On March 1, one of Houston’s hometown divas Solange Knowles dropped her latest musical project titled “When I Get Home.” Writing for Complex.com, the hip-hop culture journal, Kiana Fitzgerald says “Solange appears laser-focused on introducing the world to the feel of her home state and city.” Fitzgerald, from Seguin, Texas, says her family raised her on Houston culture. She admits she was a nervous wreck when she first played Solange’s new album.
“When she dropped her previous album ‘A Seat At The Table,’ I was just unprepared for the weight of the project she was giving us,” Fitzgerald says. “She was working through a lot of her own issues. She went to the place where her family is from, which is New Orleans, and she worked through a lot of the turmoil that her family has been through, from racism to issues between her parents.”
“When I Get Home” is not as heavy as Solange’s 2016 release, Fitzgerald says, because it was a different time.
“There was a lot of turmoil in the country,” she says. “There were black men being murdered, black women and children were being murdered. It all came up when she dropped this album. The intro song says ‘fall on your ways so you can crumble, fall on your ways so you can wake up and rise.’ So she was really looking at shutting down the ugly past and stepping into the beautiful future. And now she is in that beautiful future and she is having a good time.”
That good time manifests in tracks in this latest album. At the end of the song “Down With the Clique,” Solange and her producers slow down and augment the last 15 seconds so it sounds as if it were playing from a cassette tape.
“That correlates directly to DJ Screw who had screw tapes that were highly coveted across the state, across the country,” Fitzgelard says. “I felt like that was such a beautiful way for her to tip her hat to DJ Screw and to Houston without many people actually knowing what she was doing.”
There are subtle, H-Town insider references woven into “When I Get Home.” But however subtle, Solange and other Houston artists are actually at the center of the music world today.
“I think she is saying ‘It’s time for Houston to be back on top,'” Fitzgealrd says. “Travis Scott, last August, dropped ‘Astroworld.’ With this project it was more through samples and the actual feel, the production and the bounce. The things that make what ‘When I Get Home’ what it actually is. ‘Astroworld’ was big and bombastic and a show. Between these two albums both of these artists are saying ‘It’s our time. It’s Texas’ time.'”
A take from another reviewer, Panama Jackson at Very Smart Brothas – the pop culture branch of theroot.com – is that this album would be scrutinized more if it wasn’t Solange who released it. He writes:
I cannot tell you how many folks I’ve spoken to about this album, writers even, who were like, nope, not touching it. Nobody wants to be the one to say it isn’t good. Solange lives in this space where we love her so much that many of us don’t really want to say anything negative. And that’s fair. Kind of.
Fitzgerald says that the album’s significance doesn’t have to be either a great musical project or what Solange represents. It can be both.
“I think it is a representation of who she is,” Fitzgerald says. “She is this free-form artist that does whatever she wants and she exists in her own lane. So I think that’s fair to say that people think about her differently because she is an artists’ artist. But I personally think this is a beautiful album. I think it’s incredibly orchestrated.”
The references to Houston culture continue, Fitzgerald points out, with nods in song titles from Houston streets and “Stay Flo,” a product used to starch jeans before ironing.
“She went out of her way to do things that people just haven’t quite picked up on yet,” she says. “Not to be like, ‘They don’t know what they’re talking about. … But for me, I know exactly what she is saying and that’s what makes it special for me.”
Written by Kristen Cabrera.