The Drawl

A Tour of Houston, With Solange As Your Guide

An annotated map of the many H-Town references on 'When I Get Home'

By Abby Ledoux April 25, 2019 Published in the May 2019 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Image: Amy Kinkead

Solange has called her much anticipated, much acclaimed March album—her fourth—“an exploration of origin.” When I Get Home is packed with references to the streets and highways that the native Houstonian traveled on the road to becoming … her. Want to take the Solange tour? Let us be your guide with this not-at-all-to-scale map:

The second track on the album and the first of five interludes, ❶ “S McGregor,” takes its (misspelled) name from the bypass that runs alongside Brays Bayou, where Solange and her sister Beyoncé—who, as children, lived just blocks away at ❷ 3346 Parkwood Drive—grew up jogging. The song itself samples “On Status,” by Pulitzer-nominated poet Vivian Ayers Allen, as read by her daughters, actors Debbie Allen and Phylicia Rashad, who also lived in the neighborhood.

Critics quickly hailed the ninth track, ❸ “Almeda,” which features singer/producer The-Dream and rapper Playboi Carti, as the album’s standout. With references to purple drank and Florida Water (Solange’s favorite unisex cologne for protection and spiritual purification), plus an oh-so-Houston chopped-and-screwed backbone, the song is an ode both to blackness and to this city’s culture.

According to Solange’s mom, Miss Tina, Almeda itself is home to her favorite shrimp po-boy at “Nola’s”—we deduce she means There’s No Place Like NOLA, the unassuming Cajun joint at ❹ 12152 Almeda in southwest Houston.

❺ Binz, the street that cuts through the Museum District, bridging the Museum of Fine Arts with 288, was also home to the Knowles family at one point, and Solange pays it homage on the album’s 14th track of that title.

Later, on ❻ “Beltway,” which clocks in at 1:41, she croons just five different words, but its title is an obvious reference to the state highway that encircles the city.

From there, as the next track indicates, Solange would ❼ “Exit Scott” to get home to South MacGregor. Miss Tina explains this in an Instagram post, noting she’d personally stop at Frenchy’s first for fried chicken and red beans and rice.

❽ 3919 Scott was Frenchy’s original Third Ward location, though it’s since been demolished in favor of a new two-story build under construction at Scott and Alabama streets. Conveniently enough, though, there are more Frenchy’s outposts along Solange’s route, on both Almeda and Beltway 8.

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