An elegant, glimmering halo sits atop Solange’s head during her performance of “Cranes In The Sky” on Saturday Night Live. Crafted by hair artist Shani Crowe, the braided hairpiece is perhaps a nod to the crown Solange mentions during the first verse from the A Seat At The Table song “Don’t Touch My Hair.”
“Don't touch my hair / When it's the feelings I wear / Don't touch my soul / When it's the rhythm I know / Don't touch my crown,” she sings.
Both songs have become meaningful for black women. As the lead single from ASATT, “Cranes In The Sky,” in particular, has struck a deeper chord. In its essence, the track addresses the singer’s feeling of rejection as a black woman in America. It’s Solange’s confessional: An acknowledgment of the ways she has tried to compensate for the exclusion she’s felt.
While grief resonates within the first verse from “Cranes In The Sky,”—“I tried to drink it away / I tried to put one in the air / I tried to dance it away / I tried to change it with my hair”—though delicate, there is still joy found in the murmuring, funky bassline, and hope found in the wavering strings. That joy comes full circle during her SNL performance, where Solange can be found smiling, radiating ethereality.
Since the album debuted in September, a handful of artists have felt so inspired by “Cranes In The Sky” and ASATT that they’ve made their own versions.
Below, we rank those remixes, created by four musicians who represent very different lanes in hip-hop.
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Kaytranada released the first remix of “Cranes In The Sky,” his version showcasing an immediate shift in tempo. Solange’s voice appears choppy, as Kaytranada infuses the beat with colorful and psychedelic percussive instruments. He easily intuits and amplifies the joy found in the original version, and creates an inventive and upbeat remix.
Common is probably the most obvious candidate for a remix of “Cranes In The Sky.” On his version, he adds an impassioned verse over the song’s opening strings, referencing Ms. Lauryn Hill, Issa Rae, and “Don’t Touch My Hair.” He digs deeper into the crane imagery—which corresponds with Solange’s feelings of rejection—rapping, “Men and women at work, cranes in the sky / We gon' keep building for our children's children,” and later adding, “Cranes in the sky, I know how the metal sound.” He relates Solange’s narrative to his own.
Styles P’s rough delivery is an excellent match for the tenderness of “Cranes In The Sky.” Earning the nickname The Ghost, he appropriately titles his remix “Ghost In The Sky,” and delivers a pretty grim verse. “If that hole looking black to you / My soul willing to chat with you / I’m familiar with the pain / I know the fast life, I’m familiar with the lane,” he raps, creating a connection between his feelings of rejection, as a black man, and Solange’s, as a black woman.
It wouldn’t be a Rick Ross track without some braggadocio. “Cribs so big, cranes in the sky / Standing on the stage, chains side-to-side” he raps, as he counts his accolades, and gleans over his accomplishments, possessions and success. Still, though, he instills the remix with a positive spirit, and that’s something the listener can sense. Rozay is in a good place.
Art Credit: Will Prince