Janelle Monae is stunningly brilliant. There are so many reasons why I love her and identify with her. We’re both from Kansas City (me from Mo., she from Kan.), and we both moved to Atlanta to pursue our dreams (me a career in PR, she a hopeful music career), and we both sort of march to the beat of a different drummer. Tonight we meet for our second date at New York’s Highline Ballroom. She’s an artist who defies category (afro-punk, alt hip-hop, soul, funk, rock ‘n role, dance-punk, new wave) and commands one of the most pure, powerful, beautiful voices to come along in years.
I first saw Janelle Monae in 2008 shortly after she signed with Sean Comb’s Bad Boy Records and released her debut EP, Metropolis: The Chase Suite. Now she’s back with the second and third installments of her Metropolis suite, now packaged as a full-length LP, The Arch Android. After seeing this show, I can’t wait for this album. She’s better than ever!
The most powerful highlight of the show was “Cold War.” Wow. She completely loses herself in the song and belts out such passion in her lyrics. “I’m trying to find my peace. I was made to believe that there’s something wrong with me. And it hurts my heart. Lord have mercy, ain’t it plain to see? This is a cold war. You better know what you’re fighting for.” Then she followed that up with her new single, “Tightrope,” which I love, love, love! I’m not 100 percent, but I think I hear the voice of TLC’s T-Boz Watkins in the backing vocals singing “tip on it!” I miss that girl! Go to vimeo now and watch this video. It’s super fly.
Toward the end of the set, Monae delivers three of the best tracks off her earlier EP, starting with my favorite, “Sincerely, Jane.” Such a beautiful song, and I love the french horns and strings on the track. For her encore, she returns with “Violet Stars Happy Hunting” and her biggest hit to date, “Many Moons.” After almost every song, I’m see my fellow witnesses turn their heads to friends and mouth, “that was amazing.” And it was. I’m curious to see if The Arch Android thrusts her into the pop stratosphere this summer. It just might happen.
|Afro-punk, Alternative Hip Hop, Soul, Funk, Rock and Roll, Dance-Punk, New Wave|