One of those days comes where I discover an artist that I have somehow missed, and I thus experience a revelation.
The artist is Janelle Monae, and even on paper, her inspired fusion of science fiction and old school soul would be enough to pique my attention.
‘Tightrope’ opens with her proclamation that she will “take your pain away”, and indeed she did, and does, and will undoubtedly do from herein. The lyrics and message of this track, combined with the most sublime ‘afrofuturist’ jive and funkiest horn section in Metropolis – “we call that Classy Brass!” – inject a truly wonderful feel-good factor. The accompanying video only intensifies the whole self-empowering party bliss of it all. I intend to keep tipping the tightrope, as best I can.
Her new album The ArchAndroid was promptly ordered, and I awaited the arrival of it with considerable glee in my anticipation. In the interim, I relished in various offerings on youtube, including her beautiful rendition of the classic ‘Smile’.
Following on from her first solo ep, entitled Metropolis: The Chase Suite, she now brings us The ArchAndroid, which comprises of Suites II and III in her concept album quartet, all placed in the year 2719 in the megacity Metropolis.
This is the setting for Monae's alter ego, Cindi Mayweather, an android with “a rock-star proficiency package and a working soul” , who goes on the run after illegally falling in love with a human; and elevated to messiah status by her fellow kind.
“Accessibility is clearly a concern and Monae achieves it by firmly straddling her sci-fi evangelism with a supernova like display of talent and a giddy round of genre hopping.”
Charles Ubaghs, www.thequietus.com
Music artists can often bring us excitingly fresh creations when they draw passionately from the past, and here lies no exception. It is familiar and new in equal measure, like being wrapped up in your favourite blanket whilst doing high kicks on an underwater rollercoaster, in that it is a warming delight and hypnotic dream.
In a recent interview she said: “I'm busy on focusing on what I need to be doing; creating transformative music because I think that we're dying to be transformed. We're dying to hear an album that evokes emotions that we have not been in touch with for a long time, and that's why the ArchAndroid is an emotion picture. It promotes the individual and if you allow it to transform you, it will.”
Aiming to transcend, to become all that I am and more than I am is something I strive for, and I thank Janelle Monae for now becoming another arsenal in my army towards an ambitious further-accomplished self. Nietzsche once put it that “Without music life would be a mistake.” Well this enthralling creation of rhythm and poetry in the air ensures life is anything but.
I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.
Become the change you want to see - those are words I live by.