Destination Metropolis: Janelle Monáe’s ‘ArchAndroid’ Out Tuesday

Posted: May 17, 2010 by RA in Music
Tags: , , , , ,

Following the the brilliant Metropolis Suite I of IV: The Chase EP, Janelle Monáe is set to return this Tuesday with The ArchAndroid, intended as Suites II and III of her Metropolis saga.

I’m excited. You should be too. Here are 5 reasons why:

Metropolis: I of IV1. The Metropolis influence is pretty great, but not so literal it consumes her work.
Inspired by Fritz Lang’s dystopic Sci-Fi classic of the same name, Monáe’s Metropolis project follows Cyndi Mayweather, a female android who consorts with a human and now must be shut down.

She first appeared on everyone’s radar on Big Boi’s Got Purp 2 mixtape and then OutKast’s Idlewild album, but she first impressed me on the fantastically frenetic “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!”. Then I heard the haunting, utterly brilliant “Sincerely, Jane.” (she’s big on punctuation, no?) and decided she had potential.

2. Her stage show is pretty sick.
I still wasn’t so hot on her until I saw her open for Erykah Badu on Governor’s Island last summer. She nailed that shit to the ground. She’s often unfairly described as a “female Andre 3000,” but her show is really more James Brown than anything else. She’s a real experience onstage — a little 5’3″ pixie in a tuxedo and pompadour, doing the Moonwalk, Crazy Legs, and basically the entire The Godfather of Soul repertoire. With her manic footwork, she bounces from one end of the stage to the other, only stopping to paint the occasional picture on a canvas placed front and center. All the while, she never misses a note.

And I think that’s the most compelling thing about her. It’s a great comfort in this, the era of Gaga, that there still are artists who aspire to wild, engaging stage shows without forgetting to actually sing. Or write songs that are just as compelling without the distraction of big-budget videos or stage shows. The woman is honestly something that needs to be experienced. She’s opening again for E-Badu at the Roseland Ballroom on June 7 (with ?uestlove. YEAH!), and I can’t fucking wait.

a long fork3. She signed on to Bad Boy… the smart way
Indie Soul music fans around the world groaned in unison when they heard she signed a deal with Bad Boy in 2008.  She had already released The Chase, and had a good bit of buzz surrounding her. So many wondered why she would sign with Destroyer of Dreams (ask Black Rob, 112, Cheri Dennis) for a little extra pub. Silly move.

Turns out she was silly like a fox! She was quick to assure the panicked masses that this was a good thing — she signed with Bad Boy through her own independent Wondaland Arts Society label, and would essentially be using Bad Boy for distribution and promotion.

Great move. Shortly after the deal, she shot a video for “Many Moons”, off The Chase with director (and Wondaland cohort) Alan Ferguson. That’s right. Bad Boy paid for it, but Wondaland reaps the benefits. Like a Fox.

4. The aforementioned video
The 3000 comparisons were exacerbated by her video for “Many Moons”, a kick-ass clip that greatly enhances the song, like music videos are supposed to do.

Tightrope5. What we’ve already heard
To get some buzz going, she’s released two cuts off the album early this year. “Cold War” continues in the Sci-Fi-esque vein of Metropolis and acquits itself well, but “Tightrope” is the real winner here. It set the internet ablaze in February with its exuberant stomp, killer horns (or “classy brass”), and a brilliant verse from the better half of OutKast, enunciated to match the song’s bass licks. But in all honesty, the best part of the song has to be Big Boi’s background vocals on the second verse.

Also, “sweat like a thong in a[n] asscrack” is the “heavy like a first-day period” of 2010. Line of the fucking year.

PREVIEW THE ALBUM HERE.

See you Tuesday.

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