Almost three years following her last release, A Seat at the Table, Solange returns with When I Get Home - a free-flowing work that blends neo-soul, R&B, blues, and funk elements with contemporary hip-hop influences.
Leading up to last night's midnight release of her project, Solange began teasing hints and snippets suggesting a release was around the corner. She shared the following clip late Wednesday night:
On Tuesday, she Tweeted a link to a customized Black Planet profile - a social networking site that's been around since 1999. The site featured a web-like diagram of cryptic media including photos, text, and gifs. This, of course, was enough to get the web buzzing. Fans shared their predictions for the project on social media sites:
The project itself arrives at a length of 19 tracks, and features a sphere of collaborators ranging from Pharrell Williams and Dev Hynes, to Gucci Mane and Playboi Carti. The album's full credits detail all its contributors and reveal Solange to be the executive producer and writer of all lyrics and melodies on the project.
That's fairly uncommon in today's pop music landscape, especially at the caliber of a Knowles family member. But Solange has evidently carved her own path, arriving at a space more experimental and eccentric than that of her sister's.
On the record's opening track, "Things I Imagined," jazzy chords and retro synthesizers glide over Solange's vocals. She repeats the songs title - shifting in cadence and melody throughout.
The hazy intro appropriately sets the tone for the project, where the beginning and end of each song is not clearly marked. With many of the songs sitting near the 1-minute mark and a handful of interludes and intermissions, most of the album feels intertwined and effusive. The songs play more like live improvisations or jam sessions than cautiously produced records.
This authenticity is present not only sonically, but thematically throughout the project, as Solange integrates references to her hometown of Houston, Texas. Songs like "Beltway" - which refers to one of the city's main highways - and "Way to the Show" include tropes of Houston culture. Listen to her reference the city's car culture in the track below:
Solange - Way to the Show
On the "Can I Hold the Mic" interlude, Solange captures the essence of her music and what it means to be a boundless creative by explaining:
"I can't be a singular expression of myself, there's too many parts, too many spaces, too many manifestations, too many lines, too many curves, too many troubles, too many journeys, too many mountains, too many rivers, so many..."
On another one of the album's interludes, she urges to "do nothing without intention." Solange makes sure to drop such gems of wisdom throughout the project, making it feel more like a living, experiential art-piece than a conventional album.
Stay tuned for updates on Solange's touring activity.