SOLÉ, November 1999

Photos, discography

"Shy" is not a word many people would use to describe Solé (So-LAY). Especially after seeing the steamy video for her hit single "4, 5, 6" and her impressive turn as a guest host on BET's "Live From L.A."

Nonetheless, Solé confides, "As far as being one-on-one, I'm naturally a shy person."

Asked how she can say this in light of the hardcore, in-your-face performances marking her live and recorded output, she asserts:

"It's like I have a split personality. I'm generally a sweet person. I think about everybody else before I think about me, and that's been bad sometimes. But in my music, I'm hard. It's about me. What you hear on this album is me taking care of me."

Early in her relationship with her record label, an executive asked Solé if she could pull off the attitude he heard on her demos in a live setting.

"That attitude is my attitude," she replied. "It's just not my only attitude."

Elaborating on her stage skills, the Kansas City, Mo., native attests:

"I enjoy getting in front of people and going crazy. Whenever JT Money and I are getting ready to do a show, people who don't know me say, 'Oh, you're so cute, you're so pretty.' They think I'm this little girl who's gonna sing a song. And then I go out there and pow! I'm just shouting it and sounding like the boys. I do my thing and show out... then I go offstage. The person onstage is like my alter ego. But it's all me. There's a lot of different sides to everybody."

Produced primarily by Chris "Tricky" Stewart (JT Money, Tyrese, Blaque), Skin Deep is a showcase for the many different sides of Solé. Swaggering boasts ("Iy Yi Yi") and bouncy party tracks ("Ain't Nobody," "Get Up in It") stand toe-to-toe with a vividly imagined revenge fantasy ("The Story") and what Solé calls "a ghetto love story" ("Our World"). They ensure there's something for everyone on Skin Deep, but it's the songs about thorny sexual politics ("4, 5, 6," "It Wasn’t Me," "Tryin’ Too Long") and hard-won self-discovery ("Pain," "4 tha Love of U," "Never Thought I") that give the album its emotional center.

Of the latter, Solé confirms:

"These are stories of things I've gone through, and a lot of them are angry. But they're things I needed to say. I feel like everybody goes through certain things in their life because it's how you learn, it's how you get to where you need to be. Sometimes you say to yourself, 'Did I really have to go through all that to get here?' But that's what makes you realize, I can do anything."

-- Courtesy of

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