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Comment + Permalink
Janelle Monáe’s album has been in constant rotation since I got it. The more you listen, the more you hear a wider range of influences. The first impression I got from her EP and her dynamite live shows was 80s New Wave, “Ziggy Stardust” era Bowie and a fuller execution of the fembot ideas behind Brides of Funkenstein.
But her first full length album – which is segmented into three distinct segments – also shows off her Michael Jackson influences, and several other song specific inspirations.
The album starts with a big cinematic score, very reminiscent of how Michael opened his songs with a widescreen symphonic sound, and then the first 7 tracks are dance records, culminating the spectacular Tightrope, which I have to admit I played about 14 times in a row over two days. I’m over it now, but I haven’t put a song on repeat like that in a while.
The second section is a wide range of rock, from 60’s French pop inspired ditty called OH MAKER to a brilliant homage of CRIMSON AND CLOVER called MUSHROOMS AND ROSES. There’s some more Bowie-sounding rock as well as a Prince-ish jam, which slides in the final, mellow part of the album. Here she chills out and gets surprisingly Earthy, with songs you could imagine on a Jill Scott or India.Arie album.
Like Prince, you can name the influences, but she makes it all her own. I can’t imagine what the next single might be, but I don’t think there’s any point of trying to push her on black radio. She’s an Artist, like Bjork, and needs to be treated as such. While I wish Big Boi had produced two more tracks on the album, I enjoy what is there. With 18 songs, there’s definitely a couple of songs that could go to make it a tighter experience, but at this point I’m not sure what might grow on me next.
As a side note, I love having an album that knocks this hard that I can play with my kids in the car. I love having an artist whose videos I can show my kids without worrying about them being too sexualized. Janelle is a beautiful girl, and I’m sure she’ll appear in a dress one day and blow these tramps out of the water, but I like that she doesn’t lean on her looks. But most of all, I can’t wait to hear what she does next. Given the growth between her EP and her first album, she could be well on her way to being Important.
…he wore a diaper, kept it funky, and helped write, play and sing on some of the greatest music ever made.
That’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard Cedric say, and I’ve hung with him for over a decade.