The incredibly talented and diverse R&B Soul singer Janelle Monae has established herself as a voice to be reckoned with, not just for her powerful vocals and compelling songwriting, but her signature tuxedo-style that differentiates her style from her peers. Electric Lady, Ms Monae’s sophomore album, is packed with nineteen tracks and an additional three for the deluxe edition, providing an incredible array of tunes and collaborations from the likes of Miguel, Solange and music icon Prince. As the name suggests, Electric Lady is defined by Janelle in an interview with VIBE Vixen magazine as being “quirky”, “unafraid” and “epic” which her fans will definitely agree fits her style and personality.
“Primetime” featuring Miguel is a love ballad with a Janelle Monae twist to it. The catchy line “It’s a prime time for our love, ain’t nobody thinking about the stars above” sung in the chorus makes it a love song many will want to sing along to. The pace of the track is slower than what you might be typically used to from Janelle Monae usually, but it is a welcome change that reflects the diverse range that the artist indulges in. Miguel is a great choice for this duet and his vocals mesh beautifully together with Janelle’s on this track while the backing vocals harmonizing all over the track are skilfully arranged and a splendid addition. Closing with an electric guitar solo that gives the reminiscent feel of a love ballad from the eighties, “Primetime” is an infectious song that you can sit back and relax to, and find yourself singing long after your first listen.
“Even if it makes others uncomfortable, I will love who I am” Janelle states on the bridge of “Q.U.E.E.N” featuring Erykah Badu. This track is an upbeat anthem about embracing what makes you unique without feeling that you have to change yourself. A funky guitar melody starts the song off which gloriously leads into the hypnotising musical backdrp with hand snaps added in, captivating the listener throughout the track. The feature from Neo-Soul Queen Erykah Badu is an excellent choice as her soulful smooth voice compliments the funky track.
Janelle ends the song with a minute long rap that makes a political statement with lyrics such as “they keep us underground working hard for the greedy, but when it’s time to pay they turn around and call us needy” with lyrics like “I’m tired of Marvin asking me what’s going on” showing her dissatisfaction with the state of the world and its troubles. I love the tempo of “Q.U.E.E.N” and the fact that the song ends on a reflective note, which gives me perspective on the singer’s values for social justice as well as her music. She is a singer out to make a difference with her voice and she boldly tells her audience towards the end of her rap, “categorize me I defy every label” which is more than enough reason to give this track a listen.
“Dance Apocalyptic” is the most fast-paced of the three tracks on show here, it is very playful and upbeat in its sonic delivery with rousing bass guitar arrangements, catchy drum patterns, hand claps and beautiful backing harmonies. The song makes for a lighthearted listen with a futuristic theme, that fans and new audiences of her music can enjoy and more importantly dance along to. I found this track quite the enjoyable and fun listening experience and I love that Janelle is still able to provide a great vocal performance on such a dance-inducing song.
On her second album, Janelle Monae shows that she is a 21st century Powerhouse in her own right with an array of different sounds from Soul to Electro-Pop to fully utilized on this album along with variety of collaborations from Solange Knowles to Big Boi to Cee-Lo Green, to highlight her excitingly rich sound. She shows her fans that she is not afraid to go against the grain and conventionality when it comes to her music and creativity as an artist and producer. For more of her amazing songs from this record, Electric Lady will be released on September 10 and for those in the States, Janelle Monae will be embarking on a US nationwide tour in October and November and you can keep up-to-date with her tour dates here.
Pre-Order: Janelle Monae – Electric Lady (iTunes)