Solange (feat. Sampha) – “Don’t Touch My Hair”

Come on now, you know black hair is sacred.

While the world is currently imploding over her sister’s recent baby news, I’ve just been here putting more plays on A Seat at the Table, the third album by Solange Knowles, and a record which has been growing on me for the past while. While initially somewhat eclipsed by the mega-stardom of Beyoncé, Solange has fully moved out of her older sister’s shadow and has forged her own path musically, and she shines brightly on A Seat at the Table. The album is subtle but full of resolve, as Solange takes on ideas such as identity, success, self-worth, and love over a smooth melange of R&B, funk, and soul. There’s a reassuring feel to this record which draws me in. It’s funky, it’s vulnerable, it’s powerful, and she hits a lot of heights and delivers moments which bring reflection. To be completely honest with y’all, I’m a bit more of a fan of Solange than Beyoncé with this work. Her attitude and vibe throughout this album definitely commands my attention and I hope she doesn’t keep us waiting too long for whatever she tackles next.

Now…”Don’t Touch My Hair.” Damn! If you’re a person of color, you’ve probably had that moment, where a white person tries to touch your hair. Shit, I’m a dude and I’ve gotten it a few times in my life. Here Solange rebukes it, mentioning how that seemingly-small action speaks volumes, a condescending act which sidesteps the person and culture and reduces them to something to be gawked at, disrespected, and controlled. She touches on how much power, history, and culture there is in black hair, and the deep racial history around it. “This hair is my shit,” she says, and you don’t even begin to know the half. It’s more than just the hair, as she channels and celebrates the strength and resiliency of black women. The tune is appropriately composed in mood but strikingly defiant, particularly in those seizing horns on the hook, and singer Sampha complements everything nicely with his vocals. It’s a highlight from a record full of top listens.

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