May 25, 2012


Struggles within a created world (IAIN SHEDDEN, 5/24/12, The Australian)

TO borrow a line from Prince, she's got the look -- and it's one she's not about to change. Janelle Monae likes a sharp suit so much that she has worn pretty much the same outfit for the past four years.

As she says: "You find a great look, you stick with it."

The 26-year-old Kansas-born singer is a good friend of the princely one, now on tour in Australia, but Monae is her own person, even if she cites Prince and artists from Lauryn Hill to Rachmaninov as influences.

Monae, who makes her Australian debut at Sydney's Vivid Live festival this weekend, likes also to be known as Cindi Mayweather, an alter-ego android based in the city of Metropolis, which has been the setting for Monae's entire musical output.

Her two releases so far, the 2007 EP Metropolis (The Chase Suite) and her 2010 debut album The Arch Android (Suites II and III) centre on a culture not too different from the one in the film that inspired it, Fritz Lang's 1927 science fiction classic Metropolis, although Monae says the film is only one influence on her work. Within the concept she has created a world of struggle between the haves and have-nots and has set herself up, lyrically at least, as a messianic saviour.

Set this to a musical backdrop that embraces soft soul, funk, hip-hop and pop and you have an intriguing hybrid, one that has earned her a Grammy nomination for the album and for one of the songs from it, the dance-friendly Tightrope.

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Posted by at May 25, 2012 5:32 AM

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