Friday, February 7, 2014

Janelle Monáe: A Concept Worth Sharing

Originally, I didn't even piece together that each one of Janelle Monáe's albums was a concept album, let alone her entire discography is a concept.  So when I found this out a few months ago with the release of her new album Electric Lady.  Her albums follow an android woman Cindi Mayweather (Android 57821), who is sent back in time to free the android citizens of Metropolis from the Great Divide, a secret organization that suppresses freedom and emotion.  In the first EP Metropolis, Cyndi falls in love with a human named Anthony Greendown and is disassembled for it. 

She becomes the Archandroid, a messianic symbol for androids of becoming more than what they are--of being capable of more than they are expected to be.  She represents the android species, which she refers to as the Other, a segregated minority, historically much like a city's Jewish, Hispanic, or Black communities.  In other words, Mayweather is a celebrity within an android ghetto.  Through Mayweather, Monáe explores themes of self-concept, self-realization, identity, love and emotion, community, politics, rebellion, food politics, feminism, mass production and distribution, as well as capitalism.  She is, at her core, a musical genius, as a lyricist, performer, and creator.  Her ability to drastically change her image to suit a song's message assists her typical garb of a suit and pulled up hair, which is what she's known for now.  This creativity is her way of focusing on the music, both her and the audience.

The order in which the series takes place is:
Metropolis: Suite I
The Electric Lady
The ArchAndroid
The next album

The next album will complete the seven-part Metropolis concept.  Monáe plans to make the series of albums into a graphic novel, as well as a musical.  How delightful!  Check out Monae's music on her website, googleplay, iTunes, amazon, or your local record shop.

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