Hailing from the Knowles music factory in Houston, TX, it’s the debut album from mini-Beyoncé! Solange takes the notion “It’s all about who you know” to ridiculous new heights with the lackluster Solo Star. The album is a true family affair, with writing and production credits by big sis Beyoncé, manager/father/guru Matthew Knowles and a silver platter of superstar producers (Timbaland, Rockwilder, the Neptunes). Solange’s voice is uncannily similar to her superstar sister’s bellowing pipes and the teen’s identity crisis is unavoidable across the entire length of the disc: the satisfying “Feelin’ You” has the multi-culti hues of Nelly Furtado while the bass-grinding “Ain’t No Way” is reminiscent of tracks on Brandy’s Full Moon. Solange bears shades of Aaliyah by way of Static and Timbaland on the track “Get Together.” It’s this kind of beat-biting copy-cat that may slowly chip away at Aaliyah and Timbo’s own musical legacy.
The largely synthetic-sounding Solo Star follows the growing industry standard in which the focus is on production rather songwriting. The entire hip-hop genre gets dragged down to a new low with the jaw-droppingly asinine “Thinkin’ About You”; co-written and produced by Beyoncé, the track is built around the theme from “Scooby Doo.” (Yes, Hanna and Barbera even get writing credits.) The cute “True Love,” a duet with Lil’ Romeo, is a sad affirmation that hip-hop’s bling-bling mentality trickles down to the kids: “I knew it was love at first sight and it wasn’t about the dividends.” Linda Perry and Rockwilder, the folks who brought us the new-and-improved Xtina, provide the album’s solo star, “Wonderland.” The track is both robust and melodic while Solange’s performance is patently uplifting. Though it’s thankfully free of needless interlude filler, Solo Star is entirely too long; as if the 16 tracks listed weren’t enough, the album is packed with bonus track after bonus track and seemingly never ends!