“Solange is coming!” The rally call echoed through the digital stratosphere on Tuesday after Knowles announced via Instagram that she’d taken over… Blackplanet.com. No, don’t check the date on this story. You read that correctly.
While artists and teams ponder the next innovative way to elicit an awed “Their MIND!” response from fans with content drops, Solange went back to #BlackTwitter’s predecessor. BlackPlanet was the online destination for black people before MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram existed. There were forums and groups for cities, organizations and affiliations, dating and job hunting. Pages were customizable (like on MySpace), teaching a whole generation of black bloggers how to code on the low. It was an immersive community; there are kids walking around right now who owe their existence to BlackPlanet. And Solange brought it back.
Fans spent Tuesday and Wednesday searching for old Hotmail and AOL email addresses and passwords, and looking around the site for the first time in years. The platform never shut down, and still feels very retro, as it’s in the process of being updated, but Solange’s new profile was sleek and modern — and offered a sampling of teaser photos, clips and messages, all fervently shared and reposted. The idea of going back to a safe online space was as enticing as the promise of new Solange content.
Creating frenzy for a new release via an old school black-owned site imagined as a world just for black people is so Solo. The wide appeal, critical acclaim and overall sonic excellence of Knowles’ last album, 2016’s Grammy-winning A Seat at the Table, elevated her to the all-hands-on-deck alert levels for a new album formerly reserved for her big sister. She has become a master of artistic innovation through simplicity, while keeping it super black.
She also keeps it super authentic to her roots. In the following days, Solange continued to release clips on her IG, all tagged with her hometown of Houston, TX as the location, with references that her newer, younger, and more mainstream-leaning fans may not have picked up on. On Wednesday, she shouted out Devin the Dude, a Houston rapper signed to the storied Rap-a-Lot records. On Thursday morning, she posted a phone number instantly recognizable to fans who were old enough to cop their own, uncensored music in the mid-’00s.
The number 281-330-8004 belonged to Houston rapper Mike Jones (Who? Mike Jones!) — who called out the active, working number in his 2005 single “Back Then,” and made it a central part of his brand. First reviving an almost forgotten platform, then bringing back the phone hotline, a throwback to a time before artists could talk to fans directly through social media. Was Solange taking us back to a bygone era of album promotion? “She gon’ go full early 2000’s on us and include some ringback tones when the album drops,” tweeted writer Dillon Stevenson (@TheDiLLon1).
The throwback-in-a-new-way rollout — and three days is a long-lead rollout in the surprise-album era — is also the formula for Knowles’ fourth studio album, When I Get Home, which she released at midnight on Friday (Mar. 1). Sony Music’s press release describes the album as “an exploration of origin. It asks the question how much of ourselves do we bring with us versus leave behind in our evolution.”
Those two sentences could also serve to summarize Solange’s career: Since breaking away from the formulaic R&B/pop crossover mold of her 2002 debut album, Solo Star, Knowles has taken time to try on sonic and cultural pieces of classic soul, R&B, funk and jazz; pairing them with futuristic themes, lyrics and visuals. A Seat at the Table was a statement piece; she’d found the perfect balance of retro-futurism. Modern and relevant with a traditional R&B grounding, the album was of-the-moment, classic and timeless all at once. This is executive producer Raphael Saadiq’s area of expertise: Over his 30-year career, he’s quietly been one of the most prolific producers in black music, specializing in a blend of old soul influences and new sound, and his work — with group Tony! Toni! Toné!, his own solo material, his writing and production for Joss Stone, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo and others and even his efforts as music supervisor for HBO’s Insecure — all reflect the vintage yet current feel invoked by A Seat at the Table.
When I Get Home stretches that blend of past and future further. The run time is a short 39 minutes, and feels like flipping through radio stations or skipping around to different tracks while riding in the car — through Houston, obviously. Solange placed city markers throughout the project: Some songs are chopped and screwed, a sound originated in Houston by producer DJ Screw and made popular by Houston artists Slim Thug, Paul Wall and Mike Jones. Tracks are slowed down and doubled up, creating the sensation of being drowsy or drunk while listening. Multi-talented performing arts sisters and hometown darlings of an older generation, Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen, are sampled on the “S Megregor” interlude. The transition from “Beltway” into “Exit Scott” samples lesbian poet, feminist and activist Pat Parker — who, like the Knowles and Allen sisters, was from Houston’s Third Ward. The previously referenced Devin the Dude appears on “Dreams,” and the King of Houston rap, Scarface, is featured on the final interlude, “Not Screwed.”
