’Janelle Monáe – PrimeTime ft. Miguel’
’Janelle Monáe  – Givin Em What They Love ft. Prince’
’Janelle Monáe – Electric Lady ft. Solange’
’Janelle Monáe – Dorothy Dandridge Eyes ft. Esperanza Spalding’

As a child of a drug-addicted father with a Kansas City upbringing, and after early days spent in New York City, Philadelphia, and eventually Atlanta trying to make it into the music, it was apparent that Janelle Monáe’s past was more elaborate and obscured than most artists in the industry. Instead of dwelling on the struggle or waiting for a hero to come rescue her, Monáe became her own super-hero in the form of a George Clinton and David Bowie inspired android named Cindi Mayweather. Armed with a classically trained voice, black and white suit, and a creativity that has not been seen since the 80’s, Monáe’s alter-ego became more than just a form of escapism, but a savior from the ever-growing monotony of today’s R&B genre.

With her major label sophomore release The Electric Lady, Monáe continues to take listeners on a grand journey through the inner workings of her mental space. Similar to her 2010 ArchAndroid release, the android tale continues but with a far more personal take along a course through R&B, funk, rock, jazz, and rap. Bringing in a wide array of guests and familiar artists, Monáe conveys a fictional landscape that is both a nostalgic venture into the great sounds of R&B’s past and a pop-oriented, radio romp of songs about love and heartbreak.

Opening with her signature Bond theme-inspired “Suite IV: Electric Overture,” Monáe transitions quickly into the tracks that are accompanied by strong features. “Givin Em What They Love” is the highly anticipated Prince collaboration, which comes complete with funky guitar rips and quotable lyrics delivered through attitude-filled vocals. “Q.U.E.E.N.” the album’s lead single, brings in Erykah Badu for a self-love anthem and finds Monáe spitting some clever bars. The percussion loops of “Electric Lady” and Solange assisted hook contribute to the nostalgic vibe of the project, while the Pixies‘ “Where is My Mind” sampled “PrimeTime” featuring Miguel slows it down with a cool Motown ballad. “Dorothy Dandridge Eyes” with Esperanza Spalding meanwhile, is a catchy, jazz tune that quickly grows on you.

Although there are plenty of great moments on the album, some tracks do derail its momentum. For example, “It’s Code” is a 70’s-inspired, lounge track that just doesn’t seem to hold the same emotional weight in delivery or lyrics as the album’s similar composition, “Can’t Live Without Your Love.”

Vibrant, eclectic, talented, charismatic, and innovative are just a few words that describe the makings of a true artist that can hold longevity in the industry. Where some rely more on commercial success, gimmicks, and certain shallow aspects of music, Monáe chooses to pay attention to the artistry in her craft. Much like her style and sound, she is serious, but can still bring in the fun and funky. Unlike The Weeknd, who finds artistry in dwelling in pain, Janelle sees that pain and realizes that it will pass. With the 19-track The Electric Lady being the 5th in a 7-part series, she looks to connect with her audience as she inspires others for greatness.

Janelle Monáe’s Atlantic Records/Bad Boy Records release, The Electric Lady, is available now via iTunes and at a store near you.

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Janelle Monáe