schumer Joins In Protest Spirit, Turns Down Super Bowl Ads

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