Solange Releases New Album 'When I Get Home' With just two days of warning, Solange shares the surprise album When I Get Home.
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Solange Goes On An Exploration Of Origin With 'When I Get Home'

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Solange Goes On An Exploration Of Origin With 'When I Get Home'

Solange Goes On An Exploration Of Origin With 'When I Get Home'

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The artist Solange dropped a surprise new album at midnight last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAY TO THE SHOW")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Call me even on the way to the show.

SHAPIRO: Fans went wild. The album is called "When I Get Home," and it's a huge tribute to her hometown, Houston. Here to walk us through it is NPR Music's Sidney Madden. Hey there.

SIDNEY MADDEN, BYLINE: Hey. Thank you for having me.

SHAPIRO: A lot of artists drop albums that we don't talk about on the radio. But Solange has become a kind of cultural touchstone, partly because of the way she speaks to the black experience, right?

MADDEN: Absolutely. I love how you said a cultural touchstone. When Solange does something, she does it intentionally and she does it big, and it creates a moment.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAY TO THE SHOW")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Uh huh, uh huh. You can get it.

MADDEN: For those who don't know, Solange is the younger sister of Beyonce. She's done years of songwriting and arranging for Destiny's Child, as well as herself as a soloist. But in these last two albums, she's really purposely diverged from a more pop-y sentiment to become this music maker and to realign the conversation of what it means to be a black woman living in America.

SHAPIRO: OK. So this 2016 album, "A Seat At The Table," had a song, "Don't Touch My Hair," which became...

MADDEN: Yes.

SHAPIRO: ...Almost an anthem. What do you hear on this new album, "When I Get Home?" I think one of the breakout songs for sure is going to be "Almeda."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMEDA")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Pour my drinks on 'em. Baby, my mind. Sip.

SHAPIRO: Why? What is it about this song?

MADDEN: I hear great reclamation and ownership about black-created art forms, black spaces. You know? She does this laundry list of, like, black liquor, black skin, black leather.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALMEDA")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Black waves, black days, black baes, black things. These are black-owned things.

MADDEN: And it's like you can't even wash it away if you try. Like, you couldn't take away my culture from me even if you tried to.

SHAPIRO: How central is Houston, her hometown, to this album?

MADDEN: Oh, my gosh. It's - if we're going to talk about, like, the atmosphere of music and with this album, like, it's the nucleus, I would say. In every step of the way, in every song, there's a little love note or there's a little nod to a Houston rap legend, like Scarface or Devin the Dude.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOLANGE SONG, "BINZ")

MADDEN: There's a song on there called "Binz," and it's a reference to a popular street in Houston.

(SOUNDBITE OF SOLANGE SONG, "BINZ")

MADDEN: What I love most and what makes it an earworm for me is that it just meshes together reggae, and trap and a little bit of doo-wop and, yeah, it's undeniable.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BINZ")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Sun down, wind chimes. Break it down. One line, a line. Can't no see me no flex. Be kind. Dollars never show up...

SHAPIRO: The way she released this album was really interesting because she kind of reinvigorated a website that had been dormant or dead for years, BlackPlanet. Tell us about this.

MADDEN: Yeah. She'll keep you on your toes.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter).

MADDEN: So BlackPlanet is this late-'90s, early 2000s social media site. And it really brought together a niche community of black people just looking to connect online.

SHAPIRO: Did you have a BlackPlanet profile, Sidney?

MADDEN: I will plead the Fifth on that one, Ari.

SHAPIRO: (Laughter). OK. Enough said.

MADDEN: But I think by hosting and announcing that the new album was going to come on BlackPlanet, it was kind of like a nod - like, you know who this is for.

SHAPIRO: Is there one more song you think we should end on?

MADDEN: Yeah. I think we should take it out with "Sound Of Rain."

SHAPIRO: OK. Sidney Madden of NPR Music. Thanks a lot.

MADDEN: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SOUND OF RAIN")

SOLANGE: (Singing) Let's go. Nobody taking a joke like me. So nobody dress can...

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