“Now, I don’t want to bite the hand that’ll show me the other side,” Solange sings in the second verse of A Seat at the Table‘s “Don’t You Wait.” “But I didn’t want to build the land that has fed you your whole life, no. Don’t you find it funny?”
The lyrics call back to a New York Times podcast during which music writer Jon Caramanica criticizes the singer. The discussion came in the wake of Solo expressing her frustrations with music bloggers, but even more in particular: the grievances she felt toward the less-than-glowing reviews of Brandy‘s then-released Two Eleven, which were written by writers she felt didn’t necessarily understand the culture of R&B.
During the podcast, Caramanica stated:
“The only reason that Solange’s success this past year has even been a thing is only because of these same people that she’s lambasting. Like there would be no Solange record if the dude from Grizzly Bear didn’t put it out. There would be no Solange interests if all of a sudden people that have not historically been interested in R&B hadn’t decided to pay attention to Miguel and The Weeknd and Drake. So you know, first of all, let’s talk about biting the hand that feeds you. If I was Solange, I would be a little bit worried about that.”
Solange spoke with Helga Davis for Monday’s episode of Q2 Music and shared how that conversation inspired her critically acclaimed album:
“That was kind of the turning point in the transition for me writing the album that is now ‘A Seat at the Table,’” Solo said. “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 — 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?’”
She also touched upon owning her Blackness while expressing herself through art:
“Working out how to develop those tools through my art and through the conversation of my music to where now I actually feel much better, much more equipped to have those conversations. I actually had to go through the rage and the frustration and the mourning and the protest and the meditation through the album to get to the other side, to be able to have those conversations, no matter where I’m being targeted. I can stand firm in that and strong and with my shoulders and my head high.”
Listen to the interview below.