Solange On The Haunting Conversation That Inspired 'A Seat At The Table'

The artist said a white male journalist urged her "not to bite the hand that feeds me."
Queen Solange.
Queen Solange.
Donna Ward via Getty Images

Solange’s “A Seat At The Table” became the therapeutic and empowering album that we needed this year. Solange recorded, arguably, the blackest album of the year and it was all because of a racially charged conversation two white men had about her on a podcast.

In an interview with Helga Davis, host of Q2 Music’s “Helga” podcast, the artist said that, in 2013, she received flack on Twitter for saying white journalists who write about R&B music should know who Brandy was.

Shortly after, The New York Times invited Solange to talk about cultural tourism in music on one of their podcasts, but she declined to join. “I didn’t feel the need to have a debate about something that I was culturally a part of, and I didn’t feel the need to defend that,” the singer told Davis.

Still, the host of the Time’s podcast, Jon Caramanica, who is white, talked about what Solange said on Twitter. While talking to Davis, Solange recalled that the writer (also a white man) who appeared on the episode said, “I went to Solange’s concert and I noted who her audience was, and if I were her, I’d be careful of making these statements because I’d be careful not to bite the hand that feeds me.”

Caramanica also referenced how much of Solange’s white fanbase had grown following the release of “True” in 2012.

Solange told Davis that she was being challenged on ownership of her art because the host and writer were essentially telling her that “this audience had ownership over [her].”

Solange explained that the conversation between those two white men ignited her passion for her latest album:

“That was kind of the turning point in the transition for me writing the album that is now ‘A Seat at the Table.’ I began to think a lot about that conversation and replaying it, and it haunted me. And it haunted my mother to hear someone telling her daughter ‘don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ And also the racial subtleties—[that] are not so subtle—of what that encompasses when you say that to a black woman. Then you connect it by saying ‘Do you know who’s buying your records?’ So I was essentially being told to shut up.”

Solange makes a direct reference to the conversation on her song “Don’t You Wait,” in which she sings, “Now, I don’t want to bite the hand that’ll show me the other side, no/But I didn’t want to build the land that has fed you your whole life, no/Don’t you find it funny?”

“A Seat At The Table” debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in September. Since, it has earned much critical acclaim, snatching slots on the best album of the year lists and a Grammy nomination for the single “Cranes In The Sky.”

Please excuse us as we blast “FUBU” on repeat while Solange gets the last laugh.

Listen to Davis’ full interview with Solange below.

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