Welcome back to #wcw (aka Woman Crush Wednesday) on my blog for Women’s History Month! I’m featuring a musical artist every Wednesday who has inspired me and driven me to expand and develop my own art in new ways.
This week I’m smitten with the enigmatic, colorful, sharply intelligent, Afro-futurist musical icon that is Janelle Monáe.
Ms Monáe first caught the public’s attention in 2010 with the release of her critically acclaimed album The ArchAndroid, the follow-up to 2007’s Metropolis Suite I (The Chase). She revealed a plot line largely inspired by Fritz Lang’s 1927 silent film Metropolis, in which Monáe, as the android messiah Cindi Mayweather, provides a mirror to the representation of Lang’s android twin Maria. In Monáe Metropolis, Cindi represents the segregated “other.” Monáe was inspired not just by Lang’s film, but by sci-fi classics like Alien and Blade Runner, in which the android alien was maligned and separated from society. As she says: “I could relate to that, the idea of being the minority within the majority.” (source)
Monáe’s signature early look, a fitted tuxedo, has won her the admiration of many for its gender-bending approaching to femininity and style.
Born in Kansas City, Kansas, in 1985, Janelle Monáe studied drama in New York, and eventually found her way to Atlanta, Georgia, where she and like-minded artists founded the Wondaland Arts Society, bringing innovative pop culture beyond the studio and producer machine. With the release of Metropolis I, Monáe attracted the attention of big name artists like Sean Combs and Big Boi of Outkast. She’s been awarded the Vanguard Award by ASCAP. In 2016 she appeared in both Best Picture Winner Moonlight and nominated film Hidden Figures.
She released the third album in her Metropolis concept ouevre, The Electric Lady, in 2013, and continues to follow Cindi Mayweather in her quest to liberate Metropolis’s citizens from the suppressive forces controlling their freedom of expression and love.
Her answer to the rising awareness of police brutality is the 2015 anthem Hell You Talmabout:
Monáe music draws influence from so many genres and styles including classical & orchestral, hip-hop and soul, rockabilly, jazz, and 60s-era pop. Her latest single, Make Me Feel, bears the stamp of Minneapolis Sound legend Prince, and in fact he contributed compositional elements to the finished product before his death in 2016.
definitely NSFW, but still awesome.
Janelle Monáe strong, unabashed voice and presence in our music scene is a breath of fresh air. She’s empowered and liberated, unconcerned with your opinion of her and willing to take risks to make great art. I eat up just about every new creation of hers, as well as her incredible style and poise. She’s, in word, goals.