(by Dan 'Monty' Montalto)
It's not easy being the younger sister of a mega-famous-the-world-over pop icon.
No, seriously. Just ask Solange Knowles, Beyoncé's 21-year-old kid sis. Let's face it, when your sister is so famous that she practically owns the rights to the second letter of the alphabet, it's pretty hard to convince anyone that based solely on your artistic merits, some of the biggest and most creative names in music helped out with your record. But when we sat down with her earlier this week, Solange told us that it took some pretty serious convincing (and even a little stalking) to get names like Cee-Lo, Pharrell and Mark Ronson onboard for her latest record. As she puts it, when they first heard she wanted to work with them, they had no way of knowing if she was a serious artist or "someone's little annoying sister trying to do a record."
Cee-Lo, who co-wrote three of the songs on Solange's album, didn't exactly jump all over the opportunity when Solange first came calling. Initially, she couldn't even get him on the phone, and seemingly endless "scheduling conflicts" on the part of the Gnarls Barkley vocalist kept her from meeting with him. Maybe it was just a coincidence, but as Solange told us herself, "no one can be that freakin' busy." But she wasn't about to get blown off. She decided to take matters into her own hands — by essentially stalking Cee-Lo and forcing him to listen to her album.
Solange tells us how she stalked Cee-Lo (with the help of an MTV alum) in this video.
As for the record, Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams, due out this August, anyone expecting an album sounding like a dozen Beyoncé B-sides or even a retread of Solange's 2003 debut Solo Star will undoubtedly be disappointed. It seems that B's kid sister looked to some very different inspirations for her second album. The singer tells us that she took her musical cues from her love of '60s and '70s Motown and soul icons such as the Supremes, the Marvelettes and Dusty Springfield, as well as recent electronica faves Thievery Corporation and Boards of Canada, making her sound very distinct from her big sister. Solange's inspirations are clearly heard in the Pharrell Williams-produced lead single "I Decided" as well as in "Sand Castle," co-written by Cee-Lo and featuring the voice Q-Tip, which is now up on Solange's MySpace page.
So, will Solange's artistic independence and genre-mixing pay off? Will she end up the Janet Jackson to Beyoncé's Michael? Or will she be the La Toya?