Janelle Monáe is an utterly mind-blowing talent that is sure to change the face of popular music in 2010. My hyperbole is seriously no match for what she does in the video for “Tightrope”
Imagine if Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Prince, Shirley Bassey, James Brown, Grace Jones, and Rihanna had a daughter, and Outkast produced her. Scratch that. I don’t think there are really words to describe what Janelle Monáe is up to. Her vocal delivery effortlessly slips between sultry, R&B ballsy, and almost childish in the span of single verse. She moves like there’s no such thing as gravity, and she has a keen sense theatricality. Oh. And she’s gorgeous. I’ll just shut up now. Watch the video. I’ll try to say something useful below.
If the available videos and tunes are any indication, Monáe appears to be bringing pop music into the 21st century, shedding any cumbersome sense of niche or category as she does so. Although you can definitely hear the Outkast influence on the tune above, so far the material from Monae’s upcoming The ArchAndroid bends genres like they simply don’t exist. Just try to call this hip hop, or funk, or soul, or any of a million other things you’ll try to call it, and you will fail. And on top of her mind-blowing talent as a performer, Monae apparently is presenting this as a concept album, having generated the material while traveling through places like Moscow, Prague, Istanbul, Berlin, Amsterdam, New York, citing as inspiration artists like Salvador Dalí, Walt Disney, OutKast, Stevie Wonder, Octavia Butler, David Bowie, Andy Warhol, and John Williams. Learn more from the press release on hiphoppress.com, or in this Billboard piece. I could’ve saved lot of words by just saying “Damn. Check this out”. My thoughts don’t do her talent justice.
The ArchAndroid is due for release May 18, 2010
And apparently “The ArchAndroid” isn’t just a concept CD, it’s an “EMOTION PICTURE” whose cast includes Big Boi of OutKast, poet Saul Williams, the band Of Montreal, Deep Cotton, and the Wondaland Arch Orchestra. Here’s the trailer: