Exclaim!'s Top 15 Soul and R&B Albums Best of 2016



1. Solange
A Seat at the Table
(Sony)
 
Whether you were invited to sit at the table or not, it should be fairly recognizable to anyone: A Seat at the Table is a revolutionary body of work.
 
Rooted in black feminism, the surprise-drop album finds Solange unapologetically addressing issues facing women of colour in everyday life while opening a dialogue to discuss the realities of living in a black body in 2016. That Solange confronts micro-aggressions ("Don't Touch My Hair"), cultural appropriation ("F.U.B.U."), racism and even death also makes A Seat at the Table something of an emotional rollercoaster, despite being delivered in happy shades of neo-soul, funk and classic R&B.
 
As Solange highlights the dangers inherent to the black experience, she opens a dialogue to speak on mental wellness and the effects of depression and anxiety. Songs like "Cranes in the Sky" (which was written in 2008 but remains utterly relevant in 2016) are crucial, journal-like entries to self-healing, while "Mad" talks anti-resistance movements and self-identity. 
 
To suggest A Seat at the Table is simply a musical recording would be unjust — rather, it's an experience strengthened by compassion, understanding and empathy, as Solange masterfully turns music and emotion into powerful anthems poised to lead us through all of life's uncertainties, no matter how unassailable they seem.
Erin Lowers