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September 4, 2013 9:23 AM   Subscribe

An amazingly-designed article about R&B performer Janelle Monae. And an interesting article too!
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard (88 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a stream of her new album here at the moment.
posted by dng at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would really like to read this but the article is so over-designed it's massively slowing down Chrome on my creaky computer. If their goal is to make me want to shell out for the print version it's working.

Wait, there's a tiny link to the standard version at the top of the page! Hooray.
posted by IjonTichy at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2013


US-available stream here
posted by The Whelk at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I've just noticed there's a stream on the pitchfork article as well (in the top right corner if you mouse over the almost hidden play/pause button there).
posted by dng at 9:37 AM on September 4, 2013


dng, that stream is just the three singles from the album that have been released to date, not the whole album.
posted by bookwo3107 at 9:38 AM on September 4, 2013


Guys guys guys.

This album is good.

Like really, really good.

Electric Overture sounds like it's from a dimension where funk and film noir joined forces to produce sci-fi.
posted by The Whelk at 9:40 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm also digging the meta-moments of this album - specifically, the DJ bits that talk about what a star Cyndi (Janelle) is becoming. They take on new significance when read coupled with this article.
posted by bookwo3107 at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's a great article by NK Jemisin about Janelle Monae in Adventure Rocketship #1: Let's All Go To The Science Fiction Disco, which doesn't seem to be available on the internet, unfortunately.
posted by dng at 9:43 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Like really, really, really, really good. I thought I was over capital-A Albums. But I was a god damned fool. The interludes, oh my, the interludes.

On preview Bookwo3107 beat me too it.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2013


Previously and previously.

Janelle Monàe is one of the few performers today that actually makes me excited about music. Like, kid goes to Disney World for the first time excited. In 10 years Miley Cyrus twerking will be forgotten and Monàe will have remade the world into a cybernetic R&B utopia.
posted by Cash4Lead at 9:46 AM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


So if, as Monae says in the streaming link, that it is an emotion picture about Kansas City in the future -- is this future before or after Looper? (After.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2013


Woah. Woah. What. Esperanza Spalding is on this album?
posted by jason_steakums at 9:48 AM on September 4, 2013


I'm just happy I live in a world where a performer can drop an Octavia Butler reference.
posted by The Whelk at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


I really enjoyed this Vice interview with Monae as well.
posted by Slothrup at 9:53 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's a great article by NK Jemisin about Janelle Monae in Adventure Rocketship #1: Let's All Go To The Science Fiction Disco, which doesn't seem to be available on the internet, unfortunately.

That is a horrible, teasing thing to tell me. I'm am now pawing at my screen and willing the article to free itself.

Streaming the album now. All will be well.
posted by dinty_moore at 9:55 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read an article in bust a few weeks back that included this:

When I ask her a series of innocuous questions about her day-to-day activities, I’m met with a confusing volley of responses.

Do you have a llama?

"A pet llama. The grandson of Michael Jackson’s pet llama at Neverland."

What do you do for fun when you’re not on the road?

"Skiing in my backyard, eating with Einstein’s nephew, and giving lectures at Spelman college:

Are you single or in a relationship?

"I’m in an open relationship with two androids and a cyborg."

posted by dinty_moore at 9:58 AM on September 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Humans and clone welcome after midnight, NO Bounty Hunters."
posted by The Whelk at 10:06 AM on September 4, 2013


Some Chrome people are having some trouble with it. FWIW, it looks great on my Safari 5.1.9.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 10:08 AM on September 4, 2013


"Look Into My Eyes" has apparently arrived in this universe via wormhole from a never-made 60s era Bond movie.
posted by The Whelk at 10:10 AM on September 4, 2013


Janelle Monàe is one of the few performers today that actually makes me excited about music.

She actually makes me excited about life.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


Man is there a lot of lush orchestration on this thing. There's no other way to put it, this just sounds cool.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I found the embedded stream on Stereogum a lot lighter and easier than the full VH1 streaming page.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am distraught that I have to wait until after work to listen to this.
posted by C'est la D.C. at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I am at work and can't listen to the embedded music" +
"dng is a cruel, cruel sadist for mentioning NK Jemisin writing about Monae that I can't read right now"

FML.

4 hours. Then I will go home and just listen. I've loved the three I've heard so far (although let's be honest, it's Q.U.E.E.N. by a long shot), can't wait to hear the Whole.
posted by Lemurrhea at 10:23 AM on September 4, 2013


Both covers are so great.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:30 AM on September 4, 2013


I'm still firmly convinced that the line in Dance Apocalyptic is "Kissin' friends", not "Kiss in France" like it says in the production notes for the planned short film.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Both covers give me a very strong 80s Sci-Fi feel, they look like the posters for Blade Runner.
posted by The Whelk at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2013


Q.U.E.E.N. and Dance Apocalyptic are both kinda ehh level for me.

