Solange is about to release her next studio album. It’s her follow-up to A Seat At The Table, one of my all-time favourite albums, one of the best of 2016, and undoubtedly the best of Solange’s discography. It’s not the first time Solange has had to face pressure to live up to impossibly high standards. She’s had to do that her entire career. This is the first time the standards she’s striving for were set by herself.
In anticipation of her new music – which still doesn’t have a release date – Solange is profiled in T, The New York Times style magazine. The feature starts with proclaiming Solange as a “mononym,” someone who is recognized by one name only. She’s compared to other prolific mononyms like Prince, Madonna, and Iman. There’s one mononym, THE mononym of this generation, that is not mentioned. She is my Queen and I will respect her as such but I’m hesitant to mention her here as well. Solange has proven herself to be worthy of praise and attention without constant reference to her big sister. However, “dem children of Celestine and Matthew” do have similarities worth noting, and their timing is one of them. Beyoncé and Jay-Z just wrapped up OTRII. “Dem children of Celestine and Matthew” aren’t going to give us much time to breathe before Solange drops more brilliance on our necks – in the style of her big sis.
The album’s release is imminent this fall, probably sometime soon… The record will likely arrive into the world fully formed at some mysterious and unexpected moment, like a meteor cratering into the culture.
Do I need a Solange Emergency Fund? I have a Beyoncé one, of course. Either way, I am READY for Solange’s new era. We don’t know much about it, except for the few details Solange gives to writer Ayana Mathis. Solange, like her sister, is all about the mystery. She doesn’t talk much and when she does, it’s very deliberate. Here’s what we do know about the new work:
“There is a lot of jazz at the core… But with electronic and hip-hop drum and bass because I want it to bang and make your trunk rattle.”
Um, yes please. Please make my trunk rattle. This makes the album out to be sonically in opposition to A Seat At the Table. Solange calls A Seat At the Table her “punk album” because she says, “it was like, this is my time to shake things up and be loud.” She is loud and mad on the album lyrically but I wouldn’t say that the smooth R&B melodies were trunk-rattling. Ayana Mathis paints a different picture of what Solange says of her new work.
The record will be warm, she says, fluid and more sensual than her last one.
Warm, fluid, sensual, trunk-rattling and banging. Some of these things are not like the others but this is the beauty of Solange, the artist who performed at the Guggenheim. Genres aren’t really her thing. Defying expectations are. Transformations are. Solange’s thing is creating art that breaks down barriers. It’s her performance at the Guggenheim that may be the best indicator of what’s to come.
She released herself, and her talents, from the constraints of category. She expanded the context in which her music is usually heard to include more traditional concert settings as well as the halls of high art. In doing so, she radically reframed herself, her music and representations of African-American womanhood.
The feature goes on to say that Solange has given herself a “self-guided apprenticeship” where she is studying movie-musicals from the 1930s, and learning from acclaimed choreographers.
“I want to continue to learn about all of the mechanisms of theater. I want to spend a month going to Vegas shows, just being backstage and learning the logistics.”
If there’s another thing that binds the children of Celestine and Matthew, it’s their work ethic. Solange is doing her homework. She is coming in to this new era studied and prepared. I am READY. No matter how prepared you are, one of the things that comes with work is fear. All the talk about visual creation and performance art might seem obscure or disconnected from every-day life but Solange’s feelings about releasing her new work are relatable in any job.
“I have this fear living in my body about releasing work,” she says. “I don’t know any artist that doesn’t feel that before they hit the send button.”
Hit the send button, no matter how scared you are. That’s your Tuesday wisdom from Solange.
You can read T Magazine’s full feature on Solange here.