In Solo fashion, Knowles took all the Houston flavor — the chopped-and-screwed hip-hop, feminist poetry, voices from local legends, even a Crime Mob sample — and mixed it with contributions from experimental pianist and composer Chassol, indie experimentalist Panda Bear, and left-of-center hip-hop artists and producers Earl Sweatshirt, Tyler the Creator and Pharrell. Her vocals add touches of neo-soul and ‘90s R&B to that mix. Past meets present, meets future. Rap meets soul, meets jazz, meets fusion. Blackness — in multiple forms — meets world. This is completely Solange’s vision, and her presence is stronger than any of her album collaborators: While Saadiq returned for this project as a session player, Solange wrote and produced on every song, and is the main architect and executive producer. But that was a natural progression — Saadiq gave her credit for having clear vision and strategy for A Seat at the Table, once saying he was just part of her band.
Solange also feels more unencumbered here. A Seat at the Table wasn’t exactly stacked with pop hits, but it was a more traditionally formatted album than When I Get Home. This set feels like a jam session, or one continuous longplay. Only five of the 19 tracks are longer than three minutes. There isn’t even a “Cranes in the Sky”-style radio single. This project is about connection: The connection of music eras, the connection of cultural influences, and Solange’s connection to her people.
Black music and culture is shifting, as it does every decade or so. Artists and creators are working to restore a depth and richness to music and content that’s felt diminished over the last several years. Emerging stars such as H.E.R, Daniel Caesar, SZA and Jorja Smith have sounds that reach back to earlier music eras, pull elements of substance and nostalgia, and become a new thing in their art, moving the culture forward. Solange is one of the best at manifesting something completely new out of things that are familiar. She’s created her lane by not actually picking one lane, instead proclaiming that she’s bringing home with her wherever she goes, and we’re happy to follow her to the next destination.
David Archuleta Opens Up About His Sexuality in Emotional Message: ‘God Made Me How I Am For a Purpose’
The 30-year-old singer, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, revealed that he came out as gay to his family in 2014, but that he also “had similar feelings for both genders so maybe a spectrum of bisexual.” He also learned that he doesn’t “have too much sexual desires…
The 30-year-old singer, who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, revealed that he came out as gay to his family in 2014, but that he also “had similar feelings for both genders so maybe a spectrum of bisexual.” He also learned that he doesn’t “have too much sexual desires and urges as most people,” which works for him since he’s saving himself for marriage.”I just invite you to please consider making room to be more understanding and compassionate to those who are LGBTQIA+, and those who are a part of that community and trying to find that balance with their faith which also is a huge part of their identity like myself,” the Utah native wrote.He added, “I think we can do better as people of faith and Christians, including Latter-day Saints, to listen more to the wrestle between being LGBTQIA+ and a person of faith… I don’t think it should come down to feeling you have to accept one or the other. For me to find peace the reality has been to accept both are real things I experience and make who I am… You can be part of the LGBTQIA+ community and still believe in God and His gospel plan.”Archuleta, who placed second in the 2007 season of Idol at 16, scored a massive Billboard hit with his single “Crush,” which peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. His latest album, Therapy Sessions, was released 2020. The singer has been open about his Mormon beliefs over the years, and he spent time as a missionary in Chile following his run on Idol.”I’ve tried for almost 20 years to try and change myself until I realized God made me how I am for a purpose. And instead of hating what I have considered wrong I need to see why God loved me for who I am and that it’s not just sexuality. So many other traits of who I am come from how I’ve been created,” he wrote.See Archuleta’s full Instagram post here.