I usually like these alter ego and concept things too but it seems so affected. Whats with all the robot/alien stuff in popular music now.

I'm just old and lame I think.
posted by Ad hominem at 10:52 AM on September 4, 2013


I can't wait for the new album and I can't wait to see her (Nov 1 at the Warfield!). /twitches
posted by rtha at 10:53 AM on September 4, 2013


So, so excited to see her in concert in Minneapolis next month (even if it's at the Skyway Theater, an odd venue choice). I'm convinced she's a time traveler from a much funkier future where humans and androids live in harmony and get freaky with each other without compunction.
posted by wintermute2_0 at 11:00 AM on September 4, 2013


Oh man "Suite V Electric Overture" is the best thing. And the run from that song to "It's Code" to "Ghetto Woman" is like a two-decade trip starting in 1962.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:08 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, so Janelle Monae is a redditor

Sometimes she shows up on the hip hop subreddit.

Sometimes stuff like this happens.
posted by Ad hominem at 11:31 AM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have a feeling I'm going to need a cold compress when this album drops.
posted by sonascope at 11:38 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh god I am so so so excited for this. My birthday was last week, and one of my best friends pre-ordered me the album and got me tickets to her Seattle show in October. SO RAD.

And the stream is REALLY REALLY GOOD. oh man.

(and I liked going through her Reddit history, it's kind of awesome how she's just all "oh, hey" on stuff. And has been around for a couple years and people just realized that "Janellemonae" was, you know, THE REAL ONE.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 11:50 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


[–]Bananaguacamole 29 points 22 hours ago
You've been on reddit for two years??? How am I just now finding this out??


[–]Janellemonae THE QUEEN 93 points 20 hours ago
Yes. Switched from digg. Watching y'all .


My artificial android heart just exploded
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:56 AM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Okay, so, I'm one of those lame-oids who says "oh yeah I like that singer" even though I've only heard one song and don't know what I'm talking about really.

But I also see that she handles interview questions by talking about skiing with Einstein's nephew and dating androids and I realize that hell, I don't need to hear any other songs to know that holy crap I wanna hang out with her.

(And from that first Reddit link - "GO CLEAN THE BONG, FEBREEZE EVERYTHING" is going to become my new "Clean ALL the things".)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:57 AM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


On my re-listen (shut up this is my reward for writing dialogue) the released singles are the highlights, was anything really going to top Q.U.E.E.N? But maaaan those instrumentals, so lush! so big! So genre-hopping! I want her to record a James Bond theme *right the fuck now* (Although, as mentioned "Look Into My Eyes" is basically a Bond theme from a movie that never happened.)

The DJ bits? GOLD. The use of Driod culture to stand in for African-American/Queer culture bits? Yes please, give me more crazy sci-fi conceptual world-building. I do not give a single fuck about it being "affected" or whatever. I am ready to go on this adventure with you.

"Givin Em What They Love" with prince , man it feels like a Prince song. This is not a bad thing. There are *trilling organ riffs* and a horn section and moaning, warped guitars. Rich, deep, crunchy, I feel like I'm describing an herbal liquor but there you go.

"Primetime" was a bit of a let-down. There's nothing wrong with it, it's very handsomely produced R&B ballad, it just sounds like anything that could've been a minor hit at like...any point from the mid 80s to today. It's like aural vh1 from ..1994? Whatever. It's fine.

The title track starts out feeling the same way, a bit generic, a bit boilerplate, then that horn section kicks in (the horns on this album! Oh man) and then just bursts into this pure artifact from The Funk Dimension, where there is nothing but awesome shag-carpet lined spaceships.
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on September 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


"nano-thinking nonsense" is going to my new chill burn, just FYI
posted by The Whelk at 12:06 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The DJ bits? GOLD.

Right? I'm super surprised that I'm loving interlude skits right now.
posted by jason_steakums at 12:10 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


hahah, yeah. Is this the only album ever made that has skits that don't suck?
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 12:17 PM on September 4, 2013


"We Where Rock And Roll" Eh, hate to say it, doesn't deliver on the promise in that baseline, but Dance Apocalyptic quickly washes that away cause I literally can't sit still for any amount of time during this song. I love it. I think Q.U.E.E.N is the better song but oh man oh man, that SMASH SMASH BANG BANG chorus. It's a mutant offspring of Rock And Roll, complete with singing guitars.

As mentioned above, Look Into My Eyes - you could've released this as a Bossa Nova track in the late 60s and no one would bat an overly made-up eye lash. This is a compliment. It also fits into the theatrical vamping the album has in abundance - with the DJ skits it sounds like the soundtrack to a musical. Which is the point, I guess.

And then we're back into Electric Overture and ...lounge music exotica and smooth jazzy instrumentals and I now desperately want a poolside cocktail outside at a party for Super Spies. Emma Peel is there.
posted by The Whelk at 12:24 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm sure someone did it well, as they have been around since 1989, according to a Wikipedia page without citations. Here's a list of someone's claim of the 50 greatest hip-hop skits, but I'm not seeing these as anything groundbreaking or really great, but it does note that LL Cool J had a "skit" of sorts back in '87 on BAD (Bigger And Deffer).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:25 PM on September 4, 2013


And then we're back into Electric Overture and ...lounge music exotica and smooth jazzy instrumentals and I now desperately want a poolside cocktail outside at a party for Super Spies. Emma Peel is there.

Oui, monsieur.
posted by dnash at 12:29 PM on September 4, 2013


Also i swear to fucking god there is a "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka riff in there. It is stunning.
posted by The Whelk at 12:30 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also i swear to fucking god there is a "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka riff in there. It is stunning.

Ok, so I'm not the only one who heard that. Which is to say, I didn't "hear" it but when I stepped away after listening to that track I found "Pure Imagination" was playing in my head and I couldn't figure how it got there.
posted by dnash at 12:37 PM on September 4, 2013


i think Q.U.E.E.N samples Charlie's Angels theme song too.
posted by Ad hominem at 12:39 PM on September 4, 2013


I always liked the track from ArchAndroid that had the brass version of the Super Mario Brothers Invincibility Music.
posted by Rev. Syung Myung Me at 1:07 PM on September 4, 2013


I think The Whelk argued me into liking the concept when I actually thought about it. I retract my early dismissal.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:10 PM on September 4, 2013


Androids bring people closer together.
posted by The Whelk at 1:15 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just wake up, Mary
Have you heard the news?
Oh, just wake up, Mary
You got the right to choose


Just fuck man. Fuck.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:32 PM on September 4, 2013


The new album. So good, so good.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:38 PM on September 4, 2013


Wow, this sure as shit doesn't work on Firefox at all.
posted by kenko at 2:23 PM on September 4, 2013


We are currently playing the stream at the bar and enjoying it.
posted by The Whelk at 2:35 PM on September 4, 2013


None of the streams are playable in Canada. Blerggggg.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:36 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also hearing this on big bar speakers and not my headphones is ahmazfing, there are drums and belles and SO MANY HORNS
posted by The Whelk at 2:40 PM on September 4, 2013


Okay everyone in the bar likes Primetime waaaay more then I do, so that's my deal.
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on September 4, 2013


( yeah okay I think Im lukewarm in We're Like Rock And Roll cause it sounds a lot like Cold War, and Cold War was better.)
posted by The Whelk at 3:00 PM on September 4, 2013


WTF bar they letting you play a live stream of R&B music during happy hour.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:14 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The bar that I've been going to for eight years and know the owner/bartender who happens to be a huuuuge Janelle Monae fan.
posted by The Whelk at 3:22 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The older gentlemen are enjoying Victory for the smooth beats.
posted by The Whelk at 3:23 PM on September 4, 2013


The future of pop music, if talent and passion mean anything.

We see her in two weeks. In Amsterdam. In a tiny venue. So excited. We are blessed.
posted by daveje at 3:27 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well that is cool of them. I usually get don't put that stuff on until the after work crowd leaves even with Frank Ocean or something.
posted by Ad hominem at 3:28 PM on September 4, 2013


I've been seeing the links to the Pitchfork article all day while I was out and about and waiting desperately to get home to read it. And now an album stream too!
posted by immlass at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2013


As if I needed another reason to add "go to NYC and have a big gay happy hour with The Whelk", I am also in a bar listening to this album.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 3:30 PM on September 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am the jukebox tyrant of this local by virtue of having been here longer than anyone. If I say we're listening to Bing Crosby then were listening to Bing Crosby.
posted by The Whelk at 3:31 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And they say technology distances people Mike.
posted by The Whelk at 3:32 PM on September 4, 2013


My day has been teetering on the edge of AAAAARRRRRGGHHHH since about 8 am but thanks to the stream, has been kept from falling totally off. And I even got to amuse some co-workers who walked by as I was chair dancing.
posted by rtha at 3:46 PM on September 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Ok I just found a ...copy of it. That was a powerful, powerful album. I love the horns at the end of What an Experience, really surprised me when they came out, although I don't know why.

So very wish I could see her on tour, but alas.
posted by Lemurrhea at 4:49 PM on September 4, 2013


I CANNOT wait to listen to this on real speakers. I mean it's great on my crappy headphones at work, but !!!!

rtha - We'll see you at the Warfield!
posted by grapesaresour at 5:52 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


got me tickets to her Seattle show in October. SO RAD.

Super envious of you getting to see her. She's playing on a date that I'm already busy and can't reschedule, so oh well, I'll miss her this time around.

I'm also in the middle of seeing 6 concerts in 2 months, and adding another really doesn't make any sense, no matter how bad I want to see it.

Can't listen to the stream right at this exact minute, but will once mr hippybear goes into his own space and lets me turn off the television for the evening.
posted by hippybear at 6:06 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


rtha - We'll see you at the Warfield!

Yaaaayyyyyy!!! We should do something before! And the next morning at some hideous hour we leave for Boston and I am counting on sleeping most of the way, with Ms. Monae taking me to Wondaland.
posted by rtha at 6:09 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I was on the fence about the preorder because the vinyl release isn't until later this year, but you can get the spiffy black & white Q.U.E.E.N./Dance Apocalyptic 7" and the cd or digital version and 20% off the LP when it comes out. Sold.
posted by jason_steakums at 6:15 PM on September 4, 2013


Okay... this album kicks serious ass. So glad for this preview stream! I'll have to take a look at the article in the OPP later, I'm sure it will also be awesome. Most things Monáe related are!
posted by hippybear at 9:56 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, quick, quick --YT: "Givin Em What They Love."
posted by MonkeyToes at 4:10 PM on September 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


NPR: "'Electric Lady' Janelle Monae On Creating The Unheard."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:00 AM on September 9, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh my god, she called Jacki Lyden an Electric Lady. *dies*
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:23 AM on September 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Just got the email with my album download. Tomorrow is going to be fantastic.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2013


Oh man, this album is crazy fun. Was the last one so loungey and soft at times?
posted by filthy light thief at 10:11 AM on September 10, 2013


I'm not going to say I'm obsessed but I spent a large chunk of my day reading album reviews and then almost composing "No, here's why you're wrong" emails for anything that is less than positive.

Here's her on Letterman last night -- which I not only missed (angry) but was in the next room without my not-at-all-obsessed partner mentioning it until this morning (rage inducing); however, all was forgiven since the discussion led me to discover that there were still tickets available for her Chicago show at the Vic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:48 PM on September 10, 2013 [4 favorites]


Here's her on Letterman last night

Oh god that squeak thing! Also, I mean, it's a split second of body language, but was that a momentary flash of giddy flattered freakout when Letterman compared her to James Brown as she walked away? Because Dave knows what that means firsthand from one of the best television performances ever.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:20 PM on September 10, 2013 [1 favorite]


I thought of that too actually. I also thought about how iconic David Letterman's desk is, especially with the Drew Barrymore flashing and the what not. Not that that's why she jumped up there specifically, but I wouldn't rule it out. And that's one of the many things I like about her -- she might not be as cleverly calculating as she sometimes seems, but she's at least clever enough that you think she might be.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:06 AM on September 11, 2013


::swoon::

Yep. That's all I got. ;-)
posted by dorkydancer at 7:43 PM on September 11, 2013 [1 favorite]


BigBoi and Cee-Lo Green remix the title track, Electric Lady.
posted by hippybear at 5:54 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Janelle Monáe on The Electric Lady, Working With Prince, and Performing at Skywalker Ranch
posted by homunculus at 6:02 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I got my physical copy today and the intro to the liner notes is written by the director of The Palace Of The Dogs on how the album is the recorded dreams of a patient named Janelle Monae and contains several subversive and dangerous elements and are in fact the secret messages from rebel android Cyndi Mayweather. This information was delivered via hawk.
posted by The Whelk at 4:54 PM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Of course it was. Of course.
posted by rtha at 5:27 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If anyone's still reading this thread, here's a clip of the end of her Amsterdam gig from Saturday night. (I have a minor (unseen) crowd-surfing assist around the 4:50 mark.)

There's another clip here from the guy whose shoulders she climbs on top of for a dance round the club.

Lots more videos of the gig here.
posted by daveje at 11:11 AM on September 25, 2013


The essay that NK Jemisin wrote about Janelle Monae is now on her website.

(NK Jemisin's, not Janelle Monae's)
posted by dinty_moore at 10:21 AM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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