Solange Knowles just released A Seat at the Table, her first full-length album in eight years—a virtual lifetime by music industry standards—yet, she’s managed to remain firmly on everyone’s radar as a hyper-relevant, influential force in culture, music, art and fashion. In the time since she teased us with her 2012 EP True and 2008 album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, Solange has been working non-stop. When she’s not writing and producing music for people like Beyoncé and Cassie, she’s acting as creative director for brands like Puma, creating video content for art powerhouses like London’s Tate Modern, curating her online shop Saint Heron—whose mission is to “celebrate diversity, culture, and the innovation of artist of color”—and writing essays about own experience with racism.
At the core of all her work is an artful deliberateness, one that takes time and heightened social awareness to fully explore and celebrate selfhood and self-worth—and A Seat at the Table, described by Solange herself as “a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing,” is the best example of this yet.
Here are eight reasons why A Seat at the Table was well worth the eight-year wait:
1. It’s pitch-perfect timing
Solange’s third album is a sprawling, empowering celebration of black identity—and given all the tensions swirling in our current political climate her message couldn’t be timelier or more important to hear.
2. It’s full of incredible collaborations
Solange is joined by an impressive and diverse array of guests on the 21-track masterpiece including Lil Wayne, The-Dream, Q-Tip, Kelala and frequent collaborator Dev Hynes.
4. …that she mailed in hard copy to 86 fans last week
The meaning of 86 is unclear (although we’re guessing it’s in honour of her 1986 year of birth), but Solange gifted the only existing hard copies book (as far as we know) to the first 86 people to offer up their postal addresses a week ahead of her album drop.
5. It’s a family affair
Tina Knowles delivers a spoken interlude about race called “Tina Taught Me” and longtime family friend and Destiny’s Child member Kelly Rowland sings on the interlude “I Got So Much Magic, You Can Have It.”
6. It has one amazing track after another
While some of us in the FLARE office are partial to the more uptempo “Don’t You Wait” and “Junie,” synthy “Don’t Wish Me Well” or string-filled “Cranes in the Sky,” and others prefer the melodic Destiny’s Child-style nostalgia of “Where Do We Go” (fun fact: Solange wrote and occasionally sang with DC in the early years), there’s literally not a bad track on the album. Plus there’s no shortage of more mellow tunes and balladic throwbacks to enjoy.
7. It helped to have True (2012)—and its many, many remixes—to tide us over
Case in point, Cyril Hahn’s remix of the absolute banger “Losing You” (peep the perfect video for the original below).
8. It’s hard to be mad about the wait when you see how stoked Solange is to share it with us
Solange shared the album cover on her Instagram with this message: “I am overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement to share this body of work I have written, with you” and has been answering fan’s tweets since the album dropped, proving the pride she takes in her art and how fiercely she appreciates her fans.