[Woodland Arts Society & Bad Boy Records]
Key Tracks: “Dance Apocolyptic”, “Q.U.E.E.N.”, “Givin Em What They Love”
Janelle Monáe is back from Arch Android hiatus with her second full-length studio album that continues the space saga she set into motion six years ago. As America’s androgynous sexy suit wearing Afro-punk pompadour princess, Monáe continues to push boundaries with her songs and style.
Somehow in between performing at the White House for the Obama’s and posing for Covergirl ads, she’s found the time to collab with artists Prince, Erykah Badu, Solange, Miguel and Esperanza Spalding to create a 19-track futuristic funky symphony that she’s titled The Electric Lady.
Monáe wastes no time “Givin Em What They Love” with a sultry collaboration with Prince. Yes the Prince (cue fan girl moment)! The track is pure ear porn with Prince’s unmistakable falsetto that served as the soundtrack to many of us generation yers conception in little red corvettes. The perfect blend of old and new pop and soul this track is a baby maker.
The next track that stands out is “Q.U.E.E.N.” a freedom anthem featuring Erykah Badu that is simply a piece of art. In the into to the song’s music video Monáe tells listeners they’re in a living museum where legendary rebels throughout history like herself and her compatriots have been frozen in suspended animation. The combination of kick ass lyrics, Badu singing about booties and an amazing rap at the end give this song a double thumbs up.
In an ooo’s and ahh’s slow grind track with Miguel called “Prime Time”, Monáe continues to explore her inner temptress. The influence of Miguel’s unique style of R&B is extremely apparent in the overall sound and production of the track in the way the pair croon. Listening to the song is almost like walking in on a couple’s private moment with one another. It’s fascinating but feels like a personal private moment.
Overall there are so many well-produced hits on this album, radio stations will have a hard time not giving Monáe tons of airtime in the coming months. Such hits include head bobber “Electric Lady” featuring Beyoncé’s stylish younger sister Solange, “Sally Ride”, an ode to the first woman to travel to space and of course the upbeat schoolyard sound of “Dance Apocalyptic”.
The album definitely has a lot more commercial appeal than her first album, which peaked at number 17 on Billboard’s 200 chart despite being named the album of the year by several music critics including the guardian and earning her a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary R&B album.
Without even a bad track on the album, I can’t stress how mind blowing The Electric Lady is in terms of interpreting complex themes and pushing musical genre’s boundaries. To Janelle I say, “You go girl”! Keep making your famously funky tunes that show just how cool it is to be an individual and rebel against sexism in today’s Kar-trashian society.
This album review was written for ACRN.com.