On a hot December afternoon, the sky hazy from wildfires that raged just beyond the Los Angeles city limits, a handful of people gathered outside a nondescript Super 8 motel off Sunset Boulevard.
janelle monae concert nyc – The Genius Of Janelle Monáe
Janelle Monae is one of the most unique artists of our times. Alongside its creative in-house team of executives including CEO Monáe, Managing Partner Mikael Moore, Creative Director Chuck Lightning and Executive Producer Nate Wonder, Wondaland and Universal Pictures will develop multi-genre content with an emphasis on championing underrepresented voices and groundbreaking perspectives.
I want young girls, young boys, nonbinary, gay, straight, queer people who are having a hard time dealing with their sexuality, dealing with feeling ostracized or bullied for just being their unique selves, to know that I see you,” Monae told Rolling Stone.
With Wondaland Pictures’ new deal, there could be a lot of soundtracking to do. Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley championed the agreement and has made a career of putting an emphasis on empowering women and storytellers, a perfect pairing with Monáe, Mikael Moore, Chuck Lightning, and Nate Wonder.
In 2013, Monáe released her second album, The Electric Lady, which also received rave reviews. The album stays consistent with the theme of her debut, taking listeners on a musical journey alongside Cindi Mayweather. The album, which featured appearances by fellow respected R&B artists such as Miguel , Solange, Prince and Erykah Badu, did better than its popular predecessor, peaking at No. 5 on the Billboard Top 200. Monáe also gained recognition at the 2013 Billboard Women in Music event, having been given Billboard’s Rising Star Award. She also made her debut as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live in October 2013.
Where black women in entertainment who excell beyond perceived expectation are likened to a type of otherworldly strength and endurance that at times defies the humanity in their artistry, Monáe is adamant about unveiling the humanity that has always existed in her art even during the periods where her alter-persona presided over her personal one.
Monáe grew up in Kansas City in a Baptist church, with a Christian family and in shoes very different from the ones she walks in now. She remembers being quite young when she realized she was queer, and although the vocabulary wasn’t there, the feelings were. “I was like eight,” she remembers. “I don’t think I actually knew how I identified. I knew that I was attracted to women, girls, men, boys. I knew that.” Like many LGBTQIA+ people raised in more rural and religious areas, Monáe found it difficult to ask those questions without feeling ostracized.
Simultaneously, Chuck Lightning, seemingly the more extroverted half of two-man funk act Deep Cotton, who make their own music as well as work with Monáe, grabs a bowl of quinoa from the kitchen as Monáe doles out decisions on which version of the Pynk” video will be released (they settle on the one without the spoken-word love poem that appears within the song in the film).
Monáe publicly dedicated her two Grammy nominations to her “trans brothers and sisters,” who she says “are shunned from these sorts of events.” Institutional award shows, including the Grammys, are inherently and historically spaces of white, cis, male privilege. While they have recently gotten Blacker, our understanding of diversity must always continue to grow more intersectional. This is part of what Monáe is working toward herself, and advocating for from her audience.
Monáe recorded most of Dirty Computer here, in a small studio with Havana-inspired decor. Guests and collaborators ranged from Grimes to Brian Wilson, who added harmonies to the title track. The album’s liner notes cite Bible verses and a recent Quincy Jones interview alongside Monica Sjöö’s The Great Cosmic Mother and Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther.
Most popular music is so determinedly centered on heterosexual dynamics that any hint of same-sex interactions can feel revelatory, even radical, upon the first encounter. That’s the way it felt to me when I first watched Monáe’s film. The queer sexual interactions are refreshingly explicit — miming digital and oral sex — and images throughout celebrate women. The video for the song Pynk” is an extended appreciation of the female anatomy, with neon signs screaming, Expletive Power,” and pink-frilled jumpsuits that wouldn’t look out of place in a Judy Chicago installation.
The album is broken up into three parts. The first few songs represent the reckoning — reckoning with what it means to be called a n for the first time by a white person, or being called a b for the first time by a man. And then you have the middle section, where ” Pynk ” falls in, and songs like ” Make Me Feel ,” that are celebratory of sexuality and of womanness. The latter part of the album deals with the reclamation: A song like ” Americans ” is about reclaiming what it means to be an American. My ancestors helped build the White House, helped build this country. And it’s not time to run away, it’s time to stand your ground and confront what I call the great divide — those who seek to divide us and highlight all our differences and make us fearful of each other.
Monáe’s big break came in 2005, at the age of 20, when she performed Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” at an open mic night. Big Boi, one half of the famous hip-hop duo OutKast, was in the audience and was thoroughly impressed with Monáe’s performance. He featured Monáe on two tracks, “Time Will Reveal” and “Lettin’ Go,” from the hip-hop group Purple Ribbon All-Stars’ album Got Purp? Vol. II, released later that year. A year later, in 2006, OutKast featured Monáe on two more songs, “Call the Law” and “In Your Dreams,” from its popular and acclaimed album Idlewild.
