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Janelle Monae

Metropolis

Suite I of IV: The Chase

(Wondaland Arts Society; US: 24 Aug 2007; UK: Available as import)

Janelle Monáe is bringing back the art of the album listening experience with Metropolis, a genre-bending conceptual piece that will be unveiled over the course of four separate suites with deluxe packaging and illustrations that tell the story of Cindi Mayweather, a.k.a android #57821. Monáe inhabits the cyborg skin of Mayweather who is introduced on Suite I: The Chase as a “cyber-girl without a face, a heart, or a mind” that falls in love with a human, which destines her for disassembly by the “droid control”. “Violet Stars Happy Hunting!”, a tune that is anything but robotic, documents her escape in fits of head-bopping funk. It is one of the best singles of 2007, though unless you have iTunes, visit MySpace, or live in Atlanta (where Monáe is based), you may not know it since Suite I: The Chase is not available in the majority of retail outlets. The search is well worth it, however: though Monáe plays an “alien from out of space”, her vocal and songwriting talent is that of a multi-faceted and multi-talented mortal.

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Christian John Wikane is a NYC-based journalist and music essayist. He's a Contributing Editor for PopMatters, where he's interviewed artists ranging from Paul McCartney to Janelle Monae. For the past three years, he's penned liner notes for more than 100 CD re-issues by legends of R&B, rock, pop, dance, and jazz. Since 2008, he's produced and hosted Three of Hearts: A Benefit for The Family Center at Joe's Pub. He is the author of the five-part oral history Casablanca Records: Play It Again (PopMatters, 2009). Follow him on Twitter @CJWikaneNYC. 


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Janelle Monae - Violet Stars Happy Hunting (live)
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