Aaron Carter Says He ‘Fought Like a Lion’ Against Lamar Odom in Celebrity Boxing Match
The 6-foot-10 Odom, 41, knocked out Carter, who is 10 inches shorter, in the first round of the fight, which was offered as a pay-per-view livestream on FITE.tv.”I got punched in the throat so hard lol that s–t was so much fun!!!!” the singer tweeted. “I actually had a blast so y’all can say what…
The 6-foot-10 Odom, 41, knocked out Carter, who is 10 inches shorter, in the first round of the fight, which was offered as a pay-per-view livestream on FITE.tv.”I got punched in the throat so hard lol that s–t was so much fun!!!!” the singer tweeted. “I actually had a blast so y’all can say what you want. But I don’t see you at 6’ fighting a giant.”Ice-T and his wife Coco hosted the event, with former MMA star Chuck Liddell serving as the celebrity referee.This edition of Official Celebrity Boxing was originally scheduled for last year, but was pushed to June 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The fight card also featured a match-up between hip-hop producer Cisco Rosado and rapper/producer Peter Gunz.Check out Carter’s post-fight tweets below.
Primary Wave Sells $375M Stake to Oaktree Capital
Since then, Primary Wave has either acquired or entered into partnerships with the catalogs of Stevie Nicks, the Four Seasons, Bob Marley Whitney Houston, the Culture Club, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach, Leo Sayer, K.T. Tunstall, Dan Wilson, Godsmack and Sun Records, which includes recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and…
Since then, Primary Wave has either acquired or entered into partnerships with the catalogs of Stevie Nicks, the Four Seasons, Bob Marley Whitney Houston, the Culture Club, Olivia Newton-John, Ray Charles, Burt Bacharach, Leo Sayer, K.T. Tunstall, Dan Wilson, Godsmack and Sun Records, which includes recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbinson. Most of its investments are in music publishing but the company also buys artists’ recording royalties and some record masters as the deal for Sun Record shows.”The Primary Wave team is honored to have such a respected financial institution and talented team supporting our efforts,” said Primary Wave founder and CEO Larry Mestel in a statement. “[Oaktree Capital co-chairman and chief investment officer] Bruce Karsh and I have had a working relationship for over 15 years and he has the unusual combination of business savvy and creative sensibility towards music. This is an exciting new chapter for the entire company as we continue to grow and evolve our business.”With the Oaktree investment — which was first reported by Bloomberg News — Primary Wave will be able to complete its Primary Wave Music IP Fund 3, which sources say had targeted raising $700 million for music asset acquisitions. Primary Wave filed with the SEC to establish that fund on Feb. 16. The two earlier commingled funds, Primary Wave Music IP Fund 1 and 2, have combined invested $800 million in music assets.”I’ve long admired the business model and success that Larry has built for Primary Wave and saw this Partnership as a unique opportunity to diversify our investment portfolio in a growing and uncorrelated asset class,” Karsh, added in a statement. “As a true music lover myself, I’m dedicated to the company’s growth and future success.”The two companies previously partnered in 2011 when Oaktree Capital backed Primary Wave’s offer to buy Warner Chappell when the entire Warner Music Group was up for sale. (The ended with Len Blavatnik buying the entire company.)The year later, Oaktree backed Primary Wave’s bid when Sony Music Publishing had to sell off a portion of EMI’s publishing catalog. The Rosetta music publishing catalog, as it was called, contained Virgin Music Publishing and Famous Music U.K. songwriters, including song catalogs of Iggy Pop, Culture Club, Kurt Cobain and more. The deal ultimately went to BMG.”It is quite impressive how many legendary music catalogs Primary Wave has acquired over their 15 years in business and we are proud to be aligned with Larry and his team for this next chapter,” said Oaktree Capital managing director and co-head of North America Brian Laibow in a statement.Like many other owners of music publishing and recorded music assets, sources say Primary Wave is considering testing the public market at some point. That means it could do public offering to buy the music assets of its commingled funds. Already in the last year, Round Hill Music has joined Hipgnosis Songs Fund on the public markets, while Reservoir is in the midst of a reverse merger with Roth CH Acquisition II Co. that will make it a publicly-traded company.In other news, Primary Wave has cut a global distribution deal with the Virgin Music Label & Artist Services, an indie distributor under the Capitol Music Group umbrella. As part of that deal, Virgin will distribute the Sun Records catalog and other masters owned by Primary Wave, as well as records from Primary Wave Music’s strategic partner the Gaither Group, which owns the labels Gaither Music, Green Hill and Emerald Wave.