Her profile as an actor is also on the rise — Moonlight and Hidden Figures paving the way to the forthcoming Welcome to Marwen and Harriet. But with the Emotion Picture, she and Wondaland Pictures took their first step into a larger world. They’ve now signed a first look deal with Universal to focus specifically on projects that champion underrepresented voices. She’s our Artist of the Year now, but it’s like she’s only getting started.
Retro-futuristic artist whose sound is wrapped in theatrical sci-fi concepts, as explored on the Top Ten LPs The Electric Lady and Dirty Computer. Janelle Monáe wants you to fight oppression. And she wants you to do it as part of a gleeful, unapologetic army of self-loving black women.
It’s a brilliant strategy. In having multiples selves, Monáe can expand upon the worldbuilding of her narrative, told in multiple viewpoints but all originating from herself. She is not locked into a single narrative, but is able to explore all facets of her self-identity, from her queerness to her blackness to her religious faith. This makes Monáe not only an excellent musician, but also an amazing storyteller, one who is telling a science fiction story in real time.
Janelle Monae got her big break in 2005 in the form of being invited to perform on Outkast tracks by Big Boi. Sean Puffy” Combs soon signed her on to his Bad Boy Records and in 2010, Janelle Monae dropped her debut album which was received very favorably. The album which was named The ArchAndroid enraptured numerous people with its uniqueness and rose to number 17 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and also got nominated for a Grammy award. Janelle Monae’s next album was released in 2013 and was named The Electric Lady, which is now a nickname for the artist. In most Janelle Monae’s videos or appearances, she is dressed in a signature black-and-white tuxedo that is a homage to her parents who wore uniforms to do their menial jobs while she was growing up.
A departure from the saga in her past albums, this is a new transparency where the humanness of the once android is a paraph on her signature style. She’s inverted her storytelling to reflect what she omitted before. Fandroids— Monáe’s name for the clove of supporters who watched her transition from a time skipping gender-defying android to a time-skipping human with flaws, feats, and everything between— who were expecting an expansion of her metropolis, instead, saw a revision of it.
But Monáe’s work also calls to mind another daughter of Houston: Beyoncé. Both women boast exacting tastes when it comes to aesthetics and a dedication to labor that’s evident in their work. But Monáe also had to find a way to let her true self shine through the alter ego and alternate, futuristic universe she’d created. Her perfectionist tendencies were a creative obstruction.
Not only is the album star-studded and critically acclaimed, but it’s also the first time Monáe put herself out there as a completely stripped down human instead of as an android. And she came out as queer. “When I come home at night and take off my makeup and my performance uniform, I still am a young, black, queer woman from America who grew up with working class parents,” she proclaimed in an interview with Billboard “So it was just important to speak from that perspective and, in the process, let people know that it was important for Dirty Computers to feel like we have a community.” It doesn’t get any more personal than that.
There’s so many stories out there. If I look at a Moonlight – a movie that I was extremely excited about being a part of — having a young, gay, black boy highlighted in the way that Moonlight highlighted his voice and story, I’d never seen in cinema. Even with Hidden Figures , another film that I was really honored to be a part of, I didn’t have any idea about those women who helped get John Glenn into orbit, or the human computers who were doing all the numbers that it took to get our astronauts into space. So I’m just looking for those unique stories. There are a lot of other people that I respect and admire, like Issa Rae and Lena Waithe and Jordan Peele, who are who are also pushing forward underrepresented voices. I just hope, and Wondaland hopes, to continue to push culture forward and and redefine how we are viewed. I want to make movies the dirty computers can feel proud of.
Monáe soon passed a bigger audition, for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy, and headed to New York. She studied musical theater and shared a small apartment with a cousin where she didn’t even have a bed to herself. When she wasn’t in class, she was working.
It’s an album full of potent, funky anthems that are gloriously sex-positive and beautifully queer and rooted in blackness and rife with political and societal critique as Monáe delivers her point of view as a sexually liberated black woman who has constantly seen the threats being made to her rights and those who look and love like her.
Neo-soul musician known for her distinct fashion sense and unique musical sound. She has earned six Grammy Award nominations and multiple other honors. Also an actress, her role in the 2016 historical drama film Hidden Figures earned her critical acclaim.
In 2010, Monáe released her debut full-length album, The ArchAndroid, which peaked at No. 17 on the Billboard U.S. album chart and featured the singles “Cold War” and “Tightrope.” Based loosely on the 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis, which depicts a dystopian futuristic world, The ArchAndroid is a concept album about a robot named Cindi Mayweather in the year 2719. The album is at once a futurist sci-fi story and an allegory of African-American history.