The Knowles sisters are drastically different.
From their choices of hairstyles, clothing and overall aesthetics, to their attitudes and musical styles, they both let their individuals personalities shine through in what they choose to give to us mere mortals. But as Solange pointed out to Fader, they do “have the same mother and the same father… and grew up in the same household, and so [they] had heard the same conversations.”
These influences make it no coincidence that Lemonade and A Seat at the Table are, at times, eerily similar.
Here are a few examples, track by track.
“Don’t You Wait” & “Love Drought”
Okay, this one requires some deep lyrical analysis and a quick background on the songwriters. “Don’t You Wait” was written solely by Solo (as was the entire album) in response to a comment made by a journalist whose analysis of R&B music she’d criticized on Twitter. Long story short, she aired her concerns on Twitter, the journalist retorted by warning that she shouldn’t “bite the hand that feeds her,” and of course, Solange fired right back. And here we are, seven months later, with a beautifully written track about staying true to yourself in the face of anyone who may try to hold you back.
“Love Drought” was originally assumed to be about Beyonce and Jay Z’s relationship, but songwriter Ingrid Burley clarified in an interview with Genius that the song was, in fact, about her frustrations with her record label. Both songs call in question a person’s own self-worth, and the process of moving past any toxic situations.
“Don’t Touch My Hair” & “Formation”
My two favorite self-love anthems. “Don’t Touch My Hair” is about, well, hair, but it goes far deeper than that. Solange is an icon for natural hair and refusing to conform to the beauty standards of Hollywood. Choice of hairstyle (particularly within the Black community) is an extension of the individual. So an Afro, braids, weave, etc., they are all of their own weight in terms of individual expression. This song reinforces having pride in yourself, your hair, your ideas and everything that makes you you.
“Formation” is a feminist anthem, along with a call to be proud of your own features. The line “I like my baby heir with baby hair and afros” is one of the most telling: she prefers her young daughter’s hair in its natural state. It’s about pride and self-confidence. It’s about strength.
“Mad,” “F.U.B.U.” & “Freedom”
“Mad” and “F.U.B.U.” evoke different emotions, but they, along with “Freedom,” have the same message: it’s okay to be upset at the world we’re living in. Solange takes the less subtle approach with lines like “But I’m not really allowed to be mad” and “… You’re criminal, just who you are.” Black people are dying at an alarming rate, yet it isn’t socially acceptable to be openly angry about it. She’s expressing the sentiment that so many people feel currently and are afraid to display publicly.
In “Freedom,” Beyonce expresses regret at not using her platform to its fullest extent in the past. She practically screams “Lord forgive me, I’ve been running” along with the melody of this extremely powerful song. And who can forget the jaw-dropping performance she and Kendrick Lamar gave at this year’s BET Awards?
All in all, these sisters made beautiful contributions to music, culture and history with their respective albums. 2016 has been a rough year in America and it makes me so proud that my two favorite artists aren’t afraid to speak up for those of us who aren’t always able to. Lemonade and A Seat at the Table are those albums that you just know will be talked about forever.