5 Things You Need To Know About Solange’s New Album When I Get Home
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5 Things You Need To Know About Solange’s New Album When I Get Home

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Claudia Maddaluno

Last Friday, three years after her wonderful A Seat At The Table, Solange Knowles released the highly anticipated new album When I Get Home.
The record comes as a surprise and features prominent names, from Tyler, The Creator to Earl Sweatshirt to Panda Bear and Sampha.
In short, a record that sounds good, or rather, a record that must sound good.

In these three years, the expectations about A Seat At The Table follow-up have become very high and in the meantime Solange has always kept the spotlight on her artistic talent, directing SZA’s music video for The Weekend, announcing her first art exhibition of 2018 Metatronia in Los Angeles, teaming up with IKEA for a new collection called Objects, Space, Architecture and posing for Calvin Klein’s campaign #MyCalvins with Kelela and Dev Hynes.

She revealed the first details about her new project in an interview for Billboard, which came out on March 1, 2018 (exactly one year before the official release of When I Get Home). And, once the recording sessions were over, she created a website via the social media platform and black online community Black Planet where she debuted media, images, GIFs, a newsletter form and cryptic quotes about the new project.
She also teased via Instagram with a post that shouted out Houston rapper Mike Jones with his cell phone number in the caption, inviting her followers to call to listen to some snippets from her new album.

 

 

 
 
 
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So, in the week of its release, Solange left a lot of clues about When I Get Home on social media until the record hit the web at midnight on Friday, at the exact intersection of Black History Month and Women’s History Month.

This and others that we will list below are the symbols that will help us to better understand the Solange’s concept album that connects her origins with blackness and feminine pride exploring the tradition, the repetition, the memory but also what will be the future of post-Solange pop culture.

The inspirations

In a 2018’s interview for New York Times’ T Magazine, Solange discussed the sound of When I Get Home:
There is a lot of jazz at the core” – she said – “But with electronic and hip-hop drum and bass because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle“.
And she also added: “The record will be warm, fluid, and more sensual than the last one

The 19-tracks album is indebted to jazz: we can find the reminiscent of Stevie Wonder’s Journey through the Secret Life of Plants, along with the avant-jazz of Alice Coltrane and the spiritual sound of the Sun Ra Arkestra.
But Solange layers these classic inspirations and modern ones, making brief songs like Tierra Whack did in Whack World in a shimmering fusion of traditional jazz and Noname-inspired ethereal jazz.

Likewise, the album credits are packed with star-studded names, mostly come from the hip-hop world in order to give a fresh look to the classic jazz influences (in My Skin My Logo feat. Gucci Mane, Solange also tried to rap).
The production by the likes Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler, the Creator from the hip-hop collective Odd Future juxtaposes the smooth and the rough, the silky R&B with the scratchy rap. So the ethereal soul gets dirty with the urban beats. That explains what Solange meant with “I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle“.
Craig Jenkins explained it better on Vulture: “When I Get Home is hip-hop that doesn’t tell you what to think. It’s soul music that doesn’t tell you what to feel. It’s the answer to the old Funkadelic question: “Who says a jazz band can’t play dance music?

The roots

When I Get Home pays homage to Solange’s Texas roots. From tracklist to lyrics to samples everything is about her deep love for Third Ward, Houston (the 17-second S McGregor samples the voices of Houston natives Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen from the film Superstars & Their Moms). She began writing new music precisely during her last journey to Third Ward, as the singer explained on Sunday evening during an intimate sit-down in Houston where she played her 33-minutes film.

There were a lot of things that were happening with my body and my spirit,” – she said – “When you go through something like that, you yearn for things that remain same. And I know, any time in my life, I can come back home to Houston, Texas—to Third Ward. So I quietly rented a home in Third Ward off Wichita and started to write new music, but more than anything reflect on my journey. There’s nothing like coming home, getting off the plane, getting in the car, listening to 97.9 The Box. Nothing like it.”

That explains why the album and its accompanying short film features pieces of Texas (scenes from a rodeo, a man riding on horseback and afrofuturist cowboy themes in Knowles’ hometown of Houston).

The repetitions

Reading the lyrics of When I Get Home we realize that it’s full of verses that repeat.
In the opening track, for example, she sings from beginning to end “I saw things I imagined / Things I imagined” but also in Dreams she repeats the verse “Dreams, they come a long way, not today” and in the Playboi Carti – assisted Almeda, which is a celebration of blackness and Houston culture, Solange emphasises brown / black adjectives to underline the pride of being black.

Repeating that concepts is a way to fix them in her mind, like a mantra, and internalize them so that they will never leave us.

I think repetition is a very strong way to reinforce those mantras that we’re given and we say,” said Solange. “But, once we really repeat them and say them out loud and call them in our lives… I said, ‘I saw things I imagined.’ And the first four times I didn’t believe it. But by the eighth time, I felt it. It came into my body. The things I had to do to reinforce these things. It’s one thing to think through your spirit. It’s another to live it through your body

A Seat At The Table vs When I Get Home 

Approaching to When I Get Home with the expectation of a sequel to A Seat At The Table is totally wrong.

Solange’s new album is not as powerful as A Seat At The Table (there’s not a hit like Cranes In The Sky, and there are not the brilliant solutions we found in ASATT, despite the constellation of collaborators).
Of course there are some elements in the new album that resemble the previous, like the interludes, the link between her life and the black life and the apology for woman body.

Solange explains the main difference between the two albums herself: “With A Seat At The Table, I had so much to say. With this album, I had so much to feel. Words would have been reductive to what I needed to feel, so we focused on the sonics. My heart and soul is production.”.

Going home means to her going through a myriad of feelings, scents, memories, and traditions that she can’t explain with simple words.

Becoming Solange

“Becoming Solange” is the title of the last i-D magazine cover stars accompanied by an interesting interview with Stevona Elem-Rogers.
That title is extremely significant because When I Get Home is an explorative album where Solange becomes herself in her multiple layers.
While A Seat At The Table is an album about the acceptance of trauma and self-healing, When I Get Home is an introspective journey exploring a world without pain, and recovering happiness and freedom, along with every part of herself.

In Can I Hold The Mic she sings: “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.”

Solange’s essence is constantly evolving and that’s why you can say “becoming Solange” instead of “being Solange”.

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Written by Claudia Maddaluno
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