Janelle Monae – The Electric Lady

Janelle Monae is easily the coolest cyborg strutting the stratosphere.


Review by David Feltman

Janelle Monae is easily the coolest cyborg strutting the stratosphere. Filling the gap left when spacey hip-hopster Andre 3000 all but vanished from the airwaves, Monae descends on Earth with her second full-length album to continue her futuristic tale or rebel androids taking down The Man.

The general concepts driving the album’s narrative haven’t changed. Lyrics like, “I’ll reprogram your mind. Come on. Get in. My spaceship leaves at 10,” maintain her robo-centric stories, but musically this is one of Monae’s most dynamic albums. Monae is utterly unbridled on The Electric Lady, cranking out 007-esque scores, ukulele-driven ’50s rock and waltzing ’60s Euro-pop at a whim. Her songs are filled with snaps, claps and snares as well as synth-pop melodies and hip-hop beats. Her brand of psychedelic soul belongs in it’s own special genre.

Monae calls in big guns like Prince, Erykah Badu and Esperanza Spalding to spice things up. But ultimately these big names are little more than window dressing that are completely dominated by the strength of Monae’s presence. Track titles like “The Electric Lady” and “What an Experience” seem to make reference to Jimi Hendrix, and the sci-fi, psychedelic spirit makes Monae’s sophomore effort a worthy ancestor of Electric Lady Land, but honestly nothing else sounds like The Electric Lady.

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