A few years ago, Solange caught some flak for questioning the credibility of music journalists whom she speculated lacked the R&B background to criticize her single, “Losing You.” “Like you really should know about deep Brandy album cuts before you are giving a ‘grade’ or a ‘score’ to any R&B artist,” she tweeted. The subtweet wasn’t interpreted as a friendly suggestion.
Later, after Solange chose not to appear on a podcast with New York Times writer Jon Caramanica, he made an offensive comment about the incident on air. “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,” he said about her white fans.
This week Solange revealed how Caramanica’s statement inspired the song “Don’t You Wait,” on her widely praised new album Seat at the Table. She references the incident in the lyrics: “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?”
In conversation with Helga Davis on her podcast Q2, Solange spoke about how Caramanica’s words really stuck with her.
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 — 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?’
Solange won’t need any white male critics to give her rave reviews anytime soon, what with a No. 1 album on the charts and all.