Without a doubt, one of the most underrated artists of our time. Janelle Monáe is an artist that has managed to create an entire alternate universe based on her alter ego, Cindi Mayweather.
To be able to manage creating a concept series of albums that tell a thorough, Afro-Futurism narrative is extremely difficult, only adding to the amazing mind of Monáe. This takes intense thought processes that consist of forethought, creative control and time.
Janelle Monáe expresses herself through her music in a new, creative and unique way that sets her apart from just about every musician today. Her albums all correlate and tell a Metropolis inspired story of a female futuristic character that experiences divides and struggles.
She begins her introduction of her character with her first EP, "Metropolis: The Chase Suite" explaining how she is an android and has fallen in love with a human which is against android rules.
While on the run from disassembly for being in love with a human, her character, Cindi Mayweather realizes she is the sole savior who is suppose to unite the humans and the androids.
What amazes me about the story Janelle Monáe is telling, is how she's using a sci-fi inspired narrative to make a reference to the different cultural and political issues we face in today's world.
This point can be backed up with her albums, "The AcrhAndroid" and "The Electric Lady" which provides a further description of Cindi and how she (Monáe) uses these projects as a representation of people of color and the LGBTQ community.
Monáe has even quoted, “I don’t make music for kings or queens, I make music for regular people. I wear my black and white uniform to pay homage to those who are working every single day like my mother and father…I represent the working class and I try to create songs that are uplifting because this world can drive you insane, which is why I try to create songs like ‘Tightrope’ and ‘Cold War’. To give them inspiration on how to deal with balance and how to realize your strengths.”
Listening to her concept albums in a standard order allows a better understanding of the many references she makes.
What's even better about Monáe's structure of her albums is the fact she lets the listener choose their own level of engagement, which makes the album something you have to continuously come back to while also appreciating the creativity behind it in different ways.
Monáe provides multiple music videos that give her audience a visual element to add references to her overall aesthetic. Luckily, Monáe has just announced a further section to her detailed storyline by recently releasing a trailer for her upcoming album.
I recommend everyone takes the time to listen and to study these amazing pieces of work. I'm excited for what else we can discover and how she continues to expand on her plot.