Solo Star

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Manager and record company president Mathew Knowles, having established Destiny's Child -- featuring his daughter, Beyoncé Knowles -- as the top female vocal group of the early 21st century, has gone on to try to build an empire that includes solo releases from each of the group members, an acting career for Beyoncé, and, now, the premature emergence of younger daughter Solange as a Solo Star, or so the album title would have it. Executive producer Knowles has surrounded Solange with a bevy of trendy writer/producers, including the Underdogs, Platinum Status, Timbaland, the Neptunes, and Rockwilder, along with such guest stars as B2K and Lil' Romeo. The result is a state-of-the-art contemporary R&B album full of big beats, catchy choruses, and gimmicky production effects. But the nominal star of the show is lost somewhere in the mix. It doesn't help that the 16-year-old has a thin, undeveloped voice that is easily overwhelmed. The way to deal with that, of course, is to cut back on the busy production. Solange impresses most when the arrangements are simpler, such as on "Crush" and "Wonderland," when she doesn't have to work as hard to be heard. But there aren't enough tracks like those on the album to allow the listener to tell whether there is any talent here, or whether Solange is just another cog in her daddy's entertainment machine.

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