Her first album was titled Metropolis, its follow-up – The Arch Android. She has killer rock n’ roll androgyne style and addictive musical-theater-trained pipes. Oh, she also does live painting and has her own label, too. Yet somehow, I hadn’t heard of Janelle Monae before this video for her single Many Moons popped up on my screen last week.
As you can see, Metropolis is a concept album. Its fictional protagonist Cindi Mayweather finds herself in the year 2719 and on the run from android law, because she’s in love with a human. Monae’s next three albums will follow Mayweather’s adventures, some of them in space.
Yep, I’m in full swoon. Monae’s influences might be more than a little transparent, but I just don’t care – the combination is fresh and it’s pop. Great pop, at that. There’s space and robots and art and she’s adorable, but above all that, she gives answers like this in interviews:
I am driven by the need for change. I have had many nightmares about our future and if we do keep living the way we do, killing the way we do, hating ourselves the way we do, I do believe we are headed to the great road of nowhere. I know that I was put on this earth to lead, not to be perfect, but to lead and display a positive example and that is what I will die trying to do.
And I actually believe these aren’t just producer-polished words – Janelle is already working on starting a non-profit organization to help disadvantaged girls develop their artistic side. When, in light of a Grammy nomination, she was asked if she enjoyed being photographed and interviewed, she said, “Only when I have something to say. I’m not a red carpet gal. I wear a uniform for god’s sake! I have a hair machine I stick my head into. I have other duties to worry about.”
You hear that, pop culture? More of it, please. Also, I need a hair machine.
[video via TheDaniel]