Friday, July 16, 2010

Janelle Monae, I Don't Understand You

I like metaphor, imagery and well-sustained conceit -so I read books.

Janelle Monae makes me feel lazy because I don't want to take the time to decipher the message behind her Android suites. Perhaps all it takes to enter her "Cybertronic Purgatory" is a bit of time researching her intent. Maybe reading a few interviews, or doing some Googling. It could even be in the liner notes. The thing is, I'm on the treadmill with 3 miles still to go, and you're asking me to identify the "Wolfmasters" and join them on their melodic "March."

Well Rihanna tells me exactly what a Rude Boy is, and why she wants one -so I think I'll switch to that playlist.

Throughout her Metropolis/Android suites Monae offers eccentricity for the sake of seeming eccentric. She spews her narrative in the most attention-grabbing manner possible, like a child coloring walls because you haven't paid attention to what they've put on paper. Abstraction is her medium, while desperation seems to be the outcome.

Monae has plenty to say. Sincrerely Jane asks "what good is love if it burns bright, and explodes in flames?" While Cold War warns "In this life you spend time running from depravity. You better know what you're fighting for."

Observant statments, made all the better by her assured delivery. The problem is that her intent is ultimately lost in the messy metaphor that frames her effort.

What is Metropolis? Why are we here? Who's Jane? And why do I have to listen to every one of your songs in succession before I have the slightest idea what you're talking about?

To be fair, listening to Metroplis or Android is a concession by nature. You've agreed to enter Monae's narrative, and figure it out from there. But she doesn't offer enough context to flesh out her fantasy. If these were books, they'd be paired with cliffnotes. But this is music -who wants to research an abstract in preparation for a playlist?

Track for track, most of the material on Metropolis and Android is engaging, refreshing and certainly more satisfying than a majority of what currently plays on Top 40 radio. But taken as a whole, it's a concept album that doesn't fully realize its concept.

You've given me the metaphor Monae; now balance it with something concrete.

The clip below is from the Idlewild soundtrack. It's a narrative that makes sense, and Monae sounds amazing (as always). That's all I'm asking.


Racheal said...

I like her, I think that she's definitely for the deeper thinker, but that's her right to speak in her own language. I mean she does have a deal after all, there's something to be desired in her abstract.

Star Watson said...

I agree with Racheal... The best (well, the simplest) you can get from her is "Sincerely, Jane". Janelle Monae, just like Erykah Badu's latest project with Amerykah, is definitely not a playlist-type of musician. Especially when you don't want to think deeply. I do find it HELLA necessary that musicians like her exist in the charts, please believe her exposure right now is heavily needed.

Anonymous said...

I think you're just lazy. But whatever, that's your right to have an opinion. *shrug* Keep on listening to that Rude Boy lol.

Anonymous said...

Love her, she is really different though. I like that because her music is the kind of music I listen to anyways i.e. James Brown, Elvis, Coldplay.

Anonymous said...

And Brandon, your lazy.

B. Floyd said...

@Reggie *dead* And you're probably right. I just don't have time for her weird ass.

O2LS said...

It's a trend! more and more artist are trying so hard to create an extraordinary image, the crazier the better I guess?? Still love her music tho

Adie Andrews said...

I can say that exactly due to the fact she is different she is getting more and more fans. But honestly I am more than happy that she is exactly the way she is.

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Romeo Green said...

What I understand this article to be, is a condemnation of Janelle Monae's vital use of her considerable intellect within a vapid world of meaningless albums full of mindless songs. It would seem that you're simply grasping at straws of negativity, since you seemed to enjoy most of the songs on both of the albums you admonish for being, "a concept album, that doesn't fully realize it's concept." It would be more apt to say that you don't fully realize that each of these sentences, while well crafted, when taken together are making you look so very basic!
You've given me the shade Floyd, now back it up with some concrete points.
In conclusion, we should all be perpetually aspiring to prod others think and grow, not creating beats you can run a on treadmill to!!!
Stay woke