On a recent Tuesday at the Museum of Moden Art’s branch at P.S.1 in Queens, Solange stood in front of an image of the African-American activist Angela Davis.
“I dressed up as her for Halloween last year,” she says, snapping a picture with her iPhone in the empty museum (she had the place to herself thanks to one of her curator friends). “I just threw it together at the last minute. That’s kind of how I usually do things.”
Indeed, as Knowles has demonstrated throughout her dozen-plus years in show business, she’s nothing if not resourceful.
For the younger sister of Beyoncé — that pop juggernaut for whom Super Bowls and presidential inaugurations are routine — an afternoon at a museum without crowds, guards, and pesky no-photo policies is her ideal level of excitement these days. After spending nearly half her life on the major-label payroll, Knowles moved from L.A. to Brooklyn, where her never-quite-burgeoning pop career evolved into something more interesting — and in the process, she became a nouveau-bohemian star in indie-rock and fashion circles alike.
True, her sleek new EP released on the boutique label Terrible Records, is her Solange 2.0 calling card. Produced by Blood Orange mastermind Dev Hynes and powered by its captivating lead single “Losing You,” the album has won her accolades and a new fan base — including Girls creator and star Lena Dunham, who used the song in the show’s season 2 premiere. Knowles, it seems, has found her element.
Her liberated new look stems from the fact that she paid for all of it — the EP, the video, even her website — out of pocket. “Every decision that’s been made behind this record, from the exact color of the album’s artwork to what record stores we put the record in, has been made by me,” she says.
Her son Julez, 8, is getting in on the act too: He’s already taking a stab at becoming a rapper. While Knowles is “terrified” that her son wants to enter the family business, she still encourages him to follow his passions. In fact, she keeps pictures of his handwritten verses on her phone, one of which she offered to read aloud:
“You don’t know how to rap/You’re so fat, like a rat in a mousetrap/You got a pen?/No? I didn’t think so/I’ll get you one if you know how to flow, yo/You got a pocket? I didn’t think so/Because you’re like an armadillo in the road, bro/Have you seen the movie hunger games?” And then it stops there.
After the museum, Solange heads to Williamsburg, the bustling hipster mecca of Brooklyn, for rehearsal. But first she picks up an order from local comfort-food joint Pies ‘N’ Thighs: fried catfish, mac and cheese, greens, lemonade, and pecan pie.
“I’m such a Southern girl,” she says almost apologetically. “I plan on moving back in the next year or two, when it makes sense for Julez schoolwise. I think either Austin or New Orleans. Somewhere warm, for sure.”
This is an abbreviated version of a story in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly. To read the whole story — including Solange’s thoughts on her unique career, the fashion world, and her sister Beyoncé — pick up the latest issue on newsstands now. Plus, head to PopStyle to see a gallery of Solange’s style evolution.