Have you heard her name yet? No? Well it is one that is gonna get bigger in time. The first time I heard of Janelle Monae was roughly two years back when I received her album, Metropolis, in the mail. It sparked my attention but I felt confused. Honestly, I couldn’t figure out what genre she belonged in. The songs didn’t make total sense to me and to my own fault, I didn’t take much time to learn about her. Yet, I could hear the talent in her voice. I couldn’t seem to figure out what was missing from that first record… But now? The woman is good to go. Going back to the first album–it isn’t as good as this new one but definitely better than what I gave it credit for. Who should you we thank for all this awesomeness? Mr. Sean “Diddy” Combs. Whoda thunk it? Not me. I thought his career was coming to a halt. Diddy gave her full freedom to explore her voice and musical talent—allowing this beautiful masterpiece of talent to come out. It is fucking fabulous. I don’t have the words to explain. She is a force to be reckoned with.
When Janelle Monae signed to Bad Boy, she was unveiled to a specific audience. When introduced, Diddy said: “This is possibly the most important signing of my career,” Combs continued. “I thank God for blessing me with an artist like Janelle Monae. Now, are y’all ready to go to church?” And so she sang her heart out—taking her audience on an incredibly journey I am sure.
Let’s start with the basics about her: She is a native of Kansas City, Kansas and was born in 1985. She left home in order pursue musical theater at AMDA. In little time she realized that Broadway wasn’t her calling and moved to Atlanta, Georgia where she met Outkast’s Big Boi. She put together what she called a concept album that was to be released in four parts via her website and mp3 websites for download. However, things changed once she signed to Bad Boy. Once she signed, some revisions were made to the album and hard copies were released. She was nominated for a Grammy in ’09 and toured recently with Of Montreal as well as No Doubt.
Back to the album, ArchAndroid. This full-length (and I mean fullllll length) album is considered to be the second and third suite/part of Metropolis. In this album, her alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather, the protagonist in her last album, becomes a main figure to the android community of Metropolis.
Sounds confusing, right? It really isn’t. Monae is using her albums to tell a story that travels across multiple albums. It is a saga about a futuristic android realizing her super powers and using them to stop discrimination.
Here is a synopsis in her own words—
This album is amazing because she crosses all genres throughout the album without making it lose integrity. Soul? Check. Electronic? Check. Hip Hop? Check. Indie Rock? Good to go. But it isn’t just that. Her voice is able to morph into each style with such ease while at the same time creating a movie through words. It is…insane.
When you first listen to this album you might overwhelmed and amazed. But listen to it again and maybe a couple more times in a row. Things will start to make sense and everything will be that much more amazing.
“Many Moons” the OFFICIAL short film. (from Metropolis, her first album)