Calling all cool cats, funkadelic sapiens, androgynous lovers and robot rockers: the Funky Mother has arrived!
Born from the womb of a groovy bassline, Janelle Monáe has been high-steppin’ to hihats ever since the release of her first EP The Audition in 2003. Although The Audition itself was a very limited release, her music ended up in the ears of Outkast’s Big Boi, who passed her sounds on to Sean Combs like a freshly lit joint in the back of a Chicago jazz club. Puffy took one hit of that shit and was like “Aww yea, that’s that good good”; Monáe signed with Bad Boy Records soon after.
In 2007 she released Metropolis, the critically-acclaimed EP in which Monáe constructs a futuristic world populated by androids, humans, and an overabundance of rhythm. Building off a concept that began with her independent EP The Audition,Metropolis is a 5-track album that tells us the tale of Cindi Mayweather (also known as Android. No. 57821), a hip-rockin’ cyborg who falls in love with a human. This is forbidden in the city of Metropolis, so she is scheduled for disassembly. DUN DUN DUNNNNN!
In 2010 Monáe brought us The ArchAndroid, a work of art that really ups the musical motherfuckin’ ante. In this album, she weaves funk, pop, soul, hip-hop, and jazz into a melodious tapestry of bombastic drums and electric fuzz. Drawing from inspirations such as David Bowie and Outkast, Monáe continues the narrative of Cindi Mayweather in her metallic dystopian future. Conceptually, music writer Greg Kot described the album as "a self-empowerment manifesto couched inside a futuristic 'emotion-picture' about an android’s battle to overcome oppression. The notion of space travel and 'new worlds' becomes a metaphor for breaking the chains that enslave minorities of all types – a theme that has a long tradition in African-American music, from Sun Ra and Parliament-Funkadelic to Cannibal Ox and OutKast".
So yea. LISTEN TO THIS SHIZ.
Monáe’s most recent album The Electric Lady, while similar in themes, concept, imagery, and overall sonic vibeyness of its predecessors, also showcases Monáe’s ability to slow it down with power ballads and downtempo pop. With this album, Monáe continues to hone her sound into something that – although its musical influences are obvious – is wholly and uniquely her.
I saw chicky in Philadelphia last November. Jawn was wild. Her live show is absolutely an accurate visual representation of her album – it comes complete with characters and dialogue to complement the Cindi Mayweather narrative, and there are pretty lights. There are also straightjackets involved. It’s cool. And I'll bet anyone a beer that she does a Michael Jackson cover at her set this year. One of the things I really appreciated about her show was that it drew an incredibly diverse crowd: the awkwardest of the awk and the coolest of the cool were all letting loose and groovin'. So if you like to dance, BE AT THIS SHOW. Her show is boogie-woogielicious, and not something to be missed. I imagine it'd be hard to leave a performance of hers without a smile on your face, thinking "Wow, what a show!".
Sounds like: Michael Jackson's ghost jumped in Prince's body and teamed up with Big Boi to produce the Dreamgirls Soundtrack with The Roots and Parliament Funkadelic providing instrumentation and spiritual guidance.
Janelle Monáe almost exclusively wears tuxedos while creating music. She considers it to be her work uniform. She finds it classy, and she's right. Monáe has been nominated for six Grammies.
I didn't include any live videos just because her live show has a bit of a narrative to it, and I didn't want to spoil anything for anyone.
Cold War (this video is beautiful):
Come Alive (The War Of The Roses)THIS SONG IS THE FUNKNASTIEST!:
Dance Apocalyptic (Live on Letterman):
Givin Em What They Love (feat. Prince):
If you like funk, soul, hip-hop, drums, 70's music, 80's music, dancing, Prince, Outkast, concept albums, overtures, androids, dystopian novels, marijuana, or oxygen, there is a very good chance that you would enjoy Janelle Monáe at Bonnaroo this year.
Monae's show is easily going to be one of the most fun to be at this year. The energy in her songs and performances seem perfect for Bonnaroo. This is going to be amazing. No doubt she is going to live up to the name "Electric Lady!"