Everyone knows who Queen Bey is—you know, Beyoncé Knowles. She’s one of the most successful female singers of all time. And with such a big reputation and following, younger siblings can sometimes get lost in the mix.
Beyoncé’s little sister, Solange Knowles, has actually been around for quite a while now. She’s a singer and songwriter who has dabbled in acting, but is best known for her musical efforts.
In 2003, Solange released her first album, Solo Star. We reviewed her sophmore effort, Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, back in 2008. Since then, she’s released an EP (2012’s True) and her third full-length effort (2016’s A Seat at the Table).
Now, Solange has just surprise dropped the hefty, 19-track effort When I Get Home. Filled with multiple interludes, the album features samples of poetry from women such as Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, as well as musical collaborations with Gucci Mane and Playboy Carti.
It’s a soulful, synthesized album that draws on Solange’s own Southern roots, while praising black culture and dabbling in spiritual elements (and occasionally explicit ones, too).
“Things I Imagined” finds Solange hazily singing about “taking on the lie” with regard to things she’s previously believed. “Dreams” focuses on the aspirations she had as a young girl, including some that have sparked hope and others that have caused despair: “I grew up a little girl with/Dreams, they come a long way, not today.”
“Time (is)” tells us about someone who has given Solange hope and perspective in difficult times: “‘Give your all,’ you would say to me/ … And it gives me hope for the trials/And the fear of the unknown that moves too close.”
“Almeda,” “Binz” and “My Skin My Logo” praise the perseverance and beauty of African-American culture. The first says, “Black faith still can’t be washed away/Not even in the Florida water.” And in “Binz,” Solange talks about how her hard work has led to her wealth.
Interludes such as “S McGregor,” “Can I Hold the Mic,” “We Deal With the Freak’n,” “Not Screwed” and “Exit Scott” address topics including bravery in the face of the unfamiliar, creativity, women’s purpose on the earth and love.
“I’m a Witness” seems to capture a prayerlike conversation Solange has with God: “You can work through me/You can say what you need in my mind/I’ll be your vessel/I’ll do it every time.”
“Jerrod” offers an intimate glimpse at two romantic partners who want to know each other, even in the messy parts: “Give you all the pain … /Give you all the things I’ve lived through.”
Many songs (“Down With the Clique,” “Way to the Show,” “Almeda,” “My Skin My Logo,” “Jerrod,” “Binz,” “Stay Flo,” “Sound of Rain”) include suggestive lines that hint at sex, as well as referencing alcohol, smoking marijuana and living lavishly.
“Stay Flo” talks about getting drunk (“N-ggas get faded and feel it on they face”), “Almeda” references marijuana (“smokin’ that dope, that is strong) and “Sound of Rain” talks exclusively (and steamily) about sex.
Interludes “We Deal With the Freak’n” and “Nothing Without Intention” reference spiritual energy, as well as spiritual healing allegedly associated with voodoo.
Profanity on several tracks that earn an “Explicit” label includes a few uses of both the f- and s-words, as well as a handful of uses of “a–,” “ho,” “b–ch” and “n–ga.”
Laced with R&B, hip-hop, jazz and synthesizers, When I Get Home takes listeners back a few steps while launching them forward as well. The lyrics here are actually pretty sparse, but many of the ones we do hear are dense and impactful. They dive deeply into African-American roots, the influence of women in culture and the impact of other influential figures.
Still, many of this album’s lyrics are also quite problematic. References to sex and drugs turn up regularly, while harsh profanity can be heard on several tracks as well. There’s also a heavy dose of spiritual content drawn from influences outside of Christianity.
All in all, When I Get Home delivers some positive messages, but it’s earned that “Explicit” tag for a reason.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).