Thursday, May 19, 2016

Album Review | The Electric Lady - Janelle Monae {#MusicMayChallenge no.19}

Artist: Janelle Monae
Album: The Electric Lady (2013)
original review: September 13, 2013 on The CA Blog

Whenever I do album reviews for the Soundtrack Saturdays series, the main thing I always look for is press play value. If I am able to just press play and listen to the entire compilation without skipping a track and still want to hear it all again when the last song goes off, that, to me, is the definition of a great album. It's one of those things that isn't evident in a lot of recent releases, but it's always good to come across that rare component in someone's artistry. 

Janelle Monae's The Electric Lady: Suites IV & V, to my great anticipation, dropped  on 9.10.13 and it was an instant classic.  From start to finish, this project has a continuous retro funk/soul/pop energy, accompanied by genius collaborations and an incredible live band sound throughout.  In so many ways, it's so reminiscent of 90's summer in Atlanta.  Anyone who is  true fan of the hip-hop music duo, Outkast, can hear Big Boi's influence in most of her work, along with other notable artist, however it's all her original style with no comparisons needed. The vocals, lyrics, and instrumentation all come together in such a lovely way, that a masterpiece production was inevitable. 

Although it was hard choosing even a 6/19 (with 3 interludes and 2 short introduction tracks, therefore it's really 5/14), my favorite tracks are: Electric Lady (tt. Solange), Primetime (ft. Miguel), Look Into My EyesDorothy Dandridge Eyes (ft. Esperanza Spalding), What an Experience, and Victory, which is a subtle play of Lauren Hill's Zion.  This still does not exclude the fact that I am literally in love with every song on this album. 

I like the way she has yet to lose sight of her original technological/android theme that she started with on her debut album; the title is so fitting. The coolest thing about this entire project is Janelle's vivid imagination and how she uses it to convey her truth. As the ArchAndroid saga continues, her individuality rains pure gold on everything she touches. What is even more apparent is that it's not a rushed compilation, full of filler tracks and awful songwriting, which is something many of us can appreciate. 

Back in 2007, I remember attending one of her shows here in Atlanta.  From Sugar Hill and Apache Cafe to where she is now, watching this young gift to music grow has been incredible. She shows that a woman in the music industry is not subjected  to stripping herself of all her clothes, all her dignity, in order to be to be sexy. She doesn't have to compromise her art to appeal to the masses. Last but not least, she is using her gift to spread positive messages of love, unity, and rising above. This is the thing that I've always loved about her and it's what made people recognized that Janelle Monae is absolutely an artist way ahead of her time.   

...and I genuinely wish her many more successful years to come, hopefully one day I can say this to her directly.

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