It’s hard to come up in the shadow of show biz siblings, just ask Charlie Murphy or Ray J. Maybe that’s why Solange has transformed from simply “Beyonce’s little sister” into an eclectic-DJing, indie-rock group collaborating, photo-blogglng hipster (hipstress?).
Before she reinvented herself, Solange kinda had her own lane. Back in the Destiny’s Child days, Lil’ “Solo” carved her own niche in the music industry–dancing in videos (for her sister’s group), writing hit songs (for her sister) and cursing out morning news crews (sticking up for her sister). Even released reggae-inspired “Solo Star” album (on her sister’s record label) to underscore her creative, err, independence. OK, so that “niche” was a coattail.
But when Solange assisted indie-darlings Dirty Projectors on their “Stillness Is The Move” during a fashion week performance this month, it was clear that Beyonce’s tagalong had somehow morphed into the Knowles-in-the-know.
Remember when Bey and Hov showed at Grizzly Bear’s Brooklyn show this past August? Yeah, that was coordinated by Solo, who played with and befriended the buzzed-about rockers at SummerSonic festival in Osaka a month earlier. She’s also recorded a track with Of Montreal, scheduled to appear on their fall release (the band has some material it’s hoping to record with Bey, too).
Maybe the year Solange spent in Idaho–trailing then-husband Daniel Smith and toting a newborn on her hip–shocked her into growing her own wings. While it wasn’t exactly a Malcolm-in-Mecca transformation (she told Blender that she spent lots of nights in redneck bars playing Marvin Gaye and drinking Coronas),the girl came back to Houston divorced, emboldened and 21. She spent three years recording her next album, 2008’s “Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, a release that head Geffen head Ron Fair calling her the next M.I.A.
The junior Knowles also bonded with a core of other artists that have had to back-door their way into releasing music. Solange and Grizzly’s Ed Droste have both famously ranted about “the industry” and it’s confining labels, Droste in a Pitchfork interview, Solange on the mixtape-only “F&ck The Industry”. Now with A-Trak and Q-Tip mentoring her budding DJ career, rocker-cosigns and fashion party invites, Solo’s suddenly the cool hunter that Beyonce